Monday was a necessary admin day: lots of emails, project management, money stuff, fixing my printer. I wrote some email and social copy to promote my new back to basics guide to content strategy and content strategy canvas. Finally, I had two calls with potential clients to find out more about what they’re looking for. This is dull and not really worth writing about, but I think it’s something people don’t understand about being self-employed: there is so much admin!
On Tuesday, I spoke at the Media Trust’s Websites Unlocked panel. I made some notes on the questions beforehand, so I thought I’d share them here:
What makes a good charity website?
For me, a good charity website is one that’s purposeful. It’s not about having a flashy design, amazing images, or loads of video. It’s about having a good understanding of who uses the site and what they need. Then delivering on that in a clear, useful, usable, accessible way that ladders up to your organisation’s goals. It doesn’t matter whether your website is focused on delivering info and advice, signposting real-life services, or fundraising — the foundations are the same. A good site is built on knowing what your user needs, knowing what your organisation wants to achieve, and then creating content for the sweet spot between the two.
How can we really listen to our audience, especially when we don’t have the budget for user research?
User research can be free or very cheap — although it’s always going to take time. I come from the school of thought that it’s better to do something than nothing. It doesn’t matter if you can’t go out an do it in the textbook, perfect way.
If you’re just starting out, I would suggest picking something small and contained to begin with. Pick one little problem or a single page and do research just for that.
In an age of TikTok, and AI, is SEO still relevant?
Yes, search is still relevant. If I only had a budget for one of the two, I’d be spending it on my website rather than TikTok.
One billion videos are viewed on TikTok every day, and about 38% of people in the UK are on TikTok. That’s compared to about 70% on Facebook and 60% on Instagram. It’s a lot, but it’s nowhere near the volume of searches going through Google: 40,000 search queries every second., or 3.5 billion searches per day.
We go through these hype cycles with social channels. It starts out being exciting and amazing, and we put loads of time and effort into it. Then it gets harder and harder to get attention and engagement, and our interest fades.
Ultimately, it has to come down to your audience and whether they actually use TikTok? And do they use it in a way that’s relevant to your charity? A good approach might be to find partners or influencers to work with, rather than putting all your effort into creating your own content. Look at the way Lush now uses social media.
What are some quick and easy ways charities can plan their web content to ensure it remains engaging, informative, and aligned with their audience’s interests and needs?
Think quality, not quantity: make way, way less content.
Iterate rather than create: how can you improve what you already have? Don’t just publish and walk away.
Before you write/create any content, start with a user need statement:
- As a ………………….
- I want to …………………..
- In order to …………………..
And it should never end up as something like:
- As a member of the public
- I want to read about Pope’s disease
- In order to educate myself about Pope’s disease
This format should force you to interrogate the real reasons someone needs this piece of content. If you can’t fill it in, you’re not ready to create this content and you need to do some research. If you still can’t so it after that, it probably doesn’t need to exist.
I had a mad rush of toolkit enquiries and sales after the session. (My toolkits are free for charities with an income of £100,000 or less.) It also turned out that I had messed up the email confirmation automation I set up for the new product. So I spent most of the afternoon in a frenzy of fixing issues. I also let myself get wildly distracted by checking for new sales. (The adrenaline-dopamine combo of a £10 sale really gets me buzzing.)
Another brain-fog-induced day off.
I prepped for a couple of meetings. One was a kick-off meeting I’m running next week. I designed some exercises to help us get the project off to a good start, using the PipDecks Workshop Tactics deck for some inspiration. The other was for a structured coaching session, for which I looked back at some training I did a while back.
I wrote a proposal for the potential client I spoke to on Monday. It’s another project that’s part mentoring/coaching, and part consultancy.
Finally, I created a survey to gather some data to help me improve my product/paid content offering. I’m going to do a big overhaul of this over the next few months. If you want to contribute, here’s the survey (there’s a prize!): https://form.jotform.com/232754735978372
A day of content design. It took me a while to get into it, but when I finally found some flow, it felt really productive.