If we just write the words then surely anyone can do it?
Updated: Mar 23, 2021
Increasing prices and creating packages can be a daunting exercise as a copywriter because we can’t be totally sure someone will pay what we’re charging. Unlike with any other craft, writing is seen as something anyone can do, and after all, it is.
We’ve all been taught to write from early childhood. We learned the alphabet, learned to write our name, we learned to write our address, and then we wrote stories and answered questions on exam papers, and even for those who were literally challenged and care little for the written word, will still write all their adult lives in some form or another.
Little wonder then everyone thinks they can do it unless of course, it’s a novel or a non-fiction piece, there’s more worth seen in that, which is understandable as it’s a longer piece of work and requires more time, energy and skill to write.
Copywriting, on the other hand, isn’t quite seen in the same way by many because blogging is more prevalent than it once was and there’s been an increase in people with their own websites in the past 20 years, even if they don’t own a business. If you’ve written your own blogs and your own website then chances are that you think anyone can do it, because after all, you did it.
The day may come when you need to hire a copywriter because you take the daring step of converting your site into a business, and of course, you’re only hiring one because you simply don’t have the time to do it yourself.
Once it’s written you will personally micro-manage the entire process by going over every full stop and comma and headline in order to make sure it’s just as you’d like it. You’ll take entire pieces out and demand the copywriter rewrites them in the way you want because it’s not going to work the way they’ve done it - and you won’t charge them any extra for it.
You won’t stop to think that by changing it, something more essential to the crafting and design of the copy itself is ruined. Basically, there is a lot more to writing copy than just simply writing it, and it’s not just about the act of being able to write or being able to write creatively, these things are important, but not completely essential to writing marketing copy.
The main skill required to write copy is to make the reader take action. That action may be to subscribe to a piece of software, buy a book join an email list or buy a product or service. It’s not to wow them with your skills with words or tell them about how amazing and special you are and how hard you’ve worked. Although arguably, this may form an important part of your brand story.
Joanna Wiebe (copyhackers) coined the term “conversion copywriting” breaking it away from the more traditionally known content marketing, as its sole intention was and still is to sell and make the reader take action, although you could argue that that is what content marketing does too.
Conversion copywriting or direct response copy also describes something that copywriters have been doing for many, many years just without the name that goes with it today. All that’s changed are some of the methods and the extension of our understanding of pre-existing acronyms. There are ways to lure the reader in, tried and tested techniques. For conversions to work, there must be tweaking, testing, and working with inertia and multiple buying decisions.
There’s research into the customer, known as ‘voice of customer research,’ there’s competitor research, review mining, the testing of pages (sales pages/landing pages/home pages) knowing as A/B testing. You need to know the customer’s stage of awareness and break the pages up in order to match it and then move him/her to act. There’s the what vs how, the what you say and how you say it because it’s more than just describing the service it’s all about the method, a case of “What you say is the strategy, how you say it is the execution.” (Copyhackers).
It’s all about getting their attention, littering the page with interesting, intriguing messages, building up desire, backing it up with social proof, with measurable outcomes on the page and doing everything you can to make it easier for the potential customer to act.
Then there’s SEO, the back end and the front end, the metadata and the meta titles, the usage of the right long-tail phrases and short-word keywords and making sure you use them in the right places and not over-stuff the page until the content is confusing and unreadable. If you’re working with multiple pages, such as a new 13-page website, then that’s a hell of a lot of work right there, before you even write the words themselves.
Blogging is so much more than writing an irreverent article on contouring, or point-scoring reminiscences of your holiday in the Rhone Valley, it’s again about knowing your audience, SEO keyword research, competitor research, writing so you get seen, so you’re more visible and more hireable, or with a view to selling a new product or launching a new service. It has to be cleverly put together with expert knowledge of your business/niche/subject etc. Basically, a lot more goes on behind the scenes than you realise and although there maybe some of you out there who will still say they could do it better or even just as well, my answer to that is ‘go forth and fill your boots.’
It is entirely up to you whether or not you decide to go ahead and hire a copywriter and if you’re unsure ask them to explain their processes. If they’ve explained it clearly enough and in most cases they do, you won’t need to dig and dig and contradict and splutter out complaints, and fill your words with but, but, but, but, and looking astonished when the copywriter says “well okay then, but I’m afraid that perhaps we’re not the best fit and good luck,” and not become excited by your suggestion that they write it for a twenty quid.
There are cheaper writes elsewhere, but they may not do as much behind the scenes research etc, and if you’re okay with that then I wish you well my friend. If you’re looking for concrete results and something that little bit more special, then that is a different matter. Results are the thing you see, if you can produce results then you get to charge more as a copywriter, so it pays to train and learn the skillz, because when you’ve got concrete proof of the results you bring to clients, they will come and you will be worth what you charge. There are other factors too, experience, training, good testimonials.
I don’t have statistical results, unless you count testimonials from producing good work, that in itself is a result, although in direct response copywriting that might be considered debatable.
What I mean by results is results as a direct consequence from conversions - that is readers or prospects who go on to become paying customers, with maybe some graphs or stats to back this up, some visuals - that’s what brings the boys to the yard.
They can be phenomenally difficult to get hold of sometimes, but it isn’t always the be-all and end-all of it, because as I say testimonials can sometimes be enough, or case studies in written or video format.
If a customer says I’m really busy as a result of having worked with a copywriter, or they say they managed to reach their goals with the new service or product then that in itself is a perfectly good result and a ringing endorsement of the copywriter’s skills even if it’s not in a graph chart.
I charge for the value I can bring and because I have a lot of knowledge and experience backed up by proper continuous training and 8 years of learning on the job, free training, reading, webinars, short courses etc. I know my stuff, but there’s plenty of copywriters out there who know far more and charge more accordingly.
Copywriters will only work with those who place value on what they offer, if you don’t see it then you’re not obliged to work with them. They won’t be offended, just give a polite no. Ask them what they think they can do for your business and what it entails, get them to put it down on paper, and then either say yes or no. That’s it really. We offer a valuable service to those that need it and although everyone can write not everyone can copywrite.
This isn’t creative writing, it’s copywriting.