As a church planter, you often find yourself attempting to write content for your church’s website. A seasoned copywriter who gets your vision, brand and audience is a rarity even when a large budget is at play. So here you are, forced to wear yet another hat. While your website budget may be tiny, your need for that website to clearly share why you exist is huge.
So how do you communicate your vision to your audience on your website when you are not a professional website designer or copywriter?
7 Tips for Writing Winning Website Content
Writing website content is a different beast. But these 7 tips can help you make a clear first impression to visitors.
Tip 1: Write Less.
Less, less, less is more. When it comes to website content, you must say less. Visitors will consume your content on a computer screen, or more likely a smartphone or tablet. So say a third of what you might write for a paper document. Edit, cut and hack your content as if you were delivering a 12-minute sermon in your first preaching class. In actuality, visitors will spend about five to ten minutes on your site before moving on.
Tip 2: Keep laser-focused on your audience.
You are NOT saying everything you could say about your church plant to everyone in your community. (Because most church planters like to talk, let me say it again.) You are NOT saying everything there is to say about a subject, a particular ministry, your church, or anything else about which you will write. Rather, you are trying to answer the questions your intended audience has. Focus on ‘solving their problems’ with your content. Think about what they want to know and need to know to connect with your church. That’s it.
Tip 3: Write your content in short sections.
Write brief blocks of text. Think in terms of 2–4 sentences in short paragraphs. Use a short list or bullets to make content easy to scan. We both know you are amazing. However, people NEVER read anything that feels long on your website unless it is a blog post. (Even your mom will bail out and lie to your face when you ask her later.)
Tip 4: Respect the Smartphone.
I mentioned this above, but it is worth repeating. Remember over half of your website visitors will likely be on a mobile device. One challenge you face when writing website content is the fact you are likely writing content on a laptop. What may feel ‘short enough’ on your spacious computer feels MUCH longer on a phone.
Tip 5: Write down your website goals.
This should be tip number one. Answer for yourself, “What do I want this website to do for our church plant?” A website is always-on. It can be working even when you are not. What do you want it to do? Who is it for? (Hint, it is not for you.) List 1–3 goals. Write them down and literally keep them in front of you as you write your website content. Check them often. And use them to cut, hack, edit and get rid of content that does not help you accomplish your goals.
Tip 6: Outline your website structure first, then start writing content second.
After you decide your goals, you need to outline the structure of your website. Think of this like a fleshed-out “site map.” For example, you would list your Home Page, plus the sub-categories of content you will include on your home page. This outline will serve as the bones on which you build your site. After you outline the structure, then turn to the task of writing content for each of the appropriate sections.
Tip 7: Give Visitors a clear Call to Action.
Most visitors to your website want the answer to three simple questions.
- Who are you and what do you offer me that could help me?
- What would it look like to connect with your church?
- How do I connect with your church?
Yes, that feels a bit consumeristic. But you can serve them by answering their questions clearly. You do not have to cower to consumerism or enable it. You can be bold and honest without demeaning their honest questions. For example, you might say ‘We share the good news of Jesus with the trendy and tossed-aside of the Eastside. We live life together like family centered on Jesus as we learn to follow his perfect rule in our lives. Join us Sunday as we gather from all walks of life to celebrate the transforming love of Jesus.’
You can write winning content for your church plant website. Follow these tips and you will be well on your way to expressing your vision to your website visitors in compelling fashion.
I use these same tips every time I develop a website for any organization or church. I’m not perfect, but I work hard to follow these tips on my own portfolio site Robbyf.com as well. My entire single-page site has less than 500 words total and I run my whole business from those words.