Find your most important why... and watch how easy it becomes to stay focused.

WIIFM As a Web Writer

I was working with a nutritional therapist recently to help clarify her overall marketing message. She helps people feel better by eating better, but that message was being crushed by her desire to educate her prospects.

She’s passionate about the scientific details behind the labs and protocols of her treatment program. And she wants others to be as knowledgeable about what their bodies do with food as she is.

The problem was… she was so focused on teaching, she wasn’t closing the sale. Her conversion rate was so low, she didn’t have enough clients to put her business in the black.

When I gently asked her if her clients and prospects want to know all the details, she looked at me like I was a crazy person.

“Of course, they do!” she said. “They want to be healthy and feel better, so they need to know how to make that happen.”

“So, they’re waking up in the middle of the night wishing they had expert knowledge of nutrition?” I asked. “Are they thinking, ‘If I just had more knowledge, more education!’ all throughout the day?”

She conceded that they probably were not. And, when I asked her again what her clients really do want from her, she simply said they just want to feel better.

She finally got down to her client’s core WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?):  Feeling better.

As web copywriters, we’re trained to write to the reader’s WIIFM. We know the person buying a drill isn’t doing so because they want a drill, but because they want to make a hole. And, they want the hole for some other reason.

So, if we show them how our drill can make it faster and easier for them to make the hole and get to their end result, they’ll buy our drill.

While we’re skilled at doing this for others, how often do we define our own WIIFM? Not our client’s WIIFM in working with us, but our own WIIFM as web writers.

Why do you write web copy and content for clients? For the money? For personal satisfaction and fulfillment? Because you find it fun?

If we don’t have a clearly defined WIIFM, it’s all too easy to become distracted and not do the things we need to do as web writers. Just as it was “easier” for my nutritional therapist client to focus on educational content instead of a strong, persuasive call to action.

It’s “easier” to rake leaves, do the dishes, or walk the dogs than to face the blank screen of your laptop or see 400 words in the corner of the screen when the article you’re writing is spec’d out at a thousand.

On the other hand, when we know and remember our WIIFM, it becomes easier to stay focused… to just get to work and get the job done.

Using the “7 Layers of Why” Exercise to Define Your WIIFM

This exercise helps you find your most important “why”… your WIIFM. Like a toddler, you keep asking “Why?” after each answer. Seven times. For example:

Why do I write web copy and content for clients? I write for the money.

Why? Because I have bills to pay.

Why? Because I buy things.

Why? Because I want to have things I’ll enjoy.

Why? Because I want to have something tangible to show for my hard work.

Why? Because there has to be meaning to it all.

Why? Because I want my life and what I do to matter.

It’s best to do this exercise with a partner. Someone who will hold space for you while you answer and identify each layer of “why.” Someone who will push you to continue all the way to the seventh layer when it’s so tempting to stop after layer three or four.

And, while the answers at each level are important and valuable each in their own right, the answer at layer seven should be nearly impossible to ignore.

For example, I may want to procrastinate finishing that client’s project, but will I be able to pay the bills (level 2) if I do so? And if I don’t, will I be able to buy things (level 3), have something tangible to show (level 5), and ultimately feel like my life and what I’m doing with it matters (level 7)?

Using Your WIIFM to Stay Motivated

Being a self-employed, work-from-home, freelance web writer has great rewards. Yet sometimes those very rewards can also be our greatest challenges in getting the work done.

Setting your own flexible schedule. Reporting only to yourself. Having the freedom to “be there” for your family. All of these are fantastic, and yet they can hinder us from actually doing the work, if we let them.

That’s why we need to use our WIIFM to stay focused and motivated.

If you’re writing to earn the money to put your kids through the college of their choice, to take a dream vacation, to buy a new car, or (like the Beatles) to put in a swimming pool… not doing the work means more than just not earning the project fee.

It means disappointing your kids by limiting their college options. It means not experiencing your dream vacation, settling for driving your old car, or missing out on how it would feel to lounge around or float in that fantastic new pool right in your own backyard.

Imagine for a moment what it would feel like to miss the mark on your own level seven “why”… your core WIIFM. Whatever yours is, not having it should be a visceral hurt. It’s probably a pain you’d do anything to avoid.

The good news is you CAN avoid it!

Simply by remembering your WIIFM, holding yourself accountable to it, and getting to work.

Before you go, I’d love to hear YOUR “why”… your WIIFM. Drop a comment below to tell me and your fellow web writers why you write and what’s ultimately in it for you.


Michele Peterson

I'm a Freelance Direct-Response Copywriter specializing in web content and social media. I help clients attract new prospects, get new customers, and retain existing clients with engaging web content and strategic social media. I'm a Master Networker, having attended 400+ networking events in the past 3 years. AND I'm a proud Baseball Mom, Wine Wife, and BBQ Daughter who loves Christmas, Disneyland, and rescue dogs.

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top