The Power of Active Voice on Website Copy

21 Jan

Your website will require an entirely different kind of writing style while marketing your self,  than the one you used to write your work in the first place. Since your website is the most important marketing tool as an online author, you have two choices: write the copy yourself or hire/beg/blackmail someone else to do it.

But if you’re in the position of copy writing for yourself, then here is a word of advice: edit for active voice.

In the context of your work, you will use both active and passive voice. While you still may want to favor active voice in creative writing (more on that later), passive voice is sometimes more appropriate. It takes the object of the sentence and transforms it into the subject, which can leave a reader questioning certain intent, and especially true if the subject is left out completely. However, in the context of an e-book the reader’s expectations allow you time to develop unique characters and languages, uncovering “subjects” as the story unravels.

This is not true on the web, and especially not when you’re wearing a marketing hat. Building your website copy is very different from creating your comic. It’s more strategic, and builds towards one simple action: purchasing your comic work.

What is Active Voice? It is the grammatical voice, or structure, in which the subject of the sentence performs or causes the action expressed by the verb.

Example: I love burritios.

The subject (I) performs the verb (love) to the object of that love (burritos).

In contrast, passive voice flips the structure so that the object stands in for the subject, and the actual subject becomes the patient.

Example: Burritos are loved by me.

When you write for the web, your voice needs to be clear, energetic and ACTIVE. Passive voice can create an awkward sentence structure that lacks energy. Self-publishing e-book authors who have 5 seconds or less to engage their audience on their website need to pack a punch with copy, and active voice will help you achieve this.

I recommend that you first write your copy despite structure, and then edit for active voice once you have defined your objectives. Apply this edit to your headlines, call to actions, tweets, facebook posts… any context in which the reader has a few precious moments to decide whether or not they should click.

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