Hands with red nails typing on laptop

Hiring a copywriter to write copy is not the right decision for everyone

For every business owner thinking of writing their own copy, there’s a copywriter somewhere telling them not to.

Usually I would be that copywriter. Because when business owners write their own copy, they often make mistakes.

But today, I’m reflecting on something that happened to me. And how that situation might have worked out better if I’d given the client what they really needed rather than what they said they wanted.

Once upon a time, I had a client…

When it came to their copy, this client knew exactly what they wanted to say and precisely how they wanted to say it. They just hadn’t specified that they needed a mind-reader rather than a copywriter.

Cue endless changes. Hours spent on the phone, meticulously going through the copy line by line. Debating every sentence. Agonising over every word.

It was excruciating for both of us. Like pulling teeth with no anaesthetic.

After it happened, I spent a long time mentally bashing myself and wondering what I could have done differently.

But I conceded, nothing I could have done would have made any difference. Whatever I had written, it would never have matched what was in my client’s head. It would always have been a disappointment and ‘wrong’ in their eyes.

The moral of the story

If you want to keep complete control of your copy and you think you could write it yourself, asking a copywriter to write it might not be the best decision for you.

Even if you’ve chosen the copywriter yourself. Even if you like their style. Even if you think they’re the perfect match for your project — it could still be a disaster.

Because unless that copywriter comes back with exactly what you’re imagining, you’re going to be disappointed.

Some clients rewrite their copy

Not all clients go through the changes they want with their copywriter.

Some wait until after their copy is submitted, then rewrite it in their own vision. This might be less confrontational, but it’s still a waste of time and money.

If you’re a good writer and you know what you want to write, wouldn’t it make more sense to just get the support you need and do the writing yourself?

Copywriters do more than just write copy

It’s been estimated that we copywriters only spend 20% of our time writing.

So what do we do with the other 80%?

It will vary according to the type of copywriting, the project and who else is involved, but here’s an idea.

Research

A large proportion of our time is spent on research

  • Client research — talking to you and reading your brief
  • Subject research — looking at your area of work and what you do/your products
  • Customer research — to build a profile of your ideal customers
  • Voice of customer research — looking at how your customers communicate and the language they use
  • Competitor research — to see how your competitors are doing it, so we can differentiate your business
  • SEO keyword research — to help the performance of your website or blog content
  • Image research — for more creative and conceptual projects.

Planning

  • Creating content plans
  • Planning website structures
  • Structuring the copy/content
  • Planning the elements of a campaign.

Creating

  • Coming up with creative ideas
  • Developing concepts and storyboards
  • Briefing designers, illustrators, photographers and other creatives.

Finishing

  • Critiquing
  • Copy editing
  • Proofreading.

How a copywriter can help with your writing

Copywriters and content writers have a range of other skills to offer besides writing.

Here are a few of the skills we can offer and some of the help you can get from other professionals.

Writing tips and advice

You’re a competent writer, but you’re not accustomed to writing the thing you’re about to write and you want some professional advice before you start.

Most copywriters have a blog where they post tips and advice for free. I called my own blog ‘A resource for the resourceful’ because it’s full of this stuff. I have categories on writing tips, editing tips, content creation and SEO — so you can always learn a little something.

Content planning

You want to write your own blog content, but you need some help to decide what you should write about.

A content writer can help you by developing a content plan that will attract your ideal customers and give them the content they’re looking for.

The content plan could include ideas for articles, article outlines and even SEO headings and keywords if that’s what you need.

SEO editing

You’ve written your own web copy or blog content, but you don’t know how to optimise it for the search engines.

Some SEO copywriters offer SEO editing as well. They’ll research the best SEO keywords for you to use, then implant them into your copy. They can also add things like SEO page titles, meta descriptions and blog snippets.

Structuring

You’re planning to write your own copy/content, but you’re not sure what should be included, the order it should be written in, or how it should be set out.

A copywriter can help you plan out a structure for what you want to write, whether it’s an article, advert, web page, poster, flyer… or anything else you can think of.

Copy critique

A copy critique can be useful before you publish your piece. But it can also be helpful if you have a piece of published copy that hasn’t been hitting the mark*.

The critique is pretty much as it sounds, a professional analysis of your copy/content with ideas and suggestions for improvement. For example:

  • Is your headline compelling enough?
  • Have you explained the problem well enough?
  • Is your offer clear and enticing?
  • Have you outlined all the benefits?
  • Do you tend to waffle a lot?
  • Are you showing proof of what you’re saying?
  • Is the structure and flow working well?
  • Is it interesting and does it keep you reading?
  • Is the copy convincing and persuasive?
  • Have you got the tone right?
  • Have you included a call to action?

*Note: there’s a whole host of reasons why your online copy might not be performing as well as it should and they’re not all to do with the quality of the copy.

Copy editing

You’ve written your copy and you’d like a professional to give it a thorough check.

Most copywriters provide copy editing services. Copy editing usually starts with proofreading the copy for spelling, punctuation, grammar, vocabulary, formatting and other mistakes. Then it goes deeper.

A copy editor will look at the copy objectively to make sure:

  • The messages are clear, with no ambiguity
  • It reads well and makes good sense
  • There’s no waffle or wordiness
  • It’s consistent in tone, style and content
  • The information and sources are correct
  • There are no dubious claims
  • It’s structured properly and flows well.

Proofreading

Your copy is almost ready to publish, but you’d like someone to give it a final check for:

  • Spelling
  • Punctuation
  • Grammar
  • Vocabulary
  • Layout, formatting and style
  • Consistency.

Some copywriters offer proofreading services. Or you can get your work read by a professional proofreader, which can be a better option. Proofreaders are often more technical in the way they look at the copy, which means they can spot mistakes more easily.

Don’t be tempted to trust the spelling and grammar check on your computer — they often get things wrong!

Need some help to write your own copy?

Maybe I can offer some assistance.

I’m Jenny, a highly skilled SEO copywriter with more than 20 years’ professional writing experience.

If you’re thinking of writing your own copy or content and you’d like some help, I can offer a range of supporting services that will help make your writing the best it can be.

And if I can’t help you myself, I may be able to recommend someone who can.

To find out more, visit my website or get in touch and tell me what you need.