In case you're wondering ...
If you’re thinking of hiring a copywriter, for whatever reason, you probably have a myriad of questions.
How can you improve my website? What experience do you have? How much will it cost me? How soon can you start? How long will it take? etc, etc.
Here are the most frequently asked questions I have encountered as a copywriter.
If you can’t find the answer to your question here, then please don’t hesitate to contact me, and I will respond as soon as possible, usually on the same day.
Firstly, copywriting is not to be confused with “copyrighting” – a form of legal protection, which grants a creator exclusive rights to reproduce, publish or sell their intellectual property (for example, logos, trademarks or original artwork).
Copywriting involves the creative construction and optimisation of engaging text – to explain or promote a product, service, brand or idea, or to persuade the reader to take a specific action. It is a craft which involves thorough research, natural writing talent, a skilful approach to structure, style and tone, a methodical editing process, and meticulous proofreading to ensure complete accuracy.
There is virtually no difference. It’s a matter of semantics. The term ‘content writing’ has become widespread when referring to online content, rather than copy intended for print. However, both terms effectively describe the same thing – written text which is intended for an audience.
According to the Oxford Languages dictionary, content marketing is “a type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material (such as videos, blogs, and social media posts) that does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services.”
So, copywriting is definitely an important and essential element of content marketing, but it is not the only element. Images, videos, social media content and slide presentations are also crucial ingredients to include in an effective, multi-media content marketing campaign.
Well, yes – you could indeed write it yourself. And if you have an excellent grasp of the English language, perhaps you should. But, before you begin, bear in mind that effective copywriting is a skill that might be described as both an art and a science.
It’s not just about clarity, accurate spelling, and in-depth knowledge of grammatical rules, sentence structure, and tenses. These are all very important technical factors, but they’re just one aspect of the whole picture.
Copywriting is also about being able to manipulate language and weave words into a colourful textual tapestry that compels, engages and demands attention.
And you must also be able to motivate and persuade readers to take the specific action you want and need them to take.
Highly skilled, experienced copywriters use their technical knowledge and creative judgement to crochet together all of these threads, to produce clear, original copy that is distinctive and able to convert.
So, it’s like any profession. You could have a go at doing it yourself, but it’s never going to be as good as having a professional do it for you. It may even be counter-productive and harmful to your business.
For example, you may find that your website isn’t attracting the sort of attention you expected (i.e. either attracting no attention at all, or attracting the wrong types of attention!), or your brochures and flyers aren’t delivering any return on investment.
DIY copywriters will also need to factor in their time. Often, what many people believe will only take a few hours to write runs into days, and sometimes weeks of editing, refining and proofreading. And we all know that time costs money…
Whatever your business happens to be, it won’t survive without paying customers.
Similarly, charities and non-profit organisations don’t survive without donations and grant funding.
So, how do you attract, persuade, convince and convert the right customers, donors and investors?
You need highly targeted written copy (accompanied by powerful imagery) across all of your marketing channels – printed and online ads, website pages, landing pages, blog posts, product brochures, product packaging, press releases, social media, emails, newsletters, reports, business plans, funding applications, etc, etc.
In fact, without copy, businesses can barely communicate anything to anyone at all.
The only way to get people (other than your mum) to engage with your brand or idea, and ultimately to buy, donate or invest, is to convince them that the thing you are offering will solve their problem or somehow make their lives better.
A professional copywriter will understand how to grab attention with a captivating headline, and hold that attention all the way to a clear and powerful call to action. They will know exactly how to write copy that is crisp and easy to read, that clearly communicates a central idea, that plants the seed of desire, and that compels the reader to take action.
Quite simply, great copy is a powerful and necessary sales tool.
Are all retailers the same? Can you spot the difference between the stationery on sale at your local pound shop and similar products sold by a leading stationery brand?
Well, the same applies to copywriters.
Powerful and effective copywriting doesn’t just fall naturally from the fingertips of somebody who has never done it before. The best copywriting always has its roots in years of extensive training, hard work and experience.
Unfortunately, as in many other industries, there are plenty of sub-standard novices and inexperienced amateurs out there. The copy mills are all too happy to throw them some scraps so they can keep prices ridiculously low for clients who aren’t too fussy. However, a saying about monkeys and peanuts springs to mind here.
This is why you should always check out a prospective copywriter’s portfolio and professional history. Check they have the credentials you would expect from someone who declares they’re a professional.
There’s certainly an abundance of freelance copywriters out there in the virtual universe, but it’s essential to choose someone you feel you can trust with your reputation.
If you’re finding it difficult to decide on the right individual for your project, you should ask your shortlisted copywriters a few questions.
How many years’ experience do they have as a professional (i.e. paid) copywriter?
Do they have a portfolio available for you to view?
Do they have any knowledge or experience of your particular sector (or your local area, if applicable)?
Do they charge fair, competitive rates, and do they guarantee value-for-money?
Do they seem to understand your project, and do they appear enthusiastic about it?
How soon can they start work on your project?
Are they able to show you testimonials from previous satisfied clients?
Are they willing to provide you with a brief proposal, or a free initial consultation?
Do you find yourself warming to them instinctively, and do you sense they would be easy to work with?
I do, but I reserve this for writing on my blog and other publications I regularly contribute to. In my own personal writing, I tend to be quite conversational and observational, often with a bit of wry humour and dramatic irony thrown in to add some colour and character.
Essentially, a copywriter needs to be versatile and skilled at adapting their style and tone of voice, as appropriate for the target audience, the client’s brand, and the intended objective. I always discuss these crucial elements with clients before starting work, so that I have a crystal-clear compass to guide me in the right direction when writing.
Over the years, I have covered a wide range of topics for a diverse range of clients, sectors and audiences.
But even if I have never written about your product, service, topic or industry, it’s not a problem. I approach all projects with an objective perspective and a keen hunger for new learning opportunities. I can guarantee to quickly get up to speed, and write the copy you need.
Anybody who knows me will tell you that I am an obsessive researcher. In fact, I have often been told that I am curiouser than Alice. Admittedly, I have fallen down a few rabbit holes along the way, but over the years I’ve refined my research methods and have become skilled at quickly sorting the wheat from the chaff, so that my writing is always informed by trusted, authoritative sources.
I have spent most of my professional life working in the third sector – I’ve worked with non-profit organisations and small businesses, as a public servant, and as an independent freelancer. I have also co-founded three arts organisations – two Community Interest Companies and one community organisation – and I have run two small businesses. These experiences have provided me with an excellent understanding of how organisations and small businesses are built from the ground up, and the critical role of effective written communications.
Although I have been heavily involved with writing about music and the arts historically, I have in more recent years gained substantial knowledge from writing about marketing, SEO, manufacturing, travel, retail, weddings, lifestyle topics, freelancing, and business advice. Much of this experience was acquired whilst working on content marketing and SEO for a reputable digital marketing agency.
Ultimately, whatever your product, service, topic or sector, I can bring a fresh perspective, compelling copy, and advanced marketing skills to your project, to ensure that your central message is communicated clearly and effectively.
Anybody who guarantees to do this is lying to you. There are plenty of dishonest scammers out there who use “black hat” SEO techniques to try to cheat their way up the rankings. Happily, in recent years, search engines have become much more sophisticated at quickly identifying spammy, low quality content, and such practices are now penalised heavily.
On the other hand, naturally written SEO-optimised content that is useful, relevant and valuable for the reader can give you the best possible chance to compete for those top positions. Having studied and practiced SEO content writing techniques extensively, I am well positioned to write such copy for you.
Obviously, this will depend on the extent of your project and the volume of other work I have on, but I will always agree a timeframe and a deadline with you from the outset.
As a rough guide, I can often complete short jobs (up to 1,000 words) within 24-48 hours. However, projects involving more thorough, in-depth research might take a week or longer.