This post was originally published as a Monday Medicine Letter, my weekly dose of inspiration and education for plant-based entrepreneurs. I write these letters to help business owners like you grow flourishing businesses without selling out, burning out, or going it alone. Want in? You can subscribe here.
Over the past month or so I’ve been doing Website Audits for various businesses, and giving the owners some constructive feedback on how they can:
- better capture the essence and values of the business
- be more FDA/FTC compliant
- be more compelling so that more folks can see the value of the offerings
- be more inclusive, accessible, navigable, and rooted in consent
It’s been LOADS of fun, and also really interesting to see repeating patterns emerge in the kinds of recommendations I’ve been giving.
So I thought today I would share 5 recommendations I’ve found myself repeating to folks, so that even if you’re not in the market for a full-on, personalized audit, you’d have some easy, actionable items that you could implement on your own.
So without further ado, here are a few hot tips, free of charge, that just might apply to your business and its website.
If your offerings are intended for “women,” be really clear what you mean by that.
It’s quite common in the wellness/herbal industries for folks services and products to be marketed towards “women.” And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that — after all, we get to decide what kinds of folks we work with.
BUT. If we’re going to use the words women or woman on our website, let’s get clear who we’re talking about here. Because not everyone uses those words in the same way, and if we’re not explicit it can leave potential clients feeling unnecessarily excluded.
If you include both cis and trans women in that defintion, let people know. If you include non-binary folks, say that. This can be as simple as adding a little asterisk and some text in your footer saying “By women I mean both cis and trans women as well as non-binary folks.” This not only helps people with marginalized genders feel welcome, but also signals your values to everyone and increases the likelihood that folks will feel they can trust you.
Add alt text to your images.
“Alt text” is the written copy that is read by screen readers so that visually impaired folks know what the images are communicating. It’s also what will appear on your website if for any reason the images don’t load. So it’s really an accessibility issue.
It’s especially important for images that contain key information, like your logo, images that contain important text, or pictures that are otherwise key to communicating something about your business.
Not only that, but having alt text associated with your images increases the likelihood you’ll rank higher on search engines (it’s part of SEO, or “search engine optimization”), and show up in image search results that contain keywords you include. It’s a win-win, really.
How you do this will depend on what website builder you use, but in most cases you can edit it in your media library, and the alt text will populate to anywhere the image appears on your site.
Let us see your beautiful face!
I get it. It can feel weird, vulnerable, and uncomfortable to share images of ourselves online. Especially if we don’t the mold of what Audre Lorde called “the mythical norm.”
But as humans we are hard-wired to connect with people via their faces. And if I don’t see yours, it makes it that much harder for me to connect with you, feel like I know who you are, and to trust you.
You 100% don’t need professional headshots — so upload that selfie or have your bestie take a pic of you. Then, at the very least, add it to your About page. And don’t forget the alt text describing what you look like, who you are, and what you do (e.g. “picture of Erma Gerd, clinical herbalist and death doula. She has long purple hair and a full face tat and is smiling while holding her 20 pound Maine Coon cat Buster”).
Tell us why we should care before you tell us anything else.
As I shared during our inaugural skillshare in the Greenhouse Membership, people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it (h/t Simon Sinek). And a big part of that is telling them why they should care.
So instead of starting your sales copy telling me the boring logistics of how long an herbal consult is, or listing off the ingredients in your product, take a hot minute and tell me what the vision is. What is this product or service going to help them do? What will it help them avoid? What’s the outcome? And why is that important?
Until you’ve answered these questions for people, sharing the details will be like talking into a unplugged microphone.
Compliance, compliance, compliance
Product makers especially take notice here. While you will probably be able to get away with for a minute, it’s worth getting in the habit of not making claims on your website.
That means not naming specific disease states in your product descriptions or blog posts (yes, even if it comes after the phrase “traditionally used for”). Or publishing testimonials that do that. It means not linking directly to PubMed studies. Or making claims about the nutrient content of your products.
Granted, this means getting really creative, especially when paired with Tip #4 — how can we communicate the outcome if we can’t make claims? This is where hiring a copywriter versed in compliance can come in really handy (see below), but in the meantime, do your business a favor and scrub your site from any blatant claims language.
Really, there’s so much more that goes into making a website that is welcoming, compelling, and compliant, but that should be a good amount of things to get you started.
I’d love to know: which of these tips feel most applicable to you? Not sure how to implement? Comment below and let me know, and I’ll see if I can help. 🙂
If you’re interested in going deeper and getting an in-depth, personalized review of your website copy and design, there’s still a few spots left in the beta rate of the Website Audit. Let’s take this thought work off your plate so that you can spend your precious time working with the plants. You can learn more about it and snag one of those spots here.
Want to take not just the though work off your plate, but also all that writing as well? I’m in the early stages of cooking up a comprehensive Done-For-You copywriting offer, and am looking for some eager beavers who are ready to have professional, compliant and non-manipulative copy filling the pages of their website (with bonus copy you can cut and paste into emails and social media posts). if that’s you, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Write my website!” for more info.