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mistakes business owners make

Top 10 Mistakes Business Owners Make When Copywriting Themselves

As a business owner, you have a lot on your plate. But avoiding inevitable mistakes business owners make when it comes to copywriting is essential. While writing for your business may seem like a small task and the least of your worries, it affects how people view you and your services.

Ask yourself… How many times have you come across something poorly written or executed, and you simply want to give up on the entire purchase? 

Whether you were looking at a menu at a restaurant or a website for a service you need, you likely didn’t stay long enough to see more. Every day, spelling mistakes, errors, funky layouts, and so much more cause readers to move on to a company’s competitors. If your business has old copy full of misinformation and mistakes, you could be losing out on revenue.

While it may not feel fair, people turn elsewhere because they don’t take businesses seriously when business owners make mistakes within their copywriting.

We’ve got the art of writing for websites, blogs, and numerous other assets down. But we realize not everyone knows what to avoid.

Read on for more information about mistakes business owners make when writing their own deliverables.

Too short on time to write for yourself? Give us a shout and get started right away.

Top 10 Mistakes Business Owners Make When Copywriting

Some of your most prized characteristics as a business owner can end up being your downfall when it comes to copywriting. Whether you’re a perfectionist or focused on being super-efficient, it may not be the best approach to take when writing. 

It’s a hard pill to swallow, but it’s true! 

We’ll walk you through each step and talk about the things that could get in the way of your writing.

1. Proofread Or Don’t Publish At All

We know we sound like a broken record, but it truly is important to proofread and pinpoint any errors you can find.

It helps to read your own text out loud and see if you can find any common mistakes business owners make along the way. Remember when we mentioned people judge your business based on the way it presents itself? According to RealBusiness, nearly three-quarters of web users pay attention to the quality of copy on a business’s website.

What To Look Out For:

  • Spelling
  • Grammar
  • Flow
  • Incorrect use of capitalization
  • Punctuation
  • Sentence structure
  • Acronyms not easily recognized by your audience

While not everyone reads with thorough deliberation, people are still paying attention. Proofreading is especially important if you’re passing along information that requires it to be correct. This means, being one digit off on your contact number or a period mark shy of a complete email address could set your potential customers into a frenzy of confusion when trying to reach you.

Could they look it up elsewhere and find the correct information themselves? Sure. But they shouldn’t have to when they’re relying on you to give them the information they need. They may start to think that if you can’t be trusted to offer the right information, why should they trust you with their business? 

Don’t leave it up to your customers to decide whether your company can be trusted and proofread before hitting publish on your marketing assets. 

2. Bring The Focus Back To The Customer

Oftentimes, we notice that businesses get so excited about what they have to offer, that they forget why they’re in business in the first place. And with a whopping 63% of consumers (76% for B2B buyers) who expect your business to know their unique needs and expectations, there’s little room for error.

But it’s my business. So shouldn’t the writing be about me and my business? Isn’t that what my customers care about?

No, not really. This can be one of the toughest realizations business owners have to deal with, but it’s important to say. 

Your customers care about what you can do for them. Talking about yourself, your story, image, and even community involvement are going to be pretty useless in the long run if you don’t remember to think about your business as serving others.

Too much of you isn’t always a good thing. You’ll bury your customers and lose your initial goal.

If you’re reading your existing or drafted copy and start to think it’s looking a little saturated with your business and less about your customer, take a step back. This doesn’t mean you need to scrap everything you’ve written. You can use that information for newsletters, email updates, and other marketing materials. 

But if you know you need to pull the focus back towards the customer, try these few steps and ask:

  1. What do you do?
  2. Why do you do it?
  3. What’s the reason someone should care?
  4. Why again? (Yep, repeat the above step.)

It’s easy to lose focus when writing material for your business, but do what you can to bring it back to your customers.

Need help revising and reaching the main goal? We’re the team with the know-how to help.

3. Features Are Not Benefits

Like focusing too much on yourself, writing about the features of your business can cut into how it can benefit someone. 

For example, if you’re a brand new hospital opening in a busy neighborhood, you may be inclined to say things like:

  • Large Parking Lot
  • Plenty Of Staff
  • Daily Appointments Available
  • Fully Staffed Cafeteria
  • Innovative Machinery

All of these things don’t sound horrible. But they also don’t map out the genuine benefits to someone who may need to go to this hospital. All of these things are features rather than benefits.

A few ways these can transform into benefits include saying:

  • Easy Access And Private Parking Lot Off I-72
  • 2:1 Patient Ratio With Friendly Staff
  • Short Wait Times For All Appointments
  • Healthy And Affordable Food In A Fully Staffed Cafeteria
  • $80 Million In Updated And Innovative Machinery

With these examples, you’re giving your readers details about your features combined with benefits without bogging them down with too much information. Take a look at your writing and see if you can spruce up any of your features and transform them into benefits.

4. Look At The Big Idea

Your benefits, business plan, and everything in between includes great information. However, try to avoid getting distracted from the bigger picture. What is it that you want to accomplish? Stick to your end goal and ensure you have Call-To-Actions (CTAs) throughout your writing that match your goal.

Before writing, consider your big picture. Some examples of this could look like the following:

  • Are you looking for more social media followers? 
  • Do you want to inform people about who you and your business are?
  • Is there a product you’re pushing that you want people to buy?
  • Are you attempting to establish a voice?

Whatever your goal is, it should reflect in your writing. This leads us right into one of the next critical mistakes business owners make when copywriting.

5. You Forget One Or More Call-To-Actions

If your writing doesn’t include Call-To-Actions (CTAs), you’re missing out big time. According to Wordstream, “Emails with a single call-to-action increased clicks 371% and sales 1,617%.“

What Is A Call-To-Action?

A Call-To-Action, or CTA, is a button or clickable link that says “Buy Now” or “Call Us Today”. They’re buttons that inspire your reader to take action right away. Without them, you’re forcing your reader to search further to take action with extra steps. Customers want their experience to be as easy as possible. If you’re asking them to do it on their own, they may talk themselves into taking action later, compare by going elsewhere, and so on. You want them to have the option to make a decision right away after they’ve read your compelling copy.

6. Avoid Hitting Publish And Forgetting About It Altogether

Once you choose to publish your copy, you may think you’re good to go for many years into the future. This is just not true. You need to tap into engagement and get feedback from your audience to find out if there is room for improvement.

Don’t get us wrong, publishing your copy is a big step and is a huge cause for celebration. Especially if you have copy you’ve been working on for a long time, trust us, we’re toasting with you on finishing! But don’t forget to check back on it every so often and ensure the messaging, Call-To-Action, and everything else still rings true.

If you’ve changed your business model in a significant way, have new products available, or anything else that needs to be addressed, do so in your copy by updating it regularly. Revisit your copy if it’s been a while and you feel it may be outdated. Finally, double and triple-check to ensure everything looks good and is mobile friendly. 

7. Perfectionism Kills Potentially Great Copy

As a business owner, you’re probably a little bit obsessed with perfection. And there’s nothing wrong with that! When it comes to running your business, having a type-A tendency is a must. But when it comes to copywriting, it can be an absolute nightmare.

Why? Because when you keep writing, saving, going back to writing, and so on, expecting it to be perfect, you’ll never get it done! And you’ll have likely missed your window for getting your message out there at the right time.

We know it’s easier said than done, but let go a little and get your copy out there once you’ve hit all of the important aspects of your bigger picture.

8. Keep It Simple

You work within your industry, but chances are, most people reading your copy don’t. They may even know nothing about your business, who you are, or what you do. So it’s important to write as if you’re speaking to someone who knows little to nothing, which may mean cutting out complicated text or technical jargon.

We get it! You don’t want to have to feel as though you need to “dumb down” your copy because you believe your audience is smart. And that may be true! But for someone who is new to your business or may not be within the same industry you are, too much high-level text can be intimidating and throw someone off from reading what you have to say.

In addition, making the text too complicated can lead your audience to your competitors. Keep it simple and make it easy to follow.

9. You’re Keeping Your Copy Too Top-Secret

In other words, don’t be shy about your copy! Give it to a second pair of eyes to take a look at and make sure you’re moving in the right direction.

Similar to perfectionism, you may be hesitant to share your copy with others until it’s done. But additional members of your team can help identify errors and make suggestions.

Because they’re seeing your writing for the first time, they’ll be able to read it as a consumer and know if it’s sending the right message. Choose someone you trust for this task. Whether it’s a co-owner, manager, or someone else who has a little bit of writing experience. Trust select members of your team and let them help you.

Furthermore, be careful about sharing your copy with too many people. One or two opinions are helpful. Any more than that may begin to cloud your judgment and produce conflicting ideas or suggestions.

10. You Aren’t Really Proving Your Point

Here’s where your previous experience and past results come in handy. In other words, if you have a point to make, then prove it with facts and figures. This may mean you need to dig into your revenue files, ask your financial department, or search for information online. But it’s worth it if it’s impressive.

Are you attempting to convince someone to buy your start-up product? Let them know you’ve made over $5 million in sales in the past year.

Would you like people to put a little more faith in your services? Let them know you have a 4.5-star rating on Google, Yelp, or any other review sites. 

It’s okay to brag about yourself a little to prove a point and convince others to trust in your business. Feature your highlights in places like main headlines, subheadings, or callouts. Keep in mind that these are likely the areas of your writing that they’ll read when scanning your text.


Want to improve your website copy? Download our free guide and start with your home page.

When Was The Last Time You Updated Your Home Page?

Answer these 6 questions and spruce up your home page in 15 minutes (or less).

Updating Your Website Copy to Increase Conversion

Updating Your Website Copy to Increase Conversion & Engagement (Even When Your Business Has Been Put on Hold) in 7 Simple Steps

It’s no secret that COVID-19 has impacted businesses all over the world. I talk to at least 5 business owners a day that have either had to put their business on hold, are overwhelmed with growth, or are somewhere in between. If you’re one of the companies in limbo, this blog is for YOU. Downtime can be discouraging. But, it’s so important to stay positive and keep the ball rolling! One way to do just that is by investing in your marketing. That’s why we put together this guide on updating your website copy to increase conversion and engagement (even when your business has been put on hold). 

What’s Website Copy? 

So, what’s website copy? Website copy is all the words on your site. But more than that, it’s what communicates to your audience what their need or problem is (if they didn’t know already), your solution, and why you’re the right decision for them. What does your customer need to hear to make a buying decision?

Now more than ever, a majority of the interactions clients have with your business will be through your website. Well-written website copy ensures your site is helpful for existing clients and makes a great first impression with new ones.

Why Update Your Website Copy?

A website should be 100% organic – that means it should change, evolve, and be updated as time goes on. A hard-coded website or one that is difficult to change in a moment’s notice is going to lock you into something that’s not working for you. 

So why update your website copy? 

We see lots of companies who put up a website home page and then never invest in their marketing again. After 10 years, it’s still the same home page. Their business has changed over that decade, but their website copy doesn’t reflect the changes. 

It’s stagnant. 

Keeping your website organic will encourage your clients to engage with your business more, and help convert those engagements into successful transactions.

How Website Copy Impacts Engagement & Conversion

How can updating your website copy impact engagement and conversion? Here are a couple of examples…

It Conveys Reliability

Suppose you used to offer a service that you no longer do. You’ll want to reflect those changes on your website. If clients who visit your site discover the information isn’t up-to-date, they’ll get the impression that your company is unreliable and engage with it less in the future. To encourage engagement, offer updated website copy.

It Makes It Easy For Clients To Find What The Need

Has your business started to offer new products or services since your last website update? As the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind”. Your clients can’t buy your new services or products if they don’t know you’re offering them! Conversion rates will grow if you make it as easy as possible for your audience to find what they’re looking for and convince them your solution is the best.

If your business has had to slow down in the past month, take advantage of the downtime to rebuild engagement and increase conversion by updating your website copy. 

Determine If You’re Doing Minor Changes or A Massive Overhaul

Updating your website copy doesn’t have to be an intimidating process. You can make minor changes or get creative with a massive overhaul. 

Minor Changes

Even minor changes to your website copy can go a long way! 

Refine Your Headline Keywords

Are the keywords on your website specific enough to help your clients find what they need? Something as simple as re-phrasing your headlines to target your audience can help increase traffic – and eventually engagement and conversion rates.  

Make Small, Regular Updates

Are you keeping your clients in the loop about how current events impact their access to your business (especially in the midst of COVID-19)? Adding regular updates to your site will keep clients informed about how to continue to use your services or buy your products – in times of a pandemic or otherwise!

Massive Overhaul

When business is busy, marketing often slips by the wayside. If you haven’t had the chance to update your website copy, it’s not too late to get started on a massive overhaul! 

Does your website reflect your company’s values and brand? Does the copy highlight your current products and services? Can clients request them online? Is your website optimized for mobile viewing with easy-to-use navigation?

These are all places to look for opportunities to improve engagement and conversion. 

Updating Your Website Copy to Increase Conversion & Engagement in 6 Simple Steps

Whether you’re gearing up for major or minor updates to your website copy, it’s important to keep in mind both what to improve and how to improve it. Here are 6 simples steps to start updating your website copy to increase conversion and engagement.

1. Build a Brand Voice Guide 

Updating your website copy doesn’t have to be time-consuming and you don’t have to be a gifted writer either! When you build a Brand Voice Guide, you’ll be able to let someone else do the heavy lifting for you. In your Brand Voice Guide, you’ll outline which emotions and tones writers should use to update and edit your website copy. That way, you can rest assured that everything on your website is aligned with your company’s brand. 

Creating a Brand Voice Guide streamlines the copywriting process and fosters familiarity with your brand to improve conversion and engagement. You’ll get more growth with less effort. Check out our blog for more on why having a brand voice is critical to business growth

2. Record Your Baseline Metrics

After building a brand voice guide to expedite the copywriting process, where do you start making improvements to your existing copy? You can evaluate where changes should be made by taking down your metrics. 

Are You Reaching Your Audience?

Your engagement metrics tell you how good your website is at reaching your audience. This includes how many visitors your website typically gets per month, how many of these are new visitors, and how long each visitor spends on each page. 

Do you have many visitors to your homepage but not nearly as many for your services page? This doesn’t necessarily mean that visitors don’t want to engage with your services – they might just have a hard time finding them! 

Take note of which pages of your website have low engagement metrics so you can create a strategy to improve them. 

How Often Are People Taking Action (Buying, Subscribing, or Enrolling)?

Your conversion metrics tell you how often a client takes an action that you recommend to them. How often are clients buying your products or services, scheduling a consultation, or signing up for your newsletter? You’ll know that your copy needs improvement if your website has a lot of visitors, but few are following through with these actions. 

Don’t worry – low conversion metrics don’t necessarily mean clients aren’t interested in what you’re offering. A lot of the time, it simply means you need to update your copy to better communicate to clients how they’ll benefit from your offers.

3. Save Existing Copy Into A Blank Document

Storage is cheap, but your time isn’t! Before you dive into making any changes to your website, be sure to save the existing copy into a blank document. While some of your content might be new, a lot of it can be updated from what was already there before. It’ll also show you where you’ve been and where you don’t want to go again.

4. Write Emotionally With Benefits Taking The Lead

Your company offers valuable services and goods. But how can you express this value to your clients? Keep your audience at the forefront by writing emotionally with benefits to your client taking the lead. 

If you ask Harvard Business Review, people find the most value in products and services that serve their functional and emotional needs. Companies that address these in their writing have greater customer loyalty and growth. 

What does your client need practically and emotionally when they seek out your business? Address these needs, and offer a solution in your copy.

5. Review It Thoroughly

Next, you need to review the copy thoroughly for grammar, syntax, flow, and clarity. At FocusCopy, we always have at least 2 sets of eyes on each piece of copy we send out. Usually, we have 3 sets of eyes – 2 sets that haven’t worked on the development side. 

Check out our proofreading tips that we use to review every single piece of copy.

6. Update the Live Page

Before you update the live page with your newly written and thoroughly reviewed copy, take a before photo. You can add extensions to your browser that take a full screen capture – taking a photo of the entire page without you having to merge multiple screenshots of it.

Once you have the before photo, reveal your fresh look to the world. If your remodeling included major changes, send out an email to existing customers to highlight what your exciting new site features make easier for them! 

7. Test & Continue to Refine Copy

Remember, great website copy is truly organic. Continue to take down your metrics, compare them with old metrics, and refine your copy accordingly. You can also take advantage of split testing of headlines or landing pages to see which keywords and images resonate the most with your audience. 

Your company may be experiencing downtime, but there’s always a place to move forward and grow with your online marketing.

Looking for some help getting started? We write copy that communicates how you (the company) transforms your customer’s lives. When a customer feels heard, they are much more likely to engage with your brand and ultimately convert. Learn more about FocusCopy’s copywriting services here.

Proofreading Tips From Pro Copywriters

Is there anything worse than when you catch grammar mistakes on websites, social media posts, or worse… printed material?

Personally, when I find a grammar mistake, I become so fixated on that mistake that I go on a treasure hunt to find more mistakes. If the author of that piece of copy only knew… Phew! I sure am not taking the intended action on that page.

In this blog, I’m revealing all my proofreading tips that we use to dramatically improve our client’s existing copy and make it easier for their target audience to want to take the next step in the customer journey.

While there is a stark difference between editing and proofreading, we think it’s important that both of them happen. Editing is working on the messaging and the actual content itself. This is a much larger undertaking than its opponent. Proofreading focuses more on the flow, typos, and grammar mistakes. When we talk about proofing in a general sense, we also include editing into that. 

Every Piece of Copy Needs to Be Proofed & Edited

Plain and simple… Every piece of copy needs to be proofed. When copy or content is not proofed and there are mistakes littered throughout, you risk losing credibility, customers, etc.

Imagine this… Your all-star client sends you an email letting you know about a typo in your latest blog. 

Ouch.

It not only hurts to hear that from that client, but think about these two things…

  1. Other prospects aren’t as kind or forgiving as your all-star client. They’ll click to the next company because they don’t want to waste time with a company who doesn’t care enough to actually proof their copy. Potential revenue… Gone. Your competitors are benefitting from your careless mistakes.
  2. If your company cannot do something as simple as writing without grammar mistakes, then what other areas of quality are you skipping? Product manufacturing, quality control, product delivery, etc.?

Proofreading Tips From Pro Copywriters

As copywriters, we must be in the business of proofing too. In fact, we spend just as much, or even more, time proofreading and editing than it takes to write the entire piece of copy

Here are our 3 proofreading tips that every person writing content or copy should follow. This includes any emails going out to clients from the CEO to customer support and everyone in between.

1. Print It Out – Then Recycle

There is nothing like putting a pen to paper and ripping the content apart. It’s personal and keeps you connected to the art of writing. Some people claim they can do it on screen, but we’ve found it requires less effort and results in fewer errors when marking up the printed copy! Think about it… You read it, mark it up, then you re-read it as you edit your live copy. That’s 2 whole rounds of proofing, not just one (as it would be if you proof on-screen)!

So print out the copy (2-sided), and start marking it up. I’ll share a few of my editing marks later in this blog.

Proofreading Tips

Another alternative to printing it out is to switch on the Editing or Suggesting mode in your document provider (Microsoft Word, Google Docs, etc.).

2. Read It Out Loud

While you have it printed out, read it out loud. 

Every last word. 

Why? Because it should flow easily and sound natural. 

If you find yourself stumbling over a sentence or a phrase, reorganize the sentence while you’re reading through it. Then read it back out loud. Repeat until it sounds natural. If you don’t read it out loud, then you actually start to read what you think you wrote, not what you actually wrote. Verbalizing it eliminates this human trait.

Another thing that we do – especially when we are in the thick of editing – is to read it out to another person. They will be able to help you to catch all the errors, syntax issues, and content issues. This works especially well for large or complex pieces of copy. Yes, it burns the other person’s time, but it ultimately saves time, and therefore money every time.

3. Mark It Up

Finally, mark it up. Here are some short hand notations you can use while you edit. 

Proofreading Tips

You can read other proofreaders’ marks in the Chicago Manual of Style.

Proofreading Tips

Don’t have access to a printer? Or don’t want to waste paper? Many document providers like Microsoft Word or Google Docs has a suggesting tool where you can market it all up. Then you have the right to refuse or suggest the edits. They are good, but often you can do better with pen and paper.

Things to Look For When Proofreading

Now that you have a system, it’s time to figure out what you’re looking for. One thing that we commonly do is attack the entire copy with one perspective (i.e. spelling then flow) at a time then move onto the next. It helps you keep focused on the task at hand. 

Clarity of Message

First things first… Is the message you are writing about as clear as possible? Now, this isn’t a true and hard science. It’s helpful to put the copy in front of someone who has no clue what your writing about or who you are writing for. This is extremely helpful when explaining something technical or complicated. They will be able to indicate if your message is clear and universally understandable. 

Read more about our CFE Framework where the first step is bringing clarity to the topic. 

Focused Message

After you have deemed the message clear, it’s time to determine if it’s focused. In other words, this is where you cut the fluff, extra embellishments, and filler words or phrases (e.g. “like”, “as such”, “in order to:, etc.) that add to the word count but not to the effectiveness of the copy.

Spelling Mistakes

The most obvious thing to look for when proofing is spelling mistakes. While spell check has made it extremely easy to catch spelling mistakes, there are so many words that are used interchangeably wrongly. 

For example:

  • Except vs. Accept
  • Too vs. To
  • Their vs. They’re vs There
  • Your vs. You’re
  • Loose vs. Lose
  • Insure vs. Ensure

Sometimes, spell check corrects your misspelt word to a word with a completely different meaning. It now says there are no spelling mistakes, but some sentences may have completely different meanings or simply don’t make sense. This is where proofing comes in!

Syntax / Flow

The next thing to look at is the syntax or flow of your content or copy. Syntax is the set of rules, principles, and/or processes that determine sentence structure, usually including word order. Does it sound natural? Not clunky?

A great way to check for the flow is always to read it out loud. I know we’ve said this before, but it’s really important not to skip over.

Brand Voice

Another thing to take a look at is your brand voice. Is the piece of content or copy synonymous with your brand voice? You need it to sound consistent with the rest of the content on your website or your copy.

Readability

Finally, a good test of readable content is to check its readability score. There are two tests that we use frequently with our copy…

  • Flesch-Kincaid Readability Score
  • Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level
  • Gunning Fog Index

There are many readability tests online where you can paste your copy into their test and it will rate it. 

Proofreading Tips

The Flesch-Kincaid Readability Score was originally developed to determine the ease of military processes and procedures. Business writing needs to be around a 65; however, anything between 60 and 80 is considered a good score. 

The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level is similar to the readability score; however, it determines the grade level the text is catered to. Most business writing targets the grade-level 7.5; it used to be 8th grade but it has since been changed. Writing at this level means the copy is complex enough to engage interest but simple enough not to strain the brain. Writing at 20th grade (which some writers do) is only intelligible to post-graduates with three or more degrees. While my co-founder Stuart Broderick may be able to understand that language with his Ph.D. in physics, the rest of us will pass. 

Both measurements focus on word length (syllables) and sentence length. For example, if there are too many sentences with over 20 words in them, then you risk reducing your readability score. 

Finally, there is the Gunning Fog Index. Its scoring mechanism is based on the grade level of which the text is appropriate for. For example, a 12 would be suitable for seniors in high school or 18-year olds. Most text should be at or below a 12 if you are in a B2B setting. If your intended audience is extremely wide, it is best to aim for 7th or 8th grade. 

There are many other readability scores or grade level scoring indexes, but they all focus on the same thing – how easy it is to read a piece of content.

Avoiding Proofreading All Together

There is one sure way of avoiding proofreading all together. 

Hire professional copywriters or retain a copywriting firm.

This only applies when you hire professional copywriters that are obsessed with quality. At FocusCopy, we have quality controls to ensure that a single piece of copy does not leave our office without being proofed by at least 2 people. Why? Because the value is in the copy and the value can be immediately lost if there are grammar or flow issues. 

Have any other proofreading tips? Let us know about them in the comments below.