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Have you ever walked away from a zoom call, sales pitch, or cold call feeling duped? Like you know you agreed to a service or product that you aren’t 100% confident about.
Marketing tactics like these rely on shame, scarcity, and manipulation to encourage potential clients to buy. And they don’t just happen on those anonymous phone calls you regret answering. We’re actively taught these unethical techniques in business and sales courses, we see them in commercials, and we experience them in everyday encounters.
It’s no wonder we often repeat them in our website copy too!
But there is a way to connect with your audience and make sales that leave both you and your dream clients feeling proud, excited, and just plain ol’ good about working together.
It’s called ethical copywriting.
Ethical copywriting is website copy that is compassionate, clear, and rooted in human experiences.
And it’s one way to combat manipulative marketing techniques.
By writing honest, uplifting, and nuanced website copy, you act with integrity and cultivate a trusting relationship with your clients that transforms them into lifetime fans.
You hop on a Discovery Call with a website designer who creates stunning sites but doesn’t share their prices online. Once on the call, you realize their services are outside of your budget but they talk about how your business won’t take off without a website designed by them and you feel pressured to agree to their proposal right then.
Is that someone you’re going to rave about? I’m definitely not. Imagine this instead:
You land on the website of a designer you found on Instagram and she shares her values (transparency, strategy, badassery) right away plus she even gives a typical timeline for projects. When you explore her services page, you realize her custom website design package is out of your budget but she offers templates and template redesign options at a more affordable option. She also shares that she is happy to create custom payment plans if needed!
I’d excitedly tap the inquire button for designer number two and tell alllll my biz friends about them.
Integrity should dictate every step you take with your business and how you interact with clients. And is should also be evident in your messaging and marketing…which leads us to ethical copywriting.
Read on to discover the three cornerstones of ethical copywriting and how to can use them in your own website copy.
Everyone has their own way of learning, background, and privileges. Yet oftentimes when selling, we position ourselves as the best/only/expert way of reaching a goal to paint ourselves as desirable and knowledgeable. In other instances, we might make sweeping generalizations about our target audience.
But these practices don’t respect the diverse experiences humans have or the individual needs everyone holds.
Think about how specific your target audience is and the effort you went to narrow down to your niche. You considered what your dream clients are struggling with, where they’re at in their life, what their goals are, what they value, and what they enjoy so you could serve them best.
Despite all this research, brainstorming, and strategizing, you still don’t know the individual stories or experiences of all your potential clients.
Ethical copywriting makes room for those stories by rejecting authoritative, one-size-fits-all approaches and offering space for flexibility, learning, and growth.
What does that look like in practice?
So, go ahead and take a peek at your current business offerings, process, and system. Is there a way you can offer more spaces in your services to allow for individual needs?
Writing ethical copy means striking the delicate balance of encouraging potential clients to sign up for your services now while avoiding any clickbait titles, exaggerated promises, or false urgency.
That means ditching blog titles like ‘The Only Copywriting Tool You Need to Sell Out Your Services’ or stating that you ‘only have two spots available’ when you’re opening up your availability in a few days.
Ethical copywriting involves transparency and honesty. The goal is to give your dream clients all the information they need to make an informed decision about you and your business.
What does that look like in practice?
Avoid pressuring clients to sign up for your new service out of fear. Instead, consider offering a discount or bonus lesson if someone signs up within 48 hours to create a sense of urgency and added value.
Have you heard how important it is to step into your dream client’s shoes, to understand their struggles, values, and goals, and then speak to them directly? Understanding and recognizing someone else’s experiences is crucial to nurturing relationships and creating sales.
People want to feel seen, heard, and understood.
But a common copywriting technique is to provoke your client’s pain point to drive them to make a change based on feelings of embarrassment.
Ethical copywriting doesn’t make accusations or broad assumptions, and it doesn’t rely on fear or manipulation. Instead, it empathizes with how your readers are feeling and asks open questions about their experiences.
For example, someone who writes personality-packed copy could say:
‘You feel like your copywriting is cold, harsh, or manipulative.’
‘Do you feel like your messaging is missing heart, soul, and empathy?’
Both messages identify a reader’s struggles and feelings, but the former makes negative accusations about a client’s writing while the latter asks about the reader’s goals. When it comes to creating a positive experience for your clients, simply swapping pain-provoking statements for empathetic questions makes all the difference.
It takes time and effort to unlearn manipulative marketing techniques, and ethical copywriting requires digging deep into your brand’s benefits and purpose. But by building your messages around the lived experiences of your target audience and showing them empathy, ethical copywriting helps you create content that attracts dream clients who share your values and are eager to work with you.
If you want to create a positive, human-centric experience for your clients while still booking out your services, then let’s talk about website copy packages!
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do-good brands in the creative and adventure industries.