What’s a Freelance Copywriter and Why Do I Need One?

TyperI’m a freelance copywriter in Sydney, Australia. When I tell new acquaintances what I do they usually ask “What’s that?”

I’ve also found many business owners don’t know what a freelance copywriter is or does.

A lot of people think it’s to do with copyright law. It’s not.

“Copy” refers to the text of a brochure, advertisement, website or other marketing material or promotion. Thus a copywriter is a person who writes copy. In a nutshell, a copywriter is a salesperson in print.

A freelance copywriter works for themselves rather than an agency or in-house with a company.

And why would you need a freelance copywriter?

There are four basic reasons why companies hire freelance copywriters:

1. They don’t have an ad agency or staff copywriter

Most companies in Sydney (or elsewhere in Australia) don’t produce enough marketing materials to justify the cost of a staff copywriter or ad agency retainer. So when they need the occasional brochure, sales letter, ad or website content, they call in a freelance copywriter.

2. They don’t know how to do it themselves

Smart marketers let professionals produce their marketing materials, because even a hint of amateurism can lose sales.

3. They don’t have time

Even when a marketing manager does have the skill and experience to write their company’s marketing materials they usually have a dozen other more important things they should be doing. So they hire a freelance copywriter who can devote a week of his time to handling the project.

4. A freelancer can do it cheaper

Let’s say a company needs to freshen up the content on their website. Most PR and ad agencies are reluctant to take on small, one-off projects. And if they do, they often charge exorbitant fees. The company can hire a freelancer to write the content for their website without having to pay all the agency overheads.

To summarise: companies hire freelance copywriters to do it better, faster or cheaper.

Your Website is a Work in Progress

progressA friend of mine had a job selling ad space for a local newspaper. He once sold a tiny ad to a delicatessen owner in a suburban shopping mall. The deli man put on extra staff the day the ad came out to cope with all the extra customers… who never showed.

It may have been because the ad was a dud. But it’s more likely that one tiny ad simply isn’t enough to build sales.

The deli man didn’t know what all successful marketers know. As Jay Conrad Levinson so clearly explained in Guerrilla Marketing, “marketing is a process and not an event”.

Many business owners I talk have an “event” mindset when it comes to the web. They believe a website is a marketing silver bullet. They think all they have to do is get the site on the Web and the phone will start ringing and the orders pouring in. Unfortunately that rarely happens.

Getting the site built is just the beginning. You need to generate targeted traffic by search engine optimisation and/or marketing and offline promotion, you need to ensure you provide the right information to convert that traffic, you need to ensure you have sufficient functionality to satisfy customer needs, and you need to track performance and ROI.

Some prospects aren’t ready to buy right now or need warming up before they’ll convert. So you may need some stay-in-touch marketing, such as e-newsletters, email mini-courses, and downloadable reports or white papers. And you’ll need to update the content from time to time to keep the site looking fresh.

Your website is not an event. Think of it as a work in progress. Consider how your website can benefit your organisation over the long run. Make a wish list of the things you’d have on your ideal website. You may not have the resources or budget to do them all now, but you can build your site up over time.

Review your site’s content regularly. Ask for customer input and feedback on your site. What do people like/dislike? What would they like to see on your website? Fine tune your site to incorporate the best features of competitors’ sites and other sites you like.

If you do this your site will be more successful than the vast majority of business sites on the web. Slowly but surely you’ll transform your do-nothing site into a revenue generating asset.

What’s a Freelance Copywriter and Why Do I Need One?

copywriterI’m a freelance copywriter in Sydney, Australia. When I tell new acquaintances what I do they usually ask “What’s that?”

I’ve also found many business owners don’t know what a freelance copywriter is or does.

A lot of people think it’s to do with copyright law. It’s not.

“Copy” refers to the text of a brochure, advertisement, website or other marketing material or promotion. Thus a copywriter is a person who writes copy. In a nutshell, a copywriter is a salesperson in print.

A freelance copywriter works for themselves rather than an agency or in-house with a company.

And why would you need a freelance copywriter?

There are four basic reasons why companies hire freelance copywriters:

1. They don’t have an ad agency or staff copywriter

Most companies in Sydney (or elsewhere in Australia) don’t produce enough marketing materials to justify the cost of a staff copywriter or ad agency retainer. So when they need the occasional brochure, sales letter, ad or website content, they call in a freelance copywriter.

2. They don’t know how to do it themselves

Smart marketers let professionals produce their marketing materials, because even a hint of amateurism can lose sales.

3. They don’t have time

Even when a marketing manager does have the skill and experience to write their company’s marketing materials they usually have a dozen other more important things they should be doing. So they hire a freelance copywriter who can devote a week of his time to handling the project.

4. A freelancer can do it cheaper

Let’s say a company needs to freshen up the content on their website. Most PR and ad agencies are reluctant to take on small, one-off projects. And if they do, they often charge exorbitant fees. The company can hire a freelancer to write the content for their website without having to pay all the agency overheads.

To summarise: companies hire freelance copywriters to do it better, faster or cheaper.

The Brave New World of Social SEO Copywriting

Keyword cramming is old hat, and keyword density freaks are a dying breed. The fact is, techniques like keyword density just don’t work anymore.

As Laura Crest points out in her recent post at Success Works, “Social media is hands down the best content promotion tool out there.”

So how do we take a step back and learn to write “socially”? Find out here: Wake up, you’re in the social SEO copywriting business!

Website Copywriting Tip: It’s All About “You”

youRecently a client questioned the liberal use of the word “you” in the home page I had written for them.

A central tenet of a successful business website is that it is about and for your customers.

Too many businesses use their websites to talk about themselves: We’ve been in business since… We offer innovative business solutions… We have the biggest range of… We offer superior customer service…

These messages do not work. The hard truth is customers are not interested in you. They’re only interested in themselves and their problems.

You can make an immediate connection with your customers and prospects if you communicate that you understand their problems and can help solve them.

Compelling (and valuable) website content is customer-focused. Rather than speaking the language of “we” you need to speak the language of “you”.

You’re trying to build a relationship with another person – to build enough rapport to get them to take the action you want.

They’re more likely to respond if your website is written as a personal communication, instead of a corporate brochure, and orientated to their needs, wants and problems.

Also, the web is a personal marketing channel. Which is another reason why you should write your content in the first person, as if you’re communicating one-to-one.

Finally, using “you” a lot helps improve readability:

“…the word that is most important… is ‘You’. This was discovered by an American researcher called Rudolf Flesch, working 50 or 60 years ago on what makes writing easy to read.

He learned that if you wish people to read what you write, then the words ‘you’, ‘your’ and variations like ‘yours’ and ‘yourself’ should appear twice and preferably three times as often as words like me’, ‘I’, ‘our’, ‘we’ and the like.”

How to Write Sales Letters that Sell, Drayton Bird