How to hire a copywriter

you don't have to stand on colourful plastic chairs to hire a copywriter

If you think the answer to ‘How do you hire a copywriter?’ is ‘Get them to stand on a chair’ then you definitely need a copywriter. You see you’ve confused ‘hire’ with ‘higher’. And you don’t want a daft mistake like that on your website, now do you? That’s why savvy business folk hire copywriters – to write clean, clear content that comes with all the right grammar and spelling.

Anyhoo, you need a copywriter – here’s how to go about getting one.

Explain what kind of words you want

The other day, I got a message from a potential client: ‘What are your copywriting rates? Topic: hand-sewn waistcoats for squirrels.’ I’ve made up the squirrels bit but the point is I had no idea what kind of content they wanted. Web content? A blog? A brochure? What?!

It’s like walking into a furniture shop and saying you’re looking for a bed. Er – do you want single, double, divan, underbed storage? Like the bed salesperson, I can’t direct you to a price until I have a better idea about what sort of words you want.

Give me a clue about word length

Once I know what kind of words you’re after it’s handy for me to know how many words you might need. Say it’s a blog. There’s a whole lot of difference between 400, 700 and 1,000 words – the more words, the more time I’m potentially going to need to write them. I say ‘potentially’ because, chances are, the more words I write the more research I’ll need to do first. It kind of depends on the topic.

Of course I’m not expecting you to know the exact amount of words – I’m just saying if you do have a rough idea then that’s a useful bit of info for a copywriter to have. Like for web content – you might want a few short, snappy paragraphs per page or you might need a more detailed guide to each of your services.

Why copywriters don’t charge per word – Part 1

Ha, ha – just when you thought you were getting the hang of this, here I am throwing a spanner in the works. But the fact is, a lot of copywriters – me included – don’t charge per word. And here’s why. Let’s say you want a memorable tagline for your business. You know, like Tesco’s ‘Every little helps’ or Nike’s ‘Just do it’. Not many words there, right?

But that doesn’t mean a copywriter is going to accept a fiver for their trouble. Taglines take a creative brain and copywriters are clever at coming up with words. And to be perfectly blunt – that itsy-bitsy tagline is going to be of HUGE value to your business So, no, small doesn’t mean cheap.

Why copywriters don’t charge per word – Part 2

Would you like me to knock you up 1,000 words for your website right now? No problem. Here it is – can’t be sure it makes any sense but there are definitely 1,000 words. Actually, there are 1,005 – have those five extra words on me. Keywords? Ooh, now, you didn’t mention keywords. Longtail keywords? Oh come on, you never said anything about longtail keywords. What? You were expecting an attention-grabbing headline and sub-headings, too.  

See, copywriters don’t just chuck words together. A good copywriter will craft web content that’s not just customer-focused but is packed with SEO goodness, too.

Why copywriters don’t charge per word – Part 3

I can’t speak for other copywriters but I don’t write a single word of content until I’ve got under the skin of your business. Doing extensive research and interviewing the business owner (that would be you) is a massive part of my copywriting process. Without it, how can I differentiate you from your competitors and write the words that will blow those suckers out of the water?

You’re paying me to do the biggest, bestest trumpet-blowing job you’ll ever get.

Do you have a budget in mind?

That old trick, eh? You divulge what you’re willing to pay and you’ll end up paying it whether the job costs that much or not. Er, no. It’s a simple question that will hopefully establish whether we’re on the same page or not.

Last week I was asked how much it would cost to write six web pages. I enquired about the budget. It was £200. There was no way I’d be doing it for that so I thanked them for their interest and we said goodbye. Neither of us wasted our time or energy dancing around the price.

But had their budget been closer to the reality of what I’d charge, we could have negotiated, You know, had a little chat, figured out a price that made us both smile. Sure, we might not have got there – but at least we could’ve tried.

How to get in touch with a copywriter

Personally, I’m partial to an email. It’s a good way of introducing yourself, letting me know how you heard about me and giving me some info – what you want the words for, what sort of word length you’re thinking of, when you need it and your budget. You don’t have to know ALL the answers but, hey, as Tesco says, every little helps (see, it really is a memorable tagline!)

After I’ve received your initial email, I’m happy to have a quick chat before sending you a quote. I’ll leave that up to you. Some clients like to suss me out a bit first. Others just want to get a cost at this stage. I’m fine either way. If we do decide to work together there’ll be lots of time for talking when you tell me all about your business story.

When to get in touch with a copywriter

I’m ready for you – but are you ready for me? I had a recent enquiry about web content. They couldn’t say how many service pages they wanted. The conversation was all a bit ‘I’m thinking about this…’ and ‘I might include that…’ and ‘I’m not sure how many packages there will be’ and ‘I’m wondering if…’

Basically, they were brain-dumping on me. They hadn’t got a clear idea what their business was about and what they wanted to offer.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to be flexible. I can quote for a set number of pages and we can talk about additional costs as and when you want more. But if you haven’t figured out what you’re doing with your business yet, it’s not the right time to hire a copywriter. Your website will end up as cluttered and confused as you are.

* Would you like to hire me as your copywriter? Good choice – drop me an email

PHOTO: Pixelia/Pixabay

Will the real you please stand up?

Isn’t it funny how everyone’s business and personal life has blurred? Suddenly I’m discovering a whole new side to my clients. Thanks to our Zoom calls and COVID-19 conversations I’ve seen a window into their homes, complete with baking disasters and feral kids. It’s funny – in a good way. I like it!

Don’t I feel just a little bit uncomfortable seeing clients in this new warts ’n’ all light? Absolutely not! They’ve shown themselves to be honest, open, real, genuine. Pretty solid attributes, wouldn’t you say? And if I’ve similarly exposed myself – not literally, that wouldn’t be at all funny – then I’m happy that they’ve got to see a bit more of the real me, too.

Showcase your personality

I’m all about blending professionalism with personality. I love working with people who want to stand out from the crowd. People who want to do things differently, to say things differently. People who don’t want just another homogeneous business that gets drowned in a sea of identikit competitors.

Some of my clients take a bit of persuading to show their personality. They want to cram their About page with qualifications and career stuff. What? Tell people I sing in a choir? No, no, no – that’s doesn’t make me sound professional. Really? If you have a fantastic service, are clearly brilliant at what you do (this is the bit where I do my trumpet-blowing copywriting to get your brilliance across) and have supporting testimonials – what are you worried about? You’ve proved you’re professional. And now you’re memorable, too.

‘But I’m a serious business…’

I hear you. Now hear this. We’re all serious about our own business. I know I am. I want to be the go-to trumpet-blowing copywriter in the whole of the universe (well, I’ll start with Bedfordshire). I want people to hire me to write content that grabs attention, gets them noticed and gets them sales. But at the same time I don’t want to be known as bland and boring.

Just today I received these words from a potential client:

I must say how much I enjoyed going through your website. So many copywriters have such boring websites!

That was nice, wasn’t it? That’s the sort of compliment I love because it shows they ‘get’ me. I’m not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. But that’s the point. I’ll attract the right sort of client for me – and if you show your personality that’s what you’ll do too.

‘You really don’t get it. I’m a serious business’

I get it, I get it, I get it. Really! I get it. It’s easy to be playful, quirky, humorous or off-the-wall if you happen to be a comedian or you’re in the business of selling dinosaur-shaped doughnuts. Got to be a bit more careful if you’re a stockbroker or solicitor, though, eh?

Well, yes, but even stockbrokers and solicitors have personalities.

You don’t have to go all out with get-them-laughing-in-the-aisles Carry On Up The Stock Exchange content. But you don’t have to wear your tie so tight it chokes you either. Step out of your personality-free zone and test the water. How about a quirky headline? Or a warm and inviting CTA (please, please, please don’t use a Submit button). Make your content more warm, friendly and engaging. That’s always a good start.

Human first, professional second  

Do you remember that famous YouTube clip showing a professor getting interrupted by his kids while doing a live Skype interview for the BBC? If you’ve never seen it, do watch – it’s hilarious. And, given where we all are today, very prescient. The clip went viral and the poor professor figured the media would never have him back. Well guess what? The BBC did a follow-up interview with him about the incident and he was all over Ellen and the Wall Street Journal.

How come? Because we saw his human side. Yes, he was a professor – but he was also a father. Nobody judged him for what happened. Nobody questioned his authority or his ability to do his job. Nobody thought he was unprofessional. Hell, the cool, calm, collected way he continued with the interview had ‘professional’ written all over it!

The bottom line? People related to him and people liked him. Isn’t that the warm, fuzzy feeling you want your clients to feel, too?

* Want to inject some personality into your content? I can help

PHOTO: Pixabay

Visibility, copywriting and coronavirus

Visibility, copywriting and coronavirus? Yeah – I never expected to put those words in one sentence either. But these are strange times. Right now it might feel like your business has just dropped off the map. For some, sadly, it actually probably has. So now more than ever you need to be visible and get back on the radar. Here are some copywriting tips to show you how…

Don’t write content in a panic

Easy to say, I know, but I’m increasingly seeing this happen. People are desperately trying to get their marketing messages out to stay connected with customers and clients and maybe even make some sales.

I know, I’ll create a discounted offer and promote it with a website landing page. I haven’t really thought through the offer properly, but I’ll throw some words together and put it out there anyway.

They’re frustrated when they don’t get any take-up and put it down to nobody having any budget. Sure, that might well be the reason. But it might not. Maybe the reason nobody’s buying is because they don’t understand your garbled offering.

Visibility is pointless without clarity

Well done – you’re working at staying visible. But if your marketing messages aren’t clear and focused it’s hardly surprising nobody’s hitting the ‘Buy now’ button. Those potential sales? You’re throwing them away with confusing content.

You can’t write content with a half-baked idea – so get clear in your own head exactly what you’re offering. Go through a checklist of questions – what’s included, how it will be delivered, when, how much, what’s the discount, how long is it available. Yes, I know, you’re in a hurry to get this out there – especially as everyone else is racing to do the same – but visibility really is pointless without clarity.

Write winning content

OK, you’re not a copywriter. And right now you can’t afford to hire a copywriter. And – ahem! – you really don’t want to insult a copywriter by suggesting they write your content for a tenner. So here are some basic DIY copywriting tips to be going on with:-

TIP 1 Refer to your ‘clarity’ list of questions to check your content contains all the relevant details.

TIP 2 Don’t try to be clever. Forget buzzwords and jargon – make your content easy for everyone to understand.

TIP 3 Keep it simple. If you don’t think a sentence clarifies a point – don’t write three more sentences trying to explain it. Rewrite the sentence. 

TIP 4 Don’t write too much. Write what’s important without falling into waffle territory.

TIP 5 Break up content with bullet points – it’s a short, snappy way to get info across.

TIP 6 Use x-headings – another handy way to break up chunks of text

Forget perfection

Forget perfection? As a perfectionist, that’s hard for me to write! But right now, we all have to let go a little. I’m not saying you should write sloppy content – I mean, you HAVE read this blog, haven’t you? I’m saying that for now it’s important to get some sort of marketing content out there to stay visible – and once it becomes clearer what your customers or clients need during this tricky time, you can then adapt and refine your content accordingly. The good news is that if you’ve got clear, focused content to start with, you’ll already be ahead of the game.

* If you need help writing your content, let’s have a chat

PHOTO: Public Domain Pictures/Pixabay

Curiosity killed the copywriter (well, actually, it didn’t)

Young boy looking through a monoscope

I’m happy to admit I’m a nosy blighter. As a former journalist, I wouldn’t have got very far without being inquisitive and asking questions. Lots of questions. Just when the person I was interviewing thought I’d finished with my questions, I had more. Now sometimes I had to keep asking because my interviewee was being evasive (yep, not everyone likes talking to a journalist). But mostly it was because the more I found out about someone, the more I was desperate to know. By the time I’d finished I could practically write a book on their life.

It’s pretty much the same now I’m a copywriter. When I talk to you about your business I want to know everything. Not just the basic rent-a-script info. Or the same stuff your competitors are churning out. Or your CV. I want to dip deep to find out why and how you’re unique. What sets you apart and makes you different.

And so I go into journalism mode. I start with background research to find out about you, your industry, your competitors. Then I compile a long (really long!) list of questions. By the time I get to the briefing meeting, I’m all clued-up and raring to get the answers. Sure, chatting will take a bit of time – and several cups of coffee – but it allows me to capture the kind of detail that a rushed phone call can’t. By asking all my nosy questions, I can really delve deep into your business and brand personality.

Once I’ve got the scoop on you, I put the words together to create your one-of-a-kind, haven’t-heard-this-before, knock-the-competition-for-six business story. Oh yes, your story is a great one!

And here’s a bonus. Once we’ve nailed your story, you get to tell it over and over again – on your website, sales letters, blogs, elevator pitches, Linked In, business awards applications, brochures… Come on – that’s got to be worth a couple of hours with me, hasn’t it?

Want help telling your business story? Let’s have a chat.

Photo: Joseph Rosales/Unsplash

Why one-sided flyers make me sad

Little robot made out of red cardboard holding a white broken heart

I can’t help it. Every time I see a one-sided flyer my heart hurts a little bit. I’ll spot one on my doormat, its blank page staring up at me looking lonely and pathetic. Sometimes I don’t realise it’s a one-sided flyer until I expectantly turn it over only to be greeted by a blinding white hole.

Why do one-sided flyers make me sad? Because they tell me a lot about a business. Or, rather, they don’t tell me a lot.

One of the worst flyer crimes you can commit is cramming too much information into a small space. I’m all for short, snappy content – but leaving a whole page blank just seems like a wasted opportunity to me. I mean, why not use it toinclude a testimonial or two? Or to flag up a special offer? Or to add some eye-catching visuals?

It’s like that business couldn’t be bothered. It’s like they don’t really value that little flyer as an integral part of their marketing. When I see such a half-hearted effort, I can’t help wondering what that says about their business.

And then I think I’m being harsh. Maybe one-sided flyers are way cheaper to print than double-sided ones. And who can blame small businesses for keeping an eye on their budgets. So I asked my go-to printer, Raina Joyce from Q Print, for her take on it.

‘Generally, there isn’t a big price difference between one- and two-sided flyers. Even on a print run of 5,000 A5 flyers you’d only be looking at a few pounds more. You might have to shop around, though. Some print companies might use two sides as an excuse to hike up the price, and for High Street printers that don’t have efficient print machines a two-sided flyer could cost more to produce. It’s always best to get some comparison quotes.’

So, you see, there’s really no excuse for one-sided flyers. And that makes me very happy.

Want to maximise the marketing message on your flyer? Get in touch.

PHOTO: Burak Kostak/Pexels