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Why The Words On Your Site Matter As Much As the Design

Why The Words On Your Site Matter As Much As the Design

This may seem like a funny topic to appear on graphic design website, but it’s true, the words on your website do matter as much as the design. As a copywriter, I’m definitely partial to words. But in multiple conversations with Madison and other graphic artists like her, it’s often a complaint on both sides of the fence. No matter how you look at it, words matter. Period.

While it’s true that we live in a visual world, where beautifully curated photos and impressive videos abound, words will always carry weight. They may not be the first thing you see on a stunning website, but they are often the point where persuasion meets action.

What Difference Do Words Make?

Finish these sentences for me:

“Four score and _____.” – Abe Lincoln

Be the change ______ see in the world.” - Ganhi

“_____ Do It.” – Nike

“Snap! _____! Pop!” – Rice Krispies

“Toto, I’ve got a feeling _____.” – Dorothy Gale, The Wizard of Oz

“If you liked it, then you should have  ______” – Beyoncé (Don’t act like you don’t know it!)

We could do this all day, right? Images stick with you, yes, but so do words.

Words have the power to inspire, engage, anger, and move us in countless ways. So, if you are focusing all your efforts on what your website looks like, but not giving much thought to what it sounds like, you’re missing half of the equation!

A gorgeous website with no substance is unlikely to get you far with your ideal audience. It’s like a car with no gas. A plane with no pilot. Peanut butter with no jelly.

That’s what makes this a common complaint for designers as well as copywriters. Graphic designers know this as well. They’ll create their little hearts out, but at the end of the day, you need both powerful words and images to compel your tribe.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s talk about three ways to improve your website copy.

Hire a Copywriter

No surprise that I wrote this as my top suggestion, but hang with me. It makes sense to hire someone skilled in a specific area for a particular job. It’s the same reason I hired Mad + Dusty to create my own website. They’re much better at it!

Here are a few reasons why you should consider hiring a pro:

  • You’re a good writer, but you’re slow and needed elsewhere.

  • You’re not a good writer, and that’s evident when someone reads your site. (Speaking truth in love, people!)

  • You’re too close to your work, and can’t see it the way someone else does.

  • You have a hard time explaining what you do well, in memorable language, or without using “insider” language or jargon.

  • You don’t need a complete makeover, but you could use some editing and a touch up.

I have no idea where your website copy falls on that spectrum, but here’s what I will tell you. First of all, this is an investment. Unless you go through major changes, you don’t have to rewrite your website every year. Second, consider the outcome. If you invested a lot of time and money into your website, but it’s not doing its job, or no one ever tells you how great it is, there could be a big problem. Third, how many websites do you visit each week? If you don’t have anything enticing for them to show up and look at, you’re doing your organization a disadvantage.

If you’re working with talented designers like Madison and Dusty, I already know your work is important. We need it. So, let’s make sure that others take note of that when they see your site, too.

Get a Free or Cheap Outside Opinion

You know those people called friends and family? You probably know one or more of them with a keen eye and a strong love of punctuation and grammar.

Choose a couple of people who know what you do, and ask for their opinion. I’d choose a couple of folks who are either in your target market or have some sense of what you do, but don’t know it inside and out. You want an educated guess, not someone who sees it the exact same way you do. Objectivity is the name of the game.

Ask them what they like, what confuses them, or where they have to think too hard about what you’re saying. This will help you identify areas that need to be spruced up.

I recommend getting at least three opinions so you can look for commonalities. Everyone has their own opinion, and you don’t want to get stuck in making lots of tedious edits based on one person’s feedback, especially when it doesn’t speak to anyone else’s thoughts.

Barter for Better Copy

I’m a big fan of bartering. We in the solopreneur and small businesses community are quite good at it.

Maybe you have a professional service you can trade for someone writing or editing your website, such as design, photography, or accounting. Or maybe it’s a personal service like carpooling, cleaning their house, or pet-sitting for a friend. Bonus points for creativity!

The point here is that there could be something you can give, which is also something that another person wants. Bartering is mutually beneficial, so be helpful.

Next Steps

It’s time for an honest evaluation. Take a half hour, and give the main pages of your website a good read-through. Are you impressed, inspired, or intrigued when you read it? If you can’t wow yourself, you may not be able to woo your website’s visitors. And that’s a big problem when it comes to your sales or donations.

It’s possible that you spent all your time thinking about how your website would look, but figured that you could just throw a few paragraphs of text up on the pages and call it a day. Or, more likely, that you’d get back to that part of your site “later.” Either of these sound familiar? It’s probably time to move it back up on your To Do List.

Think about it this way. If you spend a lot of time driving people back to your website through social media, emails, conversations, handing out business cards, or relying on organic traffic, you can’t ignore your website. It’s time to up your game.

Your work probably revolves around relationships. It could be with partners and sponsors, donors, customers, and those who benefit from your mission. It’s probably also very personal. So, do your job to the best of your ability—and make sure your website does the same.

Want more website writing tips? Here are 10 mistakes you can’t afford to make.


Kristi Porter helps nonprofits and social enterprises get noticed and grow through effective marketing and communications. She also teaches solopreneurs and small businesses how to incorporate philanthropy and giving strategies. Kristi believes that cause-focused organizations are the future of business, and when they succeed, we all win.

Find her online here. and on Facebook here.

Photography for Nonprofits 101 with Angie Webb


Happy to welcome Angie Webb to the blog! Angie is a photographer and designer based out of Roswell, GA. She's done great work for organizations like Roswell Inc., Safe Happy Family, and Alliance for Organizational Excellence. I thought she'd be a great resource to share what makes brand photography so important for your nonprofit or purpose driven brand. Take it away, Angie! 

The old adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” could not be more true today. Don’t believe me? Here are some super insightful stats from


Articles with relevant images average 94% more total views than articles without images.

A press release with photos gets nearly 15% more online views than a text-only press release.

60% of consumers who use online search say they prefer to contact a business whose listing includes an image.

Nearly 70% of e-commerce website shoppers say the product image is very important when making their purchase decision.


In short, if you want people to pay attention to your message, particularly online, you’ve got to be fluent in the language of imagery! Here are some key reasons why photography is crucial to any non-profit’s marketing plan:


Photography elicits emotion.

We as people respond when we’re emotionally stirred. So whether it’s feeling enticed by an image of a cheeseburger, or feeling saddened by a photo of hungry children in third-world poverty, images pull at our heartstrings far beyond what text can do. When you’re thinking about integrating photography into your marketing plan, think about how you want people to feel when they visit your site, read your print piece, or peruse your social media profile. Make sure the images tell a congruent story with the personality you want your organization to have and are engaging the types of emotions you want your viewers to have.


Photography breeds trust.

Yes, you need donations, but first your potential donors have to trust you, the same way a customer needs to trust a for-profit business before they make a product purchase. Like it or not, people connect the quality of your marketing materials with your organization’s ability to make an impact. Portraying what you do in a consistent, high-quality manner shows potential donors that your organization has it together and can be trusted to use monetary donations effectively, efficiently, and proactively to make big changes in the world.


Photography explains impact.

Sure, statistics and charts are a super great way to show the way your non-profit is working to help the community, but photography not only breaks up the monotony of text in a document or social media post, it also creates an extra layer of explanation of what you do. When you show people the kind of change your non-profit brings about rather than tell them, people are much more excited and motivated to get on board.


Hopefully I’ve convinced you that photography should be a key part of your next big fundraising effort, but how do you get started? I’ve got a few tips:

1. Consider the use case.

Before you snap away or hire a photographer for your next event, make sure you take some time to understand how the images will be ultimately used. Do you need a full page image of volunteers for your annual report? Or maybe a wide banner with kids at play for the home page of your website? Make a plan for all the places you need imagery and what kinds of photos you’ll need so that you can work strategically and ensure you get the content you need for your next campaign.

2. Use people when possible.

Chances are high that your organization involves people at some level. Whether it’s volunteers, employees, or the people who benefit from the money raised, using pictures of people elevates the emotional impact. An image of volunteers having a blast may motivate someone to lend their time in the future. A photo of a happy child in school abroad may stir a viewer to decide to donate. So be sure to include people pictures in your photo strategy, but don’t forget to get a model release so you’ll be in the legal clear to use those images in your marketing materials. If you don’t already have one, you can snag a great model release template here.

3. Know when to hire a pro.

It might seem hard to justify paying a pro to take photos when perhaps you have a camera collecting dust on your shelf at home. Sometimes it’s best to let the pros do their thing. A pro photographer can work with you to capture all the images for the different use cases you have (see point #1 above), ensure that the images match the look and feel of your brand, and  ensure they portray a sense of high quality. I know I’m a little biased, but given how much we now know about the immense impact photography can have on your marketing capabilities, hiring a pro can absolutely pay off big time for your non-profit.

Adding photography to your already busy plate can be a little scary and overwhelming, but the opportunity to reach new people and make an even bigger impact through the language of images is well worth the extra work it takes. Best of luck this holiday season with your end of year campaigns!


Thanks so much for your insight, Angie!! Be sure to catch up with Angie Webb (and her pugs) over on Instagram

Thanks for reading!

Photos of a Paint Love event by volunteer photographer, Amber Wilburn.

How to Win at Your Holiday Market Fundraiser with Maddie Morden


Maddie Morden is a good, good friend and co-owner of Personify Shop, a lovely boutique in Lakemont, GA. She and I first met to swap ideas on marketing and merchandising over coffee. She's been dazzling me with knowledge ever since! I wanted Maddie to share her ideas on hosting a nonprofit holiday market fundraiser. Girl does not disappoint! Enjoy! 

So you’re a non-profit and you’re thinking about hosting a holiday market for buyers who are looking for Christmas presents.

This can be such a great opportunity - you make some money for your cause, makers get an opportunity to sell their goods, AND buyers get ahead on their shopping for the season!

Unfortunately, it can also be not that successful - people are very busy during this time of year. There are many things vying for their attention. Your holiday market might not be number one on their priority list.

I’m here to help you make the most of your holiday party - and suggest a couple of different options.

Holiday Market Option One!

Host your own market and invite local makers to participate. This can be really really fun! - (but can also sometimes turn into a lot of work).

Host it anywhere - at your house, your office, your church, your driveway, your neighbor's house, etc.

Have it on two different weeknights - people’s weekends typically fill up quickly during this time so there is be a better chance they can come on a weeknight, especially if you have it on two different nights.

Invite friends and local artists who are creative and make stuff to come set up and sell their stuff.

Decide on the percentage that will be going to your non-profit and what will be going to the makers. I would suggest a 70-30 split with 70% going back to the makers.

Merchandising (aka the display) is VERY important. People won’t buy stuff if it’s just thrown around willy nilly. Ask the makers to bring their own displays but be prepared to supplement. Build up height, have signage, hang stuff, etc.

Have food and drinks, music, decorate, do a giveaway - make it a party!

Holiday Market Option Two!

Partner with a local shop for an event where part of their proceeds go to your non-profit. I would suggest that this is the better option all the way around. You’ll have someone who is a pro at merchandising and already has the inventory, the space, and a customer base that wants to shop there for the holidays.

Here are some things to consider if you decide to go this route:

Find someone who is passionate about what you do… we’ve had events at Personify Shop where we’ve donated a percentage of our sales to an adoption non-profit because our family is very passionate about that cause.

Just like if you hosted your own market...Have the event multiple times. Give people a couple of different options for times to come and shop to contribute to your cause.

A shop’s profit margin is a lot less than the makers.’ Your split will probably end up being 80-20 or maybe even 90-10, but my guess is your total sales will be a lot more than if you hosted it yourself. Plus there will be so many things you won’t have to worry about - like sales tax - because the shop will take care of it.

Another reason I think this type of partnership works better is because you give people more options of things to buy and they don’t feel obligated to buy something they don’t necessarily want.

Best of luck to you this holiday season! And don’t forget to get the word out about your holiday market!

Be sure to catch up with Maddie on her Instagram @shoppersonify! Let us know if you have ideas or questions in the comments! 

Photo credits: Photo 1 - Texture Photo , Photos 2, 3 and 4 -  Holly Von Lanken