Last time, we reviewed what exactly a copywriter is, and what he or she does. This week, we’ll cover whether or not you can act as your own copywriter.
You’re literate, right? Why shouldn’t you write your own blog and website content? Well, that depends. The last time you wrote something – were you partying like it was 1999? Was it actually 1999? Do you have a flair for writing and can you tell the difference between horrible line-the-catbox drivel and quality, motivating, engaging content?
Your website copy, online profiles and blogs are the start to your digital footprint. This means that all the documentation out there that mentions you, your brand or your products will be viewed by potential customers (Google yourself and your company if you don’t know what’s already out there.) It’s your first impression and, therefore, critical.
So, the first question you need to ask yourself is: Can you write well?
Reason #1: Writing Quality
Take a look at the difference in these two LinkedIn profiles for sales trainers:
Aleck helps companies and salespeople find and retain better customers. He is also a senior partner in GRB Sales Leadership which provides sales strategy programs for Fortune 500 companies.
He is recognized as one of the “Top 50 Most Influential Sales and Marketing Leaders” by Forbes Magazine. He travels globally nearly 200 days each year, working with companies to help them grow their top-line sales and bottom-line profits.
He is known for his sales growth strategies and consultative selling approach to business. Aleck is frequently quoted in the media and is a keynote speaker at major conferences on the subject of sales and sales leadership. His sales techniques are in use today by salespeople on 5 continents and in more than 100 different countries.
Be sure to read Aleck’s latest best-selling book High-Profits/Low Stress – Win the Sale Without Compromising on Balance. In the book, Aleck shares proven strategies to maximize price and minimize distraction. The book contains a step-by-step process on how to increase your prices while not giving up the rest of your life.
A few of Aleck’s clients include BP, Pepsi Cola, American Express, Fisher Price, Microsoft, and Oracle. To view a larger list visit (his website) and read more about Aleck’s proven sales strategies.
Aleck sounds like a well recognized expert, right? He’s a speaker and a trainer, but he’s not a writer (hint: copywriters also help ghost-write books, including his.) What if he had written the description himself? Here’s the first draft he wanted to put up:
Hi, I’m Aleck. I’ve always loved selling and I’ve made a career of it. I’m high energy and a have a successful background in sales. I have a proven history as being an organizational sales leader. Here are my specialties:
I travel extensively to share my expertise with the world, and was recently recognized as an influential sales leader. I also wrote a book which you can find on Amazon. I can help your sales team achieve more. Call me!
OK, which Aleck are you investigating further – the first or the second? Aleck #2 recognized that his strong suit is selling, not writing, so he hired a copywriter to compose a better bio, and thus published Aleck #1. (Smart Aleck.) He has an impressive list of accomplishments, but in order to highlight them without sounding like an arrogant jerk, he needed a writer. His grammar was not ideal, he didn’t address a particular audience, and he didn’t connect with anybody, move anybody, or provide a link for additional information. He didn’t use keywords generously either, so it’s unlikely that someone searching for “sales trainer” within LinkedIn would even land on Aleck’s #2’s page.
Reason #2: Turning a Boring Product into Interesting Writing
Copywriters can turn anything into something compelling. Do you sell basement waterproofing? How about toilet brushes or hemorrhoid cream? Conference calling services? Are you really prepared to attempt to make these products meaningful? There is only so much rambling you can do about the features of your product. No one wants to read that, anyway.
Take Coca Cola, for example, one of the most well recognized brands in the world. Coke’s marketing platform is focused on happiness. They’ve basically cornered the market on celebrations and good vibes. Their published content says nothing about ingredients, fizziness or the color of their cola. Because no one cares, and they know it. They prefer to publish engaging, motivating content that their audience wants to consume. Coke connects to their audience by revolving their content around subjects other than their product. Are you prepared to do that for your product? A copywriter is.
Reason #3: Let’s Be Honest, You Simply Don’t Have the Bandwidth
Writing takes time. Not just to write, but to generate ideas for what you want to write. And to edit what you’ve already written. And then to edit it again. How many hours in your already overbooked week do you want to dedicate to content creation? Although it’s going to take your copywriter 2-3 hours to generate a blog post, how long is it going to take you, by comparison? A full day? Monday morning, then Wednesday night, then again on Friday? What are you having to neglect in order to get your writing in?
If you’re paying a writer $100 for a blog post, for example, yet you charge your clients $250/hour for consulting services and you dedicate even half a day to getting that blog post written, you’ve just paid yourself $1,000 for a (likely) badly written blog. No, you’re not an economist, but this is arithmetic. Don’t hire yourself to do something (likely very slowly) at which you do not excel.
Reason #4: Jargon
Are you going to FF all your tweeps this Friday? Do you have any idea what that means? People in the social media world do. But what if those are not the people you’re writing for? You are so used to your particular professional world that you use jargon in context constantly. You probably don’t even notice that you’re doing it, but your audience will. They will flee from your website if they if your content makes them feel moronic.
Often, the owner of a business is too close to the industry to have reasonable perspective on language for the outside world. It’s one thing to use jargon if you’re a custom pipe company selling to plumbers, since all the plumbers are going to understand your phrases and acronyms. But if you are a photographer selling your art and you use words like aperture and CMYK or continuous tone image, you’re going to lose your audience – fast. Along with your sales. A talented copywriter will bone up on your subject just enough to identify your niche and write for them.
Reason #5: SEO knowledge
Keywords, back links and sales funnels, oh my! Any good copywriter will have at least basic search engine optimization and Google Analytics knowledge. Search engine optimization is, for all practical purposes, the way that your business ends up on the first page of Google’s results when a potential customer is searching for information or a product in your field. Since those prime spots are intensely competitive (everybody wants to show up first in a Google search, right?) your content needs to be written with SEO in mind.
A copywriter will make use of your ideal keywords at an optimal percentage to increase the likelihood that the right people will find you. In addition, your copywriter should be able to give you the basics of your Google Analytics reports – including how many visitors are coming to your site, where those people are located, and how they’re finding you.
Convinced yet? In our next edition, we’ll cover how to find the right copywriter for you.
Submitted by Hilary