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The Write Question is a weekly video podcast all about writing. Today’s question focuses on whether you need to be a good copywriter. If you have a question you’d like me to answer you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet me @pubcoach, or leave a message for me at the Skype account, The Write Question.
Welcome to The Write Question, I’m Daphne Gray-Grant and my topic today is copywriting.
I have a question from Lynne Bryant from Los Gatos, California. Here’s what’s she’s asked.
“I have a question about copywriting. I’m creating some content and a website for myself and all the research I read, and other people I talk to, tell me I need excellent copy writing and maybe even I should hire a copywriter. I think of copywriting as sales, on paper, but I’m wondering in your experience as a professional writer — and working with other writers — how do you define ‘copywriting’ and do you have any guidelines or tips on good copywriting without being too salesy.”
Thanks for your video, Lynne. You’ve asked such an interesting question; let me try to answer it by way of analogy.
If you asked me what a doctor did, I’d say that their job was to help people stay healthy and to give knowledegable support to those who were sick. That’s true. But it doesn’t get into the finer points of what they do. Nor does it recognize that there are some very specialized doctor jobs: for example, cardiologists, who deal with hearts, or oncologists who deal with cancer, or psychiatrists who deal with mental health.
Similarly, copywriters are writers who produce marketing materials like websites, emails, brochures, catalogs, and letters. Some specialize in only one of those categories while others are more multifaceted. But be aware that there’s no mandatory accreditation process — like there is for doctors — so you often won’t know the person you’re dealing with is even qualified. Worse, you’ll have an even smaller idea about whether they’ll be any good.
All that aside, I’m guessing the real question you’re asking is whether YOU should hire a copywriter for your website or whether you can do the job yourself.
Here’s what I can tell you. A copywriter is going to charge a minimum of $50 an hour and anyone who has a track record is going to charge more than that. Perhaps a LOT more if they’re really experienced — in the $200 to $500 dollars per hour range, although they’ll more likely quote you a flat rate so the hourly cost is hidden.
I know that starting a website can be expensive so instead of spending your money on copy writing, I’d suggest spending it on SEO also known as Search Engine Optimization. That’s a job requiring someone with a great deal of technical expertise. And if you find a good SEO person, their work will pay off in spades for you. Below, I’m including a link to an Entreneur blogpost giving advice on how to hire such a consultant.
Good SEO will mean that people who search for your subject area in Google will be taken to your website. Good SEO will lead to your site having more visitors each month. Good SEO will lead to increased sales.
Good copywriting might help your website, but I’m guessing you can do a pretty decent job of that yourself. But you can’t teach yourself SEO unless you have a natural bent for dealing with computers and unless you have plenty of time.
I give you this advice while being mindful that you don’t want your website to be too sales-y. My inclinations run that way too. This is another good reason to do your own copywriting. If you do, you’ll have 100% control over how sales-y — or non-sales-y — your site sounds.
I think when something important is at stake, we’re wise to look to hiring experts. But in the case of your new website, make sure you focus on the right kind of expert. To me, that’s not a copywriter. Instead, it’s an SEO person.
Finally, let me wrap up with a quote from Adam Audette, the Head of Global SEO at the performance marketing agency Merkle: “Today it’s not about ‘get the traffic’ — it’s about ‘get the targeted and relevant traffic.’ ”
Thanks for the question, Lynne. If you want to get targeted and relevant traffic for your new website, I think your best bet is to get the help of an SEO expert and do the copywriting yourself.