Perhaps the term Copywriter is a bit old. It seems that many people repeatedly ask me what I do. In this post, I will explain what a copywriter is and what you can expect from a good Copywriter.
Copywriters write the text for advertising, including slogans and vision statements.
You may have heard the term "content writer." Both content writers and Copywriters write for business. The skills interchange. Both focus on advertising, but a content writer may only write informative content for B-B, such as White Papers and Case Studies. Web site copy is mostly considered Content writing. Its a lead generator, without the hard sell.
Research suggests that modern audiences don't like to be "sold to."
I don't want to bore you with all the details, but it's good to know some of the differences if you are planning to hire somebody. A good link is expresswriters.com/what-is-copywriting. This site explains the differences between a content writer and a copywriter.
Content writing is about using content to attract an audience without the hard sell. In other words they give readers value for reading. This is the new approach to marketing. They use persuasive writing techniques and SEO (Search engine optimization) techniques to increase website traffic and search engine rankings.
It is intended to increase customer awareness about a product or service. Often it includes business stories. This is done to increase a company's social proof. In other words is makes the company appear successful and credible, and usually involves testimonials or case studies. This type of writing is done to target audiences and establish connections; therefore a good copywriter must know your customer needs.
Copywriting focuses on short content like brochures, sales letters, and flyers. Most business writers do both and thus they are known as commercial copywriters. They often write slogans to increase brand awareness.
Now that I told you what a copywriter is, let's talk about what makes a copywriter "good."
A good copywriter/content writer will use psychology and creative marketing to increase readership. I've told my clients that if you can't get readers...you won't get conversions. They will tell you that you need a blog.
You can hire somebody from Fiver to do it for 5 bucks *cough.* Having said that, you can find people who who are experienced to blog for a very reasonable fee. You might consider guest bloggers to add variety to your content.
They will know your audience because they have specific knowledge or will have done their research.
They will have good communication skills.
They will know how to write for the search engines.
They will have interview skills.
They will ask you a lot of questions. If they don't, you need to look somewhere else! Sorry, they may annoy you with questions, but that's the only way to get the job done and leave nothing to assumptions. Assumptions just don't work in marketing.
They will be great editors. They will do revisions, nobody gets it perfect the first time. Better yet, they will give you at least two revisions without charge.
A good copywriter knows where to present certain text so that it gets noticed before the average reader clicks off, 70% of readers click off before reading the whole page!
If they are writing for your website, they will test your headlines to see which ones work better. I do this on my own site all the time. It's the only way to find out what works.
A good copywriter will speak the language of your customers and not use too much jargon to overwhelm the audience.
A few tips to get the most out of your Copywriter
Provide old material, brochures or any kind of text. Yes, I said old. The reason for that is that it gives them someplace to start. Old websites are good too.
Offer reading material about your business including links. Provide client testimonials or have the copywriter interview somebody. Actually, this is the best way if its possible.
Make sure they understand the needs of your customers. Mass advertising doesn't work, especially if you are providing a service.
If they have creative writing skills it will make the material a better experience for your readers.
Finally, a good copywriter will portray your company's voice not that of the writer.
You will likely hear both terms, but actually they do pretty much the same thing. Content writing is a more modern term. Content is used more for writing longer copy like case studies and white papers to generate leads and show authority.
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What information is needed for a portfolio page for my website? This question has answers that vary, but there is some basic information that is needed. This post will present a few basic tips.
The first thing that might appear on your page is your picture ( a professional one). It is ok to use the first person point of view. Some people prefer the third person. Just be consistent. Show some personality, but make sure it's positive. Use the same voice you used in your About Page.
Find the best snippets of your published work or some work that you are working on. Don't put the entire document on the page. Link to websites if you are a guest blogger. In my case I link to websites I have created, or have written content for. You can also use testimonials or social media posts.
Whatever you do, don't make it up and don't use mock ups!
Give a short history and how you got started going what you are doing. State a problem, and provide insight into the problem you are trying to fix. Include your values and mission.
You don't have to include a history if it's on your About page. I have included a section on "what it's like to work with me, " because I think it's important, and I have seen it done on other sites as well. This is entirely up to you. Just remember not to repeat information from page to page because you can confuse the search engines.
You portfolio page will change with time and experience, so don't forget to update the information. Make sure there are no errors or typos. One thing you can do, is to look online to find examples of some good portfolio pages and use them to craft your own, but don't copy. Mine has been put together a few times and changed.
Your portfolio should show your best work. If you don't have any work to show yet, then try guest posting, or writing an article for social media. Don't forget there are e magazines.
If You are brave, you can write an article and post it to LinkedIn. Yes, you must be brave though. *Cough.*
Most people overlook the value of editing, do you? Here are reasons to spend more time on editing before pressing the send button.
Unless you are one of the few and fortunate that get everything right the first time you will need to spend at least %60 of your time editing. Have you ever posted something only to find a typo that your editing software didn't pick up? Embarrassing right? Nobody is perfect, but I think we can lessen these experiences by double checking our work. Usually, you need to put the piece away for a day or two and then come back to it with fresh eyes. If you don't then you will not see your errors, and somebody else will:( It's a given!)
A few simple suggestions to help:
1) Don't edit as you write, you will stall those creative juices from flowing, and you will lose your concentration. So write as much as you can with a free mind, before stopping to edit.
2) Does the piece stick to one main message. If not get rid of the text that doesn't.
3) Is the title a good fit for your piece, or could it be improved.
4) Use strong verbs and avoid passive language.
5) Does everything make sense?
6) Does each paragraph flow together nicely?
7) Check your word choices.
8) Is it too long or too short?
9) Read out loud.
10) Avoid the passive voice, unless it's called for specifically.
Yes, you can learn from other writers mistakes too.
Eleanor Roosevelt wrote: "Learn from the mistakes of others, you can't live long enough to make them all your self."
If you don't sharpen your editing skills you will lose your credibility and even your reputation as a writer, so it is very important to learn how to edit your own work, unless you have the means to hire an editor. There are no software programs advanced enough yet, to do the job. It's better to rely on your own skills, it will make you a better writer in the long run.
Keep checklists by your computer to help remind you of the steps to take. I am working on developing my own. I keep adding to it. Check back soon and I will have one available for you to download.
I have found that if I free write, put it away for a brief period, the editing process is so much easier. In the meantime you can start writing an another piece so there is little disruption in your work day. Good writing without errors will set you apart from others, if you take the time to do it right. Don't let anybody tell you that you shouldn't have to rewrite your work!
Happy Writing :)
Starting a Copywriting business is both daunting, and exciting. This post presents 7 basic tips that will make your life a lot easier.
Do keep a list of the things you need to do each month, and have a plan.
1) Create a "terms of service" document, then mail it to new clients before beginning your work. Here you can outline their expectations as well as yours.
2) Create a nice business card and brochure and use it for direct mailing...yes it still exists. If you target your potential clients first you will waste less time and money. To do this you have to do your research on the client; perhaps even a cold call first.
3) Create a niche and leverage your knowledge.
4) Your website is the most important thing, so make it amazing. You must keep it updated and have a blog. Mine is only once a month because I am too busy. However, I do update the site on a weekly basis.
5) Do loads of research on the types of audiences you will write for. Interviewing is a good way to start.
6) This one's important. Keep your social media platforms up to date and use them only for business. If you do that you will have more readers. Join lots of online groups, and you will get even more readers.
7) Connect with other freelance writers. Most of them will be supportive of what you're doing, don't look to family and friends because they won't understand you...trust me on this one:(
Last, but not least, is to keep learning about your topics, and join copywriting associations. This is where you often get good advice and support about common issues in the practice.
Your skills are in demand, but you need to hone these skills first. Practice with blogs and see how many follows you can get. You can also practice with social media. Don't forget to keep reading and researching what makes great copy.
Here is one path to copywriting. Most professional writers have many different paths to their first writing Gig. Here's one that worked for me. Some people are journalists, and some others have PHDs. There are some good online learning platforms called Mooks. Take advantage of these, some of these courses are even free to audit. I have recently completed some courses from Northwestern University (all on line).
Don't listen to everybody out there that says you can't do it, because you can if you put in consistent work. This isn't a "learn fast and simple rules," kind of career. You have to keep on learning, everyday.
I have benefited from almost ten years of university courses, but I also studied creative writing courses for almost one year before I started copywriting. No matter what your background is, you will have to fill in the gaps somewhere.
Learn About Marketing
The missing ingredient for me was the marketing knowledge, so I had to gain some marketing skills too. If you don't like learning, you will not like Copywriting. I found that marketing was merely a review of many of the Psychology principles I've already learned. Marketing keeps changing, but peoples' needs remain the same. But you can't write copy without understanding basic marketing principles.
Learn Good Grammar
Learning correct grammar is important. I just completed a grammar punctuation course on Udemy with Clare Lynch from Cambridge university. This is a great course even if you think you know all about grammar. linkedIn has some good courses too.
You can also read books written by some famous copywriters. One I recommend is "The Well Fed Writer, by David Bowerman. Another book you should have on your shelf is "The Advertising Solution," by Craig Simpson who is an expert in direct marketing. This book has stories by Robert Collier, John Caples, and David Ogilvy, some of the God fathers of writing.
Ever though of writing poetry? Great practice and it's fun. That was one way I started. Writing poetry tightens your prose and you will definitely benefit from this practice. I certainly did.
This is perhaps the most important thing I will write today. Some professionals will tell you that you just have to get out there and put out your writing. That's not entirely true. If you take on tasks that your aren't ready for, it will damage your reputation before you even get started.
In the first course I took, I was told to put up a website, and improve it as you go. You will build traffic while you learn more and more about the profession. You can just put up a simple blog site to start.
Sonia from Copy Blogger also recommends this to starting writers. Why? because you will start to see what works and what doesn't work. Yes, this means everybody can see your work, and your mistakes of course, so make sure to carefully edit your work before you press edit. Blogging is a great way to start. Finally, read other professionals' work and study their methods.
Stay away form sites like Fivr, they will only burn you out. Upwork.com is a good place to start if you can't find your own clients yet. They seem to have strict criteria though. Make sure you have a solid profile, and learn all their terms and conditions.
I have recently just read a quote: "Tomorrow's illiterate will not be the man who can't read; he will be the man who has not learned how to learn."
-Herbert Gerjuoy, Psychologist and Educator
Read lots of books and study the craft. Follow the people that you learn from. Join their mailing lists to obtain their free resources. Tweak your own work as you learn.
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The term social media can be misleading. We may think of teenagers talking to each other or friends texting each other while in the same room. Social media is important for businesses too. Find out why.
I know, lots of you don't like to use social media. You may even think its for teenagers. It's important to find the best social media platform that fits your business goals. If you are selling things on Amazon, Twitter or Instagram might do fine. Instagram is popular right now. Pretty much everybody is using Instagram because it's easy and you can keep the messages short. Career type content would likely fit LinkedIn better than Twitter. Make use of LinkedIn if you are a start-up business.
No matter what business you're in, creating an online presence is a must. If you present content that is useful and shareable then your online presence will grow. Consumers today want information on any device of their choice. Remember that consumers control the market today.
Much research has shown that engagement with social media drives more traffic to websites. Hopefully that will lead to more conversions. If not, you still might have people spread the word about your business or your products in other ways. Consumers want information on every device now and they want it on their own time.
It's a good idea to have a strong online profile. It's best to create the same message, profiles, and headlines for all your platforms. They shouldn't be too different from one platform to another. Join online communities, make comments and ask questions. All this helps you to build a stronger brand image. You can also show your human side and how you differ from others.
Your content should provide information and be positive. If you write interesting posts, you will drive traffic to your site. This is a great way to build engagement with readers. Don't post too much "salesy" type content or people will think you are spamming them. Many people think that longer posts won't get much traffic but evidence suggests otherwise. Longer posts are more likely to be shared if the content is useful to the reader and they end up sharing it.
Find out who the experts are in your field or niche and follow them on social media. You will learn a ton of information from them and who their mentors are. You can receive their newsletters filled with valuable tricks and tips. You don't have to be on all platforms but pick a couple and stick to regular posts. Many readers like to read and share stories on social.
Network and engage followers and you will be rewarded. Social media followings are important to your brand. Many of the people you follow will add to your own expertise because they often publish free content.
Content writing and general writing tips are shared in this blog. Please feel free to share your own experiences in the comments section.