Most sites launch late because you’ve got no content. And then most languish after launch, for the same reason.
I keep count of project delays at my company. Over the last 7 years, late or insufficient content caused 65% of all delays. Software problems, additional features, illnesses, natural disasters and random other stuff all comprise the rest. Ouch.
Why is it so hard? First, no one likes to write about themselves or their organizations. Second, writing is always saved for the end of the project. Third, everyone thinks everyone else is doing the writing.
Here are some ways you can break the logjam and get some stuff written:
1. Make the Copy the Third Step
Don’t wait until the end of the project. You should work in this order:
Yes, you write the content before you start on the site design! It’s far easier to create a good-looking site when you have real writing to work with instead of res ipsa loquitor, trust me.
2. Produce Raw Material, in Little Chunks
Take your site map (you have a site map, right?) and write each page on a 3 x 5 card. Throw the cards into a box. Have each person on your team draw a card. They have to write 200 words for that page.
Give them a clear deadline, and make sure they understand they only have to produce the roughest of rough drafts. No polish necessary. A professional can deal with that (see the next item).
3. Hire a Professional
If you don’t have a copywriter on staff, hire one to revise the stuff you’ve gotten from each team member.
The copywriter can take the notes you give them and turn it into good copy much faster than if they have to start from scratch.
It’s not that expensive, especially since they’ll have your initial work to start with. And it’s worth every penny.
4. Set a Drop Date
Set a hard date when you will hand over the copy, in whatever condition, to the design team. That lets them start working with it. Sure, you’ll have edits. And yes, that may create a little repetition. But the head start you’ll gain will more than balance it out.
5. Set Another Drop Date
Then set a date for when the final content goes live. Again, don’t let this slip. Assuming the deadline is reasonable and everyone has put forth an honest effort, whatever you have at this point will be suitable for public consumption.
In the words of Secretary Rice, don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good.
You’re Not Done
Of course, you’re never done with great writing. You’ll add to it, grow it, and perfect it. But you’ll also have a site live, with great copy. And it’s a lot easier to expand on that than on nothing.