Jakob Nielsen, a famous web usability guru, claims that most people only skim read web pages and only eleven percent of people will actually read the whole web page word for word to the end. That is the reason why Web publications differ dramatically from print publications in layout, design and readability. Writers, looking to pursue careers as content writers or copywriters for the Internet, need to understand these differences.
Thus, why is writing for the web different? The answer is that the mindset of readers is different. If you see an ad on TV, listen to a radio spot, open a direct mail package or read an ad in a magazine, you are essentially having some other tasks interrupted. They try to get your attention, while you are reading a magazine article, watching a TV program, etc.
The web is different in that respect. Most web pages are found via a search engine, which means that your readers have been looking for you or someone like you. They have an objective in mind, they are task-oriented and are focused and intent on finding a particular product, service or a piece of information.
Many people love to write, they do not necessarily love to write about toilet paper and real-estate. Copywriters - in particular web copywriters - write, since it is their job. The task of a web copywriter is to create a text content for a site. A web copywriter is also responsible for gathering information, writing and editing. Like all other web copywriting jobs, the process of copywriting has very defined objectives and parameters, which determine how a copywriter works. There are two primary commercial realities for a web copywriter. If you understand these realities, you will understand the writer.
First, most websites rely on search engines for their traffic. Your web copywriter has to write for two broad audiences: human and computer and it introduces a number of complexities, since these audiences quite often want different things.
For instance, when it comes to human, less is generally more. Humans need to understand, hence the fewer words, the better. However, with computers, more is more, since search engines, on the other hand, are programmed to think that anything important enough to be ranked highly has to have many of words. The job of a web copywriter is to balance these conflicting requirements. Consequently, if you want your copywriter to work faster and more efficiently, do not demand too few words or too many.
Second, these things may be painfully obvious to you; however, they might not be to your web copywriter. Thus, it will be wise to make a list of what you do, who you do it for and what benefits it gives them before hiring a web copywriter.
Customers are only interested in how you can benefit them. It means that in order to write a good website, your copywriter will keep asking you "What are the benefits of that to your customer?" Later, you will definitely thank him for asking.
Do not confuse features with benefits. A feature is what you do or how you do it, while a benefit is what advantage it brings to the customer. If you want to save much time and money, make a clear distinction between the two.
Website copywriting is an art form with a commercial foundation. You will be able to make the most of your website copywriter, only when you understand the commercial realities of a copywriter.