One of the problems plaguing the copywriting profession is that the world is full of people who don’t really understand what a copywriter does - including many who claim to be one. So how can you tell who’s worthy of your investment?
If you’re an in-house marketer or self-employed marketing consultant that ‘does a bit of copy’ as part of your role, you’ll already appreciate that understanding decision making processes and buyer behaviour is at the heart of all good copy.
But many marketers who need to outsource their copy, still make the mistake of hiring the cheapest freelancer available. The irony is, this is often to convey value and justify the price points of their own products/services.
Last month, I happened to see a recruitment agency advert which a contact of mine had shared on Twitter. The agency was searching for a bi-lingual freelance copywriter, in a niche luxury product sector, in London, for £12.50 per hour. I half snorted, half spat out my tea and had to double check it wasn’t 1 April. I'll be honest - it wasn't pretty.
This is what any decent copywriter will have inferred from the ad before moving swiftly on: ‘Highly skilled, specialist copywriter required for highly undervalued role.’
Being literate and articulate isn’t good enough
Many marketers also turn to content mill sites for freelancers. There’s a time and a place for everything and exceptions to the rule of course but, from my experience, these sites seem to be packed to the padding with inexperienced freelancers whose portfolios largely consist of a bit of blogging while backpacking in Bali.
Everyone seems to understand that while lots of straight-line cuts show good scissor control, it makes for a terrible haircut
They’ve returned from their gap year - enlightened of course - and have decided to take on the world! To be an entrepreneur! To give this copywriting lark a crack! Why? Because… well… because being a freelance writer must be easier than doing a proper job...
It’s only my opinion, but I think self-employment in any profession is doing a proper job and (pardon my French) is bloody difficult unless you happen to excel in every aspect of time and business management as well as your trade.
So to do this without any prior business experience, relevant formal training, or having learned your antitheses from your isocolons by working as part of an experienced team first, is a somewhat bold move. But still, I admire their enterprise. A bit.
But if you can make the argument that anyone moderately literate could be a professional copywriter, then it isn’t too much of a leap to make the argument that if you’re moderately good at using scissors, you could be a professional hairdresser.
But that doesn't seem to happen. People realise this needs training and practice.
Everyone seems to understand that while lots of straight-line cuts show good scissor control, it makes for a terrible haircut.
Far fewer understand that excellent writing can still be disastrously ineffective as copy.
Words are the tools of our trade, just as scissors are to hairdressers. It's not enough simply to possess the tools, you have to know how to wield them.
Finding the exceptional
There are some exceptional copywriters out there working both as sole traders and as limited companies. So how do you find them when you’re serious about copy and are willing to invest appropriately in a skilled and experienced professional?
Our job is to write in a way that helps you get better results from your communications
The short cut is to ask anyone calling themselves a copywriter what they do. If they give you some vague, woolly answer incorporating phrases such as ‘I’ve always liked playing with words’ or anything along the lines of ‘I help you avoid embarrassing spelling mistakes’ they’re either very early in their copywriting career or in the wrong job entirely.
The thorough way involves a bit more research. Ask for recommendations. Search LinkedIn. Visit the copywriter's own website and LinkedIn profiles. Look for reviews and testimonials that prove they’re capable, reliable and reputable. Give them a call.
We'll chat with you at ease about your challenges and objectives because we speak fluent marketing
Any copywriter truly worthy of the job title will be able to tell you that our job is to write in a way that helps you get better results from your communications.
What’s more, we’ll be able to give you specific examples of how we’ve done just that for others. We’ll talk to you about your past results and the lessons learned, business goals and ideas for split testing.
We’ll discuss different psychological approaches, timing, typefaces, print formats and digital platform choices. And we’ll chat with you at ease about your challenges and objectives because we speak fluent Marketing.
We’ll become, over time, your go-to supplier, your trusted adviser, your colleague, your friend.
We’ll give you value throughout.