How Do I Find a Copywriter?

Because drawing straws is not environmentally friendly.

Notebook writing

How do I find the right writer to work with my business? I’ve worked with freelancers before, and it’s been hit-or-miss. It’s such hard work to find the right fit, that it seems easier to sit on this project (which, to be honest, has been on the to-do list for waaaay too long anyway). How can I make this happen so it’s worth the time and effort?

Professionals Get the Job Done

There’s a lot of apprehension when it comes to hiring freelancers. We work on our own terms! We call our own shots! We’re our own bosses, and no one can tell us what to do! That can be a bit difficult for business owners who’re used to having control.

Having control over the big picture is why a lot of us got into business in the first place.

But when we need to fill holes in our expertise, or when we don’t have the time, training, or inclination to complete a particular task, it’s time to hire out.

I don’t take my own headshots or do my taxes, and you don’t have to do your own writing.

How do you find a copywriter? 

The ABBA Method

Ask for Referrals. Get a few names of people your friends like and trust.
Budget. How much do you have to spend? It can be flexible and you can be vague about it, but “$200-300” is going to be a different project than “$2000-3000.”
Brand. Think about what you want your brand voice to be. What kind of client are you appealing to?
Affinity. Read some writing from the writers you’ve been referred to. Do you feel drawn to any of them? That’s your best place to start.

Now, let’s talk details.

How to Find a Copywriter

When you hire a plumber, there are Yelp reviews. You can call and ask when they’re available, and what the job might cost. With a copywriter, you might have to do a little more legwork, but you’ll get an awesome result when you use the Dancing Queen method (AKA the Take a Chance on Me Technique, Waterloo Way, etc.).

Ask for referrals

Designers, marketers, coaches agencies, and any of your particularly well-connected business pals should know some writers. Ask around, and try to get 3-4 recommendations — more if your project timelines or budgets are tight.

Budget

How much does it cost?

How much ya got?

Kidding, kidding. 

Kind of.

Like any other professional service, it varies, and most writers get scared when you lead with “what’s it going to cost?” First, we don’t know, because we don’t have an idea of the scale of your project. Secondly, it makes us think that maybe you’re looking for a bargain. Red flag.

If your budget is $500, you won’t be able to get a website written from scratch from a professional copywriter. That’s just too much work and time. If you want a professional result, you need to budget for a professional rate.

My rates, for example, start at $150/page for simple rewrites. New copy starts at $250/page.

Projects can be done in stages, but in most cases, you’ll want to redo your entire website at one time. Strategy is hard to implement piecemeal.

Brand

You’re gathering information from your network and taking a close look at your annual budget. Now it’s time to take a close look at your current communications, and how you’d like them to change.

What kind of writing are you looking for? Is your brand voice quirky, calming, or conversational?

Before you start talking to people about how to reach your goals, know what you want your result to look like.

Affinity

Writing is not an exact science, and it’s not one-size-fits-all. You might not like my writing, and that’s okay! (If not, it’s kind of weird that you’re reading my blog anyway, but you’re very welcome.) But when you read something in a style that resonates, you’ll know. You’ll just like it more.

A copywriter’s website will probably give you enough information to go on by itself — they must’ve written it themselves, after all.

Some writers will click, and some won’t. Pay attention to that first feeling. Writers can write in different styles, some more than others. They’ll want to meet you in the middle to create “your” voice in their words. Make sure your middle ground isn’t a long journey.

What’s next?

Find one or two people whose style you like? Get in touch! See if your budget and timeline will work for them. Get a feel for how they work and communicate.

Okay, you found a couple of people you might be interested in. Cool! Contact them! It might be an email or a phone call where you can feel each other out and get an idea if it makes sense to move forward with a longer introductory meeting.

When you like their writing style, the budget and timeline work for you, they’re enthusiastic about the work you need done, they seem like good people, congratulations. You found a copywriter. Hold on to them!


What issues have you had with hiring communications professionals?

Let us know in the comments, or email me questions at hello@kelleygardiner.com.

I’m always happy to make referrals to other copywriters who fit your project needs and style.

Like this information? I have so much more for my email buddies every month. Get on the list.

Who Do I Hire — Writer, Editor, or Proofreader?

About six years ago, I needed someone to proof my book before self-publishing.

“I need an editor,” I said, probably on Facebook.

“A developmental editor or a copy editor?”

“Uhhh…”

I started googling.

For a profession that’s meant to clarify language, the title “editor” can be pretty unclear. It can mean different things in different situations — and when you need one, it pays to know exactly who it is you need to hire.

Cat sitting on homework
That’s not helping. Photo via Doug McCaughan on flickr

Shaping the Message

At a newspaper, it’s an editor. They assign story ideas, shape stories in progress, and cut what’s not working.

In small business, this is usually a content strategist. They’ll help you decide what kind of content you need, and can often coordinate creating it.

Shaping the Language

You have some content, but it’s rough around the edges. Your message not be clear, or it’s not creating the right impact as written.

At a newspaper, an associate editor might help shape stories after the writer has turned them in, making notes and asking for rewrites. They might rewrite sections themselves and write the headlines.

In business, a copywriter or editor will help you tighten up your content and make sure it appeals to your target market. They might include proofreading as well, depending on the project.

(Hey, this is a service I provide! If you need ongoing help with editing blogs and newsletters, let’s talk. I have room to take one or two new ongoing clients.)

Polishing the Finished Product

Once you’re sure your content is the right message, written in an effective way, it’s best to make sure all your grammar and usage is on point.

At a newspaper, this job is done by a copy editor or proofreader.

In business, this is done by a proofreader (though, as above, it might be included in a copy editing package). I don’t take projects that only include proofreading, but I have some wonderful proofers I work with who I’d be glad to refer you to.


Make sense? Feel free to check in with me if you have questions about any of this stuff. Don’t even feel bad if you end up hiring someone else — I’m glad to help you find someone who’s the perfect fit.


Did you find this information helpful? Awesome! It originally appeared in my newsletter. Get more super helpful tips and help for your small business (with bonus cute animal photos) delivered to your inbox once a month. No spam, just the good stuff.

6 Reasons to Pay for Professional Website Copy

Anyone can write.

…well, pretty much anyone.

Most people, given the time and access to a laptop, could write their own website copy, it’s true.

It would be fine.

You learned to read and write at school. It’s not like flying your own plane; you don’t need advanced training in order to make words appear on the page.

(Many of you would rather fly a plane into an active volcano rather than spend an hour writing, but that’s beside the point.)

Why should you hire a professional writer to do something that you could technically do yourself?

Why it pays to pay for professional copywriting

To Get it Done

You’ve been saying that you’re going to redo your website copy… for how long now?

Even if you had the know-how and the inclination, does it make sense to spend your work time doing it? Or does it make sense to delegate it to a professional?

If you’re spending more than an hour a week keeping your books, you should probably hire an accountant. If you’ve put off an important writing project for more than a month, you should probably hire a writer.

To Get a New Perspective

Many people do a proficient job with their website copy, but there’s something missing.

Something super important.

Most of us have our blind spots, and they pop up most often when we look at ourselves.

It’s extremely obvious to you what you do, but is it obvious to everyone who reads your website?

A few times a month I’ll click to someone’s business site and wonder, “What the heck does this person even sell?”

When I worked in coffee shops in college, people would ask every day where the lids were. Over time, it because astounding, especially when the customer couldn’t figure it out from a simple direction like “over by the door.” It was information that was painfully obvious to me, someone who refilled the lids 20 times every week. It was not clear to someone who was taking in large amounts of new information about the coffee shop—where to order, what to order, where to pick up their drink, who was this stunning young woman behind the counter and why was she so intriguing, etc.

Hiring a writer puts a fresh set of eyes on you and your work.

To Let Someone Else Do the Bragging For You

Sometimes, we’ll forget how important it is to talk about how awesome we are.

I find this a lot with women entrepreneurs, to be honest.

Sometimes, when a client sends me a testimonial for their work, I’m blown away. They’re getting fantastic results, their clients love them for it, yet none of that is reflected in their website copy.

I met with an acupuncturist last year who told me an amazing success story for her client. When she was done, I looked at her and said, “That is an amazing. Why is NONE of it on your website?”

A professional writer doesn’t hype you up. They reflect your light.

To Feed Sales with Confidence

You want your website to be a killer marketing piece.

Is it?

I talk to a lot of business owners who aren’t excited to direct leads to their website, because it’s out of date or was never up to their standards.

Sound familiar?

What would it feel like to know that your website would work for you instead of against you?

To Get a Professional Result

Now, not to brag, but I read a lot. I read about writing. I read about copywriting.

And SEO.

And marketing.

I use all of that information, along with my experience in freelance writing, copywriting, and editing, to bring you a professional result.

That’s my job!

You’re the expert in your business, but copywriters are the experts in writing copy. Hiring a professional means you’ll get a strong scaffold of strategy to hang their beautiful words on. And strategy is all about creating a path that leads to sales.

Speaking of which…

To Support the Bottom Line

Look, we’re all in business to make money, right? I know it’s hard to say goodbye to cash dollars to get professional writing done, but good writing will support your goals. Do you want more traffic? More qualified leads?

What do you need that’ll increase the bottom line at the end of the month?

We’re talking about an investment in your business. You pay for plenty of intangibles that help your business: conferences, networking, training, sponsorships.

Put professional copywriting on your list.


What’s keeping you from paying for professional website copy? I want to hear from you!

hello@kelleygardiner.com

 


Dog with sunglasses, link to email newsletter

(Limited) Discounts for Cool People Low on Cash

Since I work for myself, I talk a lot about what I do.

Since I do my own marketing, I think a lot about who I should be talking to. And who I want to work with.

When I boil it down? I want to work with cool people who’re doing cool stuff.

And as a matter of course, I seek out businesses who have a budget for website copy.

Leggings and coffee don’t pay for themselves.

But.

Sometimes people who’re low on cash are doing cool stuff, too.

When you’re starting off in business, or when you’re in the weeds two years later, you might not have hundreds or thousands of dollars to totally overhaul your website.

And I want to help you, too.

Right now, I’m offering one strategy session slot a month for $20. They’re usually $150.

This is available to fun people who do cool stuff, but aren’t able to get the cash to  pay professional rates yet.

That doesn’t cover my expenses. It covers my need to include more people in the conversation.

I reserve the right to close this at any time, and to pick and choose who I work with. It might get booked out in advance.

We all got help along the way. I can help, too.

Email hello@kelleygardiner.com, and we’ll talk about availability.

Feel free to pass this along. Thanks pals!

Wax On, Wax Off: 8 Final Steps for Polished Website Copy

We’ve worked all the way through research and writing parts of the Website Copy That Converts checklist.

Now we edit and polish.

Today, we’ll talk about a few last steps to make sure your copy is as polished as that agate that’s been through grandma’s tumbler.

Hold on. What are those research and writing phases, Kelley? You wrote about them? Can you just, like, list all those other steps in a convenient list of links that I can peruse?

Sure! Thanks for asking.

Target Pain Points to Make the Sale
Keywords 101
Hey! Grab Attention with Headlines
Create Your Customer Avatar
Lead with Benefits
Wonderful USP: Unique Selling Proposition
Hey “You”—Focus on Customer Needs and Wants
A Clear and Easy Call to Action

Whew! I guess I’ve been busy.

(By the way, you can still grab that checklist by signing up for my email newsletter, you know? Better do it now. I’m working on something new for you.)

Here we go with fine-tuning and editing your website copy.

1) Length: 200-500 words work for most pages

SCIENCE* SAYS 200-500 words is the sweet spot for most pages. That being said, it’s more about quantity than quality, but watch out for going on too long. Cut and tighten where you can.

See a big block of text more than a few lines long? Break it up.

*A few websites that I checked seemed to agree on that.

2) Voice: Does it match your brand? Appeal one-on-one to the ideal client?

When you read back through your website copy, does it feel like you? Does it feel like your brand? Is it speaking directly to one ideal client, or trying a scattershot approach?

You can’t please anyone. Not with a chocolate cake, and not with website copy. If you’re selling chocolate cake, write to the people who really want your chocolate cake in their lives (like me). Don’t try to convince the people who really prefer lemon.

3) Scannable: Good use of headings? Does it need bullet points?

We’ve talked about this: people don’t read.

Your home page is like a resume. What do you want people to take from it if they only spend ten seconds to see if it’s interesting?

Make sure your copy and design work together to make things scannable.

4) Jargon: Edit out industry language your client may not understand.

Know your audience. Does your client know industry terms, and expect you to use them? Do they need a little education before they buy? Or can you just toss the jargon completely?

Using terms your client doesn’t understand is a big-league turnoff.

5) Appearance: Check on laptop, mobile, different browsers.

Your beautiful tagline might get cut off on some screens. When you know that, you can make a decision about whether it’s better to change the tagline, or to deal with it as it is.

Try a simulator to get an idea of how your site looks on different size monitors, tablets, and mobile devices.

6) Consistent message: Read for discrepancies.

This one can be a bit tricky, especially if it takes you weeks, months, or years (I see you out there) to update your website copy.

Is every page a part of the same story? Do you have a tagline or call to action that’s worded a little bit differently on another page? Is there a consistent message throughout?

7) Consistent formatting: Keep a special eye on headings.

Okay, this is a fiddly one, but make sure each page of your website looks like it belongs with the others. We won’t get too deep into design stuff, but keep those headings, fonts, etc., consistent.

8) Proofread: Make sure someone else proofreads your work. Always proofread last.

Yes, even if you are a professional proofreader, because proofreading yourself is extremely hard! Trust me. I am one.

Try not to fuss around with your copy AFTER the proofreading takes place, because that’s where mistakes happen most. That one last-minute tweak always gets me in trouble.

Did I tell you about that time my friend Abbi told me I had a typo in a proofreading offer in my newsletter? Murphy’s Law totally applies.

P.S.—On longform sales pages, add a P.S.

This one is mainly for fun, but… if you’re selling a high-ticket item, you’ll usually have a long sales page (more than 500 words for sure), and there’s usually a P.S. at the end.

People people read them.

WHEW. We have come to the end of the 18 Must-Haves for Website Copy That Converts checklist! Download it if you haven’t already.

Was that a bit much? You know, you can just hire someone to do all this stuff for you.

Like me. Hire me. I write and edit websites for cool people who do cool stuff.

Let’s chat. hello@kelleygardiner.com



Dog with sunglasses, link to email newsletter

A Clear and Easy Call to Action

The world is full of yelling to try to get your attention.

Buy now!
Sign up today!
Call us!

What’s your call to action?

Call to action: Make it clear and easy to do. On every page.

Sure, you could wait for your customer to do what you want them to do. But wouldn’t it be a little faster and more effective to—you know—ask them?

What do you want your prospects to DO when they end up on your website?

Make sure you have a clear call to action on every page of your website.

What is a call to action, anyway?

You have to ask your prospect to take the next step.

It doesn’t have to be BUY NOW on every page. Far from it. But, every interaction should be a positive experience that could potentially lead to a sale down the road, right?

A call to action might be:

  • Call now
  • Sign up for my email newsletter
  • Donate
  • Leave a comment
  • Learn more
  • Book
  • Buy!

Customer Journey

You’ll need to figure out your customer journey before you can really dial in the call to action.

“Oh no Kelley, that sounds like marketing gibberish to me. Do I have to pay someone $5000 to figure out what my customers do?”

Nah, far from it. Unless you want to, or if you’re a huge corporation with super complex processes like T-Mobile. (If you are, what the heck are you doing here? I like the idea of a T-Mobile exec sitting in their office reading my blog before a meeting on the 17th floor.)

Anyway, you should have an idea of who your customer is, and what they do before the step where they give you money.

  • How long have they known about you?
  • Do they tend to do a lot of research before they buy?
  • Do they subscribe to your newsletter or follow you on social media?

What should my call to action be?

It depends, of course.

  1. What kind of service or product are you selling?
  2. What page are they on?

Let’s start with home pages, because they’re the ones that often get short shrift when it comes to a call of action.

What? For a B2B (business to business) service company with a higher ticket price, your call to action on the home page will often be “learn more,” with links to a more information, like a portfolio or pricing.

Why? Because your buyer is a mid-level professional who needs to research several options. They may need to justify or explain their choice to others. They need more information about your work before they proceed with contacting you.

What? For a small online retail business, you might put your product on the home page, and let the sales be your call to action.

Why? Because getting your customers to your sales page is the hard part, and that’s already done. They’re already interested. You can put beautiful photos of your product to entice even more, and a link to your online store. Your front page can even be your online store. Make it easy!

Furthermore… For a restaurant it might be “reserve your table.” For brick-and-mortar retail, you might want to tell your new internet friends to sign up for your email newsletter for 10% off their first purchase. And on and on.

What would you like leads to do after they land on your home page?

So it can be different on different pages?

It probably should be!

After all, if someone is on your sales page, you want them to buy something.

If you’ve gotten someone to your landing page for your email newsletter signup, you sure as heck want to convert that.

If someone is on your contact page, you want them to contact you, right? Or do you want them to go straight to booking an appointment? Or read your FAQ before sending you one more lousy email?

For me, I’ll put an email newsletter signup on this blog post, because that seems to me like the best time to ask you. You’re here, you got all the way to the end of the blog post, and you’re still not tired of me, so why not take that time to beg for your email address? KINDA KIDDING! (BTW, I send a helpful email once a month, so go ahead and sign up for it. There are always cute animal photos, and I don’t give your address to anyone else, so you really can’t lose.)

Design helps

Look.

I’m not an expert when it comes to design, okay? I mean… look around.

But from what I’ve read, design makes a huge difference when it comes to your call to action.

If you’re starting off DIY, with no budget for web design, I hear you. Your first step is making your call to action very clear.

Make it easy to find. And make it easy for me, as a reader, to understand what I’m supposed to do.

Watch out for clickable buttons that don’t look like buttons, and links that don’t look like links.

Ask a friend to look at your page and tell you what they’re supposed to do at the end. It’s super important to get feedback from someone who hasn’t been staring at your website for six weeks.

On a separate note, don’t get so wrapped up in beautiful design that the call to action gets totally lost.


Any questions about your call to action? Drop a line at hello@kelleygardiner.com, or let’s hash it out in the comments!


Sign up for my newsletter to get even more tips you can apply to your business today. Click this button. The one that says “sign up now.” There’s a dog on it. Thanks!

 

Target Pain Points to Make the Sale

Hold on to your butts, because today we’re kicking off a special blog series.

Do you have your copy of 18 Must-Haves for Website Copy That Converts? You can get it for free. FREE! Just for signing up for my email newsletter. Go ahead.  Sign up now. My newsletters are fun, useful, and not too frequent. You’ll like them.

Now that you’ve grabbed that, this blog series will be doing a deep dive into each item on the checklist.

leaping white dog, with text overlay

 


We start with research. All the data you ferret out now will go directly into writing your killer web and sales copy.

Identify Customer Needs and Pains. Target Pain Points to Make a Sale.

We’ve reached the first stop on our website copy checklist train.

Needs are pretty simple. That’s stuff that your ideal customer needs to have. Or thinks they need.

Got it.

Pains are a little more complex. You can think of them as a problem that that your product can solve.

So, what does that look like applied?

For the sake of this blog post, let’s say you’re a cat photographer. You specialize in boudoir cat photography. JUST KIDDING. You’re a cat portrait photographer.

How do you find out what your clients want and need, and how do you communicate your ability to solve their problems?

How do you suss out their pain points, and then communicate how you’ll make all those pains fade away?

Instead of telling them what you do, tell them how you can enrich their lives.

Instead of being too to the point:

Cat and dog, with title "Photos of your cat"

You can sell by getting to the pain point:

Let’s get into the nitty gritty.

Step One: Research, baby.

You could guess what your client base’s problems are. That would be a lot less work, but it’s not going to be as effective.

Talk (and listen) to your clients.

Talk to them. Easy as pie, right? All you need is a little time.

What do you mean you don’t have any time? I know. It’ll be worth it.

Talking, and listening, should be at the core of your business communications.

That looks like sitting down for coffee and having a long conversation with a past client.  “Social listening” on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Gritting your teeth and reading Yelp reviews.

Ask your Facebook fans questions, and pay attention to the answers.

Create a survey.

Surveys can be incredibly powerful… if you can get anyone to respond.

Make your survey short and easy to complete, and give your customers a reason to spend the time. A chance to win a $20 gift card is not worth 20 minutes of my time, people. Five minutes for a chance win a $100 gift card? Now we’re talking.

If you’ve never written a survey before, start simple. Nedra at Blue Deer Forest has some good advice. I’d also recommend giving a test survey to a few friends or a beta group in your network. Sometimes you don’t realize how your questions will be interpreted until the answers start coming back.

The wonderful thing about creating polls and surveys is that you can mirror the responses right back to your client base. We’ll talk about that a bit more below.

More research

Almost there! Just need to gather a little more intel.

Chat with your front line customer service staff.

If you have them, they’re a great resource for what your clients are wanting or not wanting.

Chat with other people in your network.

People who do exactly the same thing as you—your competition.

People in the same niche or industry—your network.

People who might hire other people with your skills—your potential clientele.

Go to a few networking events and get down on some shop talk.

Pay attention to complaints.

A handful of people are in a bad mood, like to complain about everything, and will not be happy until they get your product or service at 80% off.

However. Real talk, here.

If you hear the same complaint over and over, the common thread is you. Set aside your ego and figure out a solution.

(Often, if the common complaint is price, the solution is targeting your ideal client who will pay your prices. NOT lowering them. You’re worth it, you capable unicorn of professionalism.)

Ask the question at least three times.

What do my customers need?

  • They need photos of their cats. Why?
  • They want to have photos to remember how cute they are. Why?
  • Because animals are only in our lives for a short time, and they’re dearly loved. Why?
  • Because they love us unconditionally and add peace and joy to our lives.

See what happens when you dig a little deeper? Use that language in your copy. Instead of: “Obtain a professional photograph of your cat,” you might say, “Your cat adds peace and joy to your life. Capture your love today!


Whew! You’ve talked to your customers, completed a survey, and talked to your front line staff and other key players in your network. Now you have the information about what your customer wants, and why. Maybe you even know some of the reasons that keep them from buying.

You have so much info, friend. And information is power.

Now comes the next step: distilling that information into compelling copy that gets your customers to buy what you’re selling.

Stretching kitten

Step two: Rethink your products and positioning

Eep! This seems like a step back. I know. But if you learn in your market research that what you’re offering isn’t exactly what people want to buy… well, isn’t it good to learn that sooner than later?

Maybe you thought people wanted formal portraits, but they really want candids. Start playing up the candids! You can still do the posed pillow portraits for anyone who asks about it, after all. You’re just highlighting the candids now.

Don’t be afraid to tweak your packages and products from time to time. Times change. You change, your interests change, and the demographics around you change, too. Your strategy and product mix has to move with fashion, technology, and the economy.

Yes, okay, you knew that already. Or you did on some level. Now’s the time to make sure that carries over to your website copy.

Got it?

Good. Let’s move on.

Cat reflected in glass

Step Three: Start Writing or Rewriting

All that work and we haven’t even deleted one word yet. That’s okay. No one said this would be easy.

Hiring someone to do it for you is much easier. Did I mention that? Wink.

Start a list of words and phrases to use.

Pull out words and phrases—the ones your customers have already given you in conversation, on Facebook, and in surveys—to use in your marketing and website copy.

Maybe a cat photographer wants to use word and phrases like:

  • Those delectable toe beans
  • Memories
  • Forever
  • Better holiday card than your ex-boyfriend
  • Love
  • Instagram famous

Keep a file of those words, and don’t worry about them too much on your first draft. Sprinkle them in on the rewrite.

Surprised cat with "record scratch" text overlay

“HOLD UP, Kelley. You want me to do TWO DRAFTS? This is like high school all over again! And not the good part!”

I know. This is why I started a writing business. So I can have fun doing it, and you can take pictures of cats.

Yes, you have to do several drafts, or hire someone to do it for you.

Remind your customer of the pain point.

And, of course, we’re keeping in mind those “pain points.” The problems you’re trying to solve.

You’ve seen a million ads that play this up.

SCRUBBING THE SHOWER… AGAIN?

Why, yes, I am tired of scrubbing my tub, and I hardly ever even do it! If only some product could help me out with that…

Tell them how you’ll relieve this particular pain.

Be clear about how your services scratch that particular itch. Do you have happy clients who cried when they saw their cat photos? Say so!

Do you have testimonials? Bring ’em on, and don’t save them for the testimonial page. (We’ll talk about this one in a later post for sure.)

You hear people say, “Show, don’t tell,” and that’s partially true. Proposed solutions to a client’s pain point should be super clear after a quick glance at your page. But once you have them hooked, try telling a story.

What’s more compelling:

“Hire me, because I have 53 years of experience.”

“Over 53 years of cat photography, it’s hard to choose a favorite client, but one memorable kitty was Chester the polydactyl lynx.”

Solve the client’s problem.

If clients keep telling you, “My kittens are growing so fast,” you say, “Your kittens are growing up fast. Get your portraits taken now, and preserve those memories forever!” “Our photographers know how to capture those quick kitten pounces.”

If they tell you, “My iPhone camera is actually great, but the background is always messy,” you say, “Your cat will lounge in luxury as she enjoys fresh tuna and a whisker stylist in our exclusive locations.”

Fluffy kitty


Need help with this? Let’s talk! I can walk you through some simple steps, or refer you to someone who does more in-depth marketing.

Craft your message today. 

 


Like this post? Check out the next installment of the series.

What the Heck Is Copywriting, Anyway?

There’s kind of a funny problem with copywriters.

Our job is to make communications as clear as possible, but it’s not clear to everyone what we actually do.

“I’m a copywriter.”

“So, you… create copyrights?”

Hmm, no, I’m not a copyright lawyer. Let’s try again.

“I’m a writer.”

“Oh, have you written anything I’ve read? I’ve always wanted to write a novel.”

“I write website copy for small businesses.”

“…Well, I’m sure you could write a novel if you wanted to.”

Besides, business owners outside industries like publishing and marketing rarely even use the term “copy.”  No wonder people get confused.

Resting spaniel head

Okay, so what the heck IS copy?

Writing! The word part!

“Copy” is used across different industries in different ways—a book publisher, a newspaper reporter, an advertising executive might be talking about slightly different aspects of the written word when they use the term.

However.

For small business owners, these distinctions aren’t so important. Think of it as the messaging that will help you move product or fill your dance card.

The words in your Facebook ads.

The words on your website.

Your tagline.

All the written words you put out into the world to persuade people to exchange their hard-earned money for your goods and/or services.

Great.

Copywriters have the magic combination of experience and know-how to make those words on the actual (virtual) page.

 

Content & Copy

I use the phrase “Content and Copy” because it’s both broad and narrow enough to talk about what I do: I write and edit for small businesses for the internet. Right now, I’m focused on website rewrites and revamps. Hey, you should hire me to do that!

Your blog posts? That’s usually considered content. You might hire a copywriter to write that, or get a content marketer on board. Or do it yourself. But then you actually have to do it. (If you have a blog, that is. It’s not required.)

Content & copy go hand in hand. They don’t need to be written by the same person, but they should be informed by the same marketing plan.

What’s content marketing, then?

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”—Content Marketing Institute

In plain speak:

That’s a plan to create content (blog posts, social media, email newsletters, etc.) that drives customers to you, and keeps them engaged. All in a strategic way that ends with you diving into a pool of money, Uncle Scrooge-style.

Copy might be somewhat static—you can keep your website “About” page the same for years with no detriment to your sales—but fresh content like your blog posts and social media should also be a part of your marketing plan.


What the heck do copywriters do once you hire them, anyway?

We don’t just write.

Well, okay, if you want to split hairs, we write. We make words appear on the page. That’s what’s hard for most people, and it’s what we wake up wanting to do.

But we can’t pull it all out of thin air, friends! Usually, copywriting involves information-gathering, a little journalism, a good dash of marketing, and a large glug of interviewing, messaging, and massaging. After you sign a contract with your writer, they’ll want to download your brain once or twice. It’s likely that they’ll want to talk to other stakeholders as well, like your customers, constituents, or team members.

Two brown dogs and quote "Teamwork makes the dream work"

On a personal note, I’m always happy to talk to you about referrals if I don’t do what you need. I have a little cabal of writers, marketers, proofreaders, and designers at the ready for any kind of project.

Break it break it down

Writing marketing copy for the web means:

  • Keeping up with online marketing and content marketing strategies
  • Nurturing a productive relationship with the client with stellar communication
  • Brainstorming ideas
  • Writing and editing copy that helps the business reach its goals
  • Delivering clean (proofread) copy

It sometimes means:

  • Testing headlines
  • A/B testing for newsletters and other sales copy
  • Writing longform sales pages
  • SEO writing
  • Placing copy on the website itself

It does not mean:

  • Coming up with all the ideas
  • Steamrolling business owners into a direction they’re not comfortable with
  • Playing fast and loose with deadlines because of “creativity”

For a better idea of the full range of what copywriters do, grab my free checklist: 18 Must-Haves for Website Copy That Converts.

More Questions?

Now, to answer a couple of questions I got from my Facebook page:

“What is copywriting, and how does it apply to being an entrepreneur and in biz?”

See above.

If it’s good, you will sell more. If it’s bad, you’ll lose customers. That sounds scary, but it’s something you can control.

There’s anecdotal evidence of a change of copy increasing sales 19.5x. Not percent. Almost 20 TIMES. That’s an extreme case, but 19.5% actually sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

“What is an expected range of costs I would expect to pay for copywriting? Say for a website?”

Depending on who you’re working with, a writer might charge by the hour, the word, or by the project. By FAR, the most common way to charge is by project. It’s the best deal for the writer and for you as the business owner—with no surprises when the bill comes.

As a general rule, most writers charge $150 and up per page. That’s one web page, in the 300-800 word range.

Some charge thousands of dollars for sales pages. If they’ve gotten to that point, it’s because they have a history of being worth it. Or they’re just cocky, so do your due diligence, please.

If someone is quoting you $20 an hour, run! (I don’t know anyone who can freelance on $20 an hour, which is probably like getting paid $5 an hour by an employer, but that’s a different blog post.)


Do you have any other questions about copy or content writing? Toss ’em in the comments, or drop a line!

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