Hiring a copywriter— what you need to know
There are many great reasons for hiring a specialist and outsourcing project work, particularly when it comes to copywriting. Here's the first few (stay tuned as they get updated):
1. It is a specialised skill
A copywriter is a specialist and copywriting isn’t journalism. It’s not an unbiased piece of content that provides you with direct news. It’s a marketing tool to help you widen your customers and sell the services and products that you bring to the world.
Sure, a lot of people may be able to write. They can even sound incredibly professional or quirky. But copywriting is a very specific skill in that it combines high level professional writing to speak directly to your target audience, for the medium intended.
Copywriting is a persuasive art, often disguised as being so subtle that readers don’t even know they are being sold to! This takes the mind of a magician.
Good copywriters know to how capture exactly what you want (or should be) saying and how to position your business almost instantly (well, okay… maybe after you have filled out the brief). This is one of their honed skills in their magic bag of tricks.
2. It saves you time
The time it takes for your staff members to write something, say a blog post or a media release or even to rewrite a whole new website, is time taken away from their core duties.
It can take around five hours to write one blog post, longer if your staff are not experienced. That’s essentially a day’s work on a blog post. Can any of your team afford to lose a day with their current work load?
Most people are already stretched thin in their job as it is, if you throw an extra task or project into the mix, something (either the employee’s wellbeing and/or other facets of their job responsibilities) will be negatively impacted.
Being overworked and over extended is an epidemic in this day and age. In fact, it can lead to costly mistakes at work and serious health issues. Nearly thirty per cent of workers feel that they are overworked.
‘Poor work–life outcomes are associated with poorer health, more use of prescription medications, more stress and more dissatisfaction with close personal relationships.’
You can start to alleviate some of this strain simply by outsourcing your copywriting and improving your bottom line. You may even find your employees’ performance improve.
‘In the 19th century, when organized [sic] labor first compelled factory owners to limit workdays to 10 (and then eight) hours, management was surprised to discover that output actually increased – and that expensive mistakes and accidents decreased.
3. It will be well written
Since '45% of marketers say blogging is the #1 most important piece of their content strategy,' (source) it's crucial that your blogging content well exceeds mediocre.
Not only will a professional copywriter make sure the copy is expertly written to sound intriguing enough to keep reading, whilst pushing a soft sell or direct sales techniques, but will incorporate fundamental writing practices.
‘A word after a word after a word is power,’ Margaret Atwood.
4. It will master your tone of voice
The art of copywriting comprises of absolutely “nailing” the voice of a company. Voice is a powerful way to give your brand a personality and once your brand is personalised, people will automatically and subconsciously connect to it. Words are often the first step or level of establishing a relationship with someone or something. And as your sales team will tell you, selling is all about relationships!
'47% of buyers viewed three to five pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep,' (Demand Gen Report, 2016).
5. It will improve your SEO
Sterling copywriting will ensure you are super discoverable online by enhancing your copy with SEO best practices. SEO specialist copywriters will conscientiously keep abreast of Google’s ever changing algorithms and know how to write well and optimise your content.
Good grammar, clear formatting and the way the writing is structured (as well as internal and external links) will all enhance your SEO.
6. It will help with your content strategy
You know that you should be blog posting regularly to improve your SEO but you have no idea what to write about and what would make great content that will increase your search results. A decent SEO copywriter will be able to guide you in your content plan by suggesting blog topics and content ideas in alignment with your keyword research and marketing plan. Some may even have the skills necessary to do the SEO research necessary.
'Websites with a blog have tend to have 434% more indexed pages,' (source).
They’ll also guide you in the right direction in terms of which assets work for which purpose. Not sure whether you need a flyer or some email marketing? A copywriter will help you determine which medium will suit your purpose and audience.
7. It will save you money
‘I have been working on this for weeks but I just can’t get it to sound right,’ is one of the most frequent comments I get when new clients hire me. And just like above where I have outlined how hiring a writer can save you copious amounts of time, saving time always equals saving money.
Having a copywriter on staff can be costly process, especially if you only need them for project work.
8. It will give you a whole lot more than you expect
This may not be the case with every copywriter but often they can have a generous skillset. For example, I have been a publicist, project coordinator and marketing manager so I can bring a lot more than “just” words to the table. I know how the media thinks and responds, so I can write really effective media releases and I have a deep understanding of concepts like sales funnel, lead gen and customer journey map, when clients throw those terms my way.
Additionally, I am a trained yoga teacher, have studied creative writing, psychology and philosophy at university and professional writing psychology at TAFE. Besides meaning that I’m an education junkie, this suggests that I am fascinated by the human mind and have a profound understanding of how people work, making it easier to communicate directly with them. I appreciate the personal and emotional facets of where people want their money to go, even at a corporate and government level.
I’ve also written a marketing book, a novel, a book of short stories and a book of poetry (and another two books on the way) and everything I learn in the process of writing those mammoth projects are brought into my client work.
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You may be quick to disregard LinkedIn, especially if you don’t work in the corporate world or aren’t job seeking. But the professional business networking site, which has been around for fifteen years (yes, longer than Facebook!), has over 500 million users 4.2 monthly users in Australia alone—and shouldn’t be underestimated as a great marketing tool. In fact, Huffington Post suggests it may be the Most Powerful Marketing Tool of the 21st Century.
LinkedIn is important for a number of reasons. Not only is it an online resume, Facebook-adjacent, forum and a recruitment database all rolled into one but your peers, clients and coworkers can endorse your skills and write recommendations for you. And we know how great social proof is for your personal and professional branding.
'46% of online adults who have graduated from college are LinkedIn users, compared with just 9% of online adults with a high school diploma or less,' (Pew Research Center, 2015).
It’s also an easy way to let people know about your industry/work experience, knowledge and expertise. Rather than having to send people your complete resume, you can just share the URL to your LinkedIn profile with them this makes it much easier for sharing in other areas too, such as in your email signature, business card, other social media platforms, marketing collateral and so on.
Why is LinkedIn important for you?
How to maximise your profile:
‘You’re seven times more likely to have your profile viewed if you have [a headshot]. Like a house that’s on sale, the assumption is that if there’s no photo, something’s wrong.”
How to write a great Linkedin profile summary
How many times should you post on LinkedIn?
Studies suggest once per day is best, with ultimate posting time between 10am and 11am. Social media app, Buffer, suggests once per day at 8:14am and not on weekends. Experts say that posting less than twice a week is not advisable.
‘The goal is to be consistently visible and valuable. It’s not about selling. You need to educate and provide useful information.’
What to avoid:
Remember: it’s a professional networking site not a social networking site such as Facebook, so keep it completely professional.
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'Australia’s housing prices rose as much as 10.7 per cent over 2016 and are predicted to hike up an average of five per cent over 2017. Despite that, many homeowning retirees are still...'
Read more of my article on WYZA.
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I’m about to start blogging. What should I do?
Firstly, set goals. Your blog goals can be centred around number of views, posts, comments as well as growth in writing quality and experience. In addition to your goals it pays to be very clear why you are writing. The “why” will keep you motivated even when it seems like no one is reading your great work. Check out Simon Sinek’s Start with Why to discover your “why” factor.
Secondly, create a list of content/post ideas that you can tackle further down the track. Much like you might plan out writing a book, list the topics that you wish to cover. Write some content before you “go live” so you avoid the awkwardness of luring in readers with your first post but leaving them hanging with nowhere to go.
Here are eight blogging tips to get you started.
I’m not a great writer but can I blog anyway?
Technically, yes you can – anyone can and there are a plenty of horrendous writers with famous blogs. But if you’re intending to create a text heavy blog (as opposed to images or a vlog) I would cock an eyebrow and ask why you aren’t interested in being a great writer first and foremost? Your SEO will be disadvantaged with poor writing and your audience will give up on you if they don’t understand your message or you’re not doing the topic any justice.
Read: grammar for blogging.
I’ve been blogging for a few months, what should I do now?
Refer back to your goals. Are you on track? Do any of your goals need to be revised or shifted?
Conduct a thorough self review of the following areas:
Which is more important – writing or promoting your writing?
It’s certainly a delicate balance between the actual writing and promoting yourself. Unfortunately, (or fortunately) this is the double edged sword of being a writer these days. If you are interested in pursuing professional writing as a career, I would recommend that this is part of your learning experience. In short: do both if you can! But not at the sacrifice of your writing.
The best thing you can do is keep blogging – consistently and frequently. It’s something that will build over time, not an overnight thing.
How can I promote my blog on Twitter?
Although Twitter may not be the most effective tool for brands, it still hosts a lot of readers and writers. To really reel in the reader, you have to craft really short (less than 140 characters) lead lines that make people want to click on your link. This can be tricky but fun. Take a look at Why your business writing is probably crap.
If you want to tweet an annotated screenshot, read this article from the New York Times.
Make sure you know where your readership are. If you’re writing about building muscle and weight lifting, your audience are likely to be in topic specific Facebook groups or online forums. If you’re trying to connect to a more corporate audience, then Linkedin is your way forward. Find your target demographic here.
And importantly, don't forget to set up an email list and campaign to help promote your blog posts.
No one is reading my blog posts. Is blogging really worth it?
It depends on your goals and desired outcomes but almost invariably the answer is yes! Keep writing! Keep blogging and experimenting with promotion until you find the thing that work for you. Blogging, like any writing or micro business is a long term investment, so consistency and dedication are the key attributes that you can apply.
Here are some useful articles on building an audience:
Do I need to include pictures on my blog?
Yes! It helps with SEO and attracts eyes when promoting via your social media platforms.
Blog Tyrant sums it up really well below:
‘At a minimum, you want to be part of a quality stock photo site that allows you to use photos on your site with an attribution license. I use Dreamstime for any stock photos but an even better option is to take your own photos, make your own images, or have a professional do it – that really sets you apart from the rest.
Visual content has been growing for years and it appears to be speeding up, not slowing down. We now have retina display tablets and our smartphones are getting bigger. Social networking sites like Facebook and Google+ are favoring images and videos over text – never mind sites like Pinterest which are totally based around photos!’
Remember that using your own content and royalty free stock images prevent any copyright issues. Don’t pull a Marie Claire and share an image with proper attribution or permission!
Need more help? Check out How to start a blog here.
If you have a question not answered here, please feel free to pop it in the comments section below or leave a link to your blog so we can have a read!
If you want anyone to find you through an organic search on the web and want optimal reach, it’s not enough to have a great website; you need to employ SEO tactics even if you only start with the basics.
Incorporating effective SEO techniques is a precarious balance between pleasing the robots and pleasing the people. I’ve always thought our modern world would come to this!
Following on from my post How to top Google’s search results here are some additional tips to that you can easily implement over a weekend to vastly improve how people find your site.
'Successful SEO is not about tricking Google. It’s about partnering with Google to provide the best search results for Google’s users,' Phil Frost, Main Street ROI.
According to Raven Tools, 78% of all SEO issues are related to images.
Include images where possible. An image or two per blog post and page is not only visually appealing but will help the bots that crawl your site and see how user friendly your site is.
Ensure all images are labelled/named clearly and relevant to your text and insert a suitable keyword or phrase into “alt text” section. Keep images at a reasonable size so it doesn’t hamper website loading time.
Google has even told us that it factors in site loading speed into how your site ranks.
‘You may have heard that here at Google, we’re obsessed with speed in our products and on the web. As part of that effort, today we’re including a new signal in our search ranking algorithms: site speed.’
Keep the image size between 100kb and 400kb and your site needs to load within one to two seconds or you have potentially lost most of your site visitors. Sorry to be the one to tell you that. Check your site load speed here.
As you can see from this image, I’ve got a bucket load of work to do to get mine up to scratch. Another item for my “to do” list.
Write terrific content
Make sure it is written well (as if you were a journalist or professional writer). That means that sentences should be cohesive and not "waffley". Standard writing best practices apply throughout your whole website, from blog posts to static web copy to behind the scenes in your meta data description. Maybe now you finally have a legitimate excuse to sign up for those writing classes you always wanted to take?
Spelling and grammar should be faultless. Believe it or not, Google now judges you based on your grammar and spelling (Hallelujah, the writers cry). This pleases me as we’re seeing a lot more credible and well written content on the web, rather than just anyone with a blog and some time on their hands.
Ensure your meta descriptions are up to date, well written and contain your keyword/s. Each web page values from having its own meta data descriptions written well, not forgetting they have to be interesting enough for someone to want to click through to your website, when they read the short blurb on Google. Put simply, these descriptions will need a sales flair that entices people to click, without sacrificing good writing and sentence structure.
SEO leaders, Moz, provide a clear definition of what meta descriptions are:
'Meta descriptions are HTML attributes that provide concise summaries of webpages. They commonly appear underneath the blue clickable links in a search engine results page (SERP).'
Write compelling and keyword rich meta data descriptions. Make sure the meta data description reads really well and has a sales flair that entices people to click, without sacrificing good writing and sentence structure.
And of course, we’ve discussed that it’s imperative to keep your content fresh. You need to be posting new content super regularly (ideally, more than once a week) to appease the spiders.
Stay tuned as this post will be updated regularly with more helpful SEO information.
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A copywriter is a professional writer that will write your marketing material (whether that be for your website, blog posts, brochures, social media marketing, enewsletters, media releases, adverts and a whole range of things). A copywriter is an expert in writing and will pen persuasive words in a way that is potent for your marketing plan.
Why hire a copywriter?
I’m going to be straight up here: almost everybody thinks they can write. This isn’t the truth. Let’s get real about this so you don’t do your business a disservice. An exceptional copywriter can position your business, services and products as memorable and leading the way, outshining your competitors and as something that people just MUST HAVE. With the art of the persuasive word, professionally written copy can increase sales.
The beauty of a copywriter is that they are able to step back from you and see the best in what you offer and know how to tell the world about it. Often, you can be too close to your own offerings to effectively describe what you do.
Copywriters are more than just writers. I come from a marketing background, so I know how to effectively promote something – whether it’s yoga classes, property or balsa wood – directly to your potential or existing customers, influence their decisions. I also have a genuine understanding of SEO, making you more easily discoverable online.
An awesome copywriter can make anything – and everything – sound thrilling.
Perhaps best of all, in my view, a copywriter will write with great grammar and spelling, giving you more credibility and readability. If the first contact new customers have with you is a poorly written website or Facebook page, how can they expect you to be professional when delivering your services? Go on – choose three websites at random and you will easily be able to tell which has been professionally written and which has been written in haste by the business owner.
Although this may not be the case for all copywriters (and is certainly not a requirement), I am also an award winning creative writer (having written many short stories, poems and a novel), so the art of storytelling is in my veins. And as customers become more and more saturated by content these days, they are craving authenticity and genuine storytelling. See also: how to keep your content crispy.
Most of what we are commissioned to write is written to sell. We believe in and live the “art of the sell” using only so much as our words.
When I write an advertisement, I don’t want you to tell me that you find it “creative”. I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product,’ David Ogilvy.
This may vary mildly depending on what you want written but the most likely process will go like this:
Then you can relax as I squirrel away for a time and work on the copy to the deadline we’ve agreed upon. This is the “go time” for me and where I spend hours researching, taking notes, writing and rewriting, proofreading and editing and maybe, just maybe, watching Netflix (some of my best ideas have come from television shows!)
You’ll be emailed the work (usually in a Word document) to review. I offer a revision with all quotes but I rarely, if ever, have to do it but I want you to know that the option is there because there’s no point with you being unhappy with the copy.
Then you can do whatever you need to do with the writing – upload it to your website, email merger, letterhead, social media platforms. It's then time to enjoy the benefits of meticulously crafted copy.
Now be honest, that was a lot less painful than you thought, right? Certainly a lot less painful than agonising for weeks or months over writing your homepage or blog posts. There we have it – the mysteries of working with a copywriter solved! If you have any more questions, drop a comment below or send me an email.
‘Let us prove to the world that good taste, good art, and good writing can be good selling,’ William Bernbach.
BONUS: learn to write terrific headlines that will make people click
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Writing effective headlines
You can write the most epic blog content that could set off a bunch of life changing insights for your readership but without a tantalising headline, few people will bother to click through and read it.
Ensure you have a compelling heading for each blog post. Make sure it’s a bit of a tease and that people will want to click on it and read more. Include why someone absolutely must read this post; explain why it will change their life/business/mind etc. The headline must be about the reader and how it can benefit them. For example, How garlic will make you lose weight.
‘With [blog post] titles, it's best to under promise and over deliver. So if you're choosing between uber-compelling and accurate, choose accuracy every time,’ Corey Eridon, Hubspot Marketing Blog.
Here are some things to add that will create punch for an effective headline:
An effective headline should make a reader curious and want more. Here are some types of headlines that have proven themselves to work time and time again:
'Most people will share content based on the headline alone.'
How many words should your headline be?
There's been many different discoveries when it comes to the ultimate headline length for maximum readers. The platform you are sharing on does make a difference but to summarise, Outbrain has found that seven words is an ideal length.
Coschedule similarly suggests that 60-100 characters is ideal.
Do you want to know whether your headline hits the mark? This is my favourite tool when deciding between headlines to use. Try this headline analyser.
Here's how I decided on the headline for this post:
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Non fiction book writing
You’re ready to write a non fiction book but you’re hesitant to start for any number of reasons; perhaps you are swimming in self doubt, overwhelmed or just not sure where to you start. You’ve identified a non fiction topic to write about and you may have even picked a title and can picture the cover in your mind’s eye. You just haven’t written a single word of the draft manuscript. That is okay! You’re actually probably way more ahead than you realise.
I wrote both my books,Promote Your Spiritual Business and Thirty Days to Conscious Success in less than a year each because I genuinely enjoyed the process and was very committed to getting it done. And even though I write for a living, I STILL understand the pain of starting some written work – at times, it can be ghastly!
But an idea is just an idea, it’s not a book! Until it’s written, it’s just thoughts. So you actually need to start. Every single successful project in the history of time was started at some point.
If you’re having trouble starting, pick one of the following action steps today:
Do some research
Set a timer for thirty minutes and do some serious, hard core internet research on your predetermined topic. Cut and paste as many relevant sections, paragraphs, links, stats and quotes as appeals to you and put in a Word document. You’ll come back to this document at the right time to expand on relevant sections or use the research to back up your opinions in the book.
Unearth what you already know
Open your Word document and type the heading ‘What I know about TOPIC (this is the topic you will be writing about)’. You can also apply the same action step to keywords that will be in your book. This is your chance to write down dot points of what you already know. I guarantee that you will shock yourself with how much you know about this topic. We often don’t even know how much we know… Donald Rumsfeld proclaims that we no longer know what we know and what we don’t.
Most adults have a finite capacity of storing and collecting information, so it’s not implausible that there is at the very, very least one book’s worth of information readily available in your brain. I’m confident there is enough information there to write as many books as you can be bothered!
‘…if your brain worked like a digital video recorder in a television, 2.5 petabytes would be enough to hold three million hours of TV shows. You would have to leave the TV running continuously for more than 300 years to use up all that storage.’ Scientific American.
Set up an interview
Interview yourself! Write out a list of questions that you would ask someone else about the topic or that you want to know, then set about asking yourself. You may even like to prerecord yourself, or rope in a friend to ask you these questions. Just having a different voice can be a really effective process in unearthing your knowledge.
Get really quiet. You may already be familiar with a little thing taken the world by a peaceful storm, called mindfulness. If you’re a mindfulness junkie, there’s an opportunity to commence that right now. But if you’re unfamiliar with it, just get really quiet and really still. Distractions have no place here! It doesn’t even have to be long – five to fifteen minutes are ideal.
Empty the mind of all your thoughts and when it feels as empty as possible (this is no small feat, by the way) invite thoughts about your topic in. Keep a notepad handy nearby and jot down every single thing that comes to mind, even if it is “purple monkey dishwasher”. You will get something useful out of it – even if it is one keyword that will spur you to undertake step one, two or three.
Find your notes from a workshop you have attended in the last year or so on your chosen area (or closely linked) and gather up your notes. From these notes you will type them up (even if they have been previously typed) and highlight keywords or topics that you will expand on by doing step one or two.
Have you attended a workshop that is on a different topic? Grab your notes from that find the similarities between your topics. You may even find some beautiful metaphors or ways to cross pollinate knowledge here. Like I did with this.
Didn’t take any notes? Tsk tsk. But not all is lost! Your action step is to enrol in a couple of workshops, seminars, webinars, ecourses or similar on your topic and when you attend, take so many notes that you are left with a hand cramp at the end! Don’t aim for creativity when note taking, just get as much data down as you can. When you type them up later, you’ll be able to interpret in your own writing style, with your own take and research to make them meld seamlessly into your book. Pay particular attention to the extra resources, such as books, podcasts, links, key people that the lecturer, teacher or course provider recommends as this is where you will extend your knowledge and get those extra nuggets of information that make your book juicy with information. Once you've written it, it's time to engage a copyeditor.
There are no excuses left to not starting your non fiction book and being well on your way to a bestselling non fiction author! All you have to do is pick one of the action steps above and do it. You may like to pick an action step for each day and dedicate yourself to completing it. At the end of the week, you’ll be so energised and motivated by what you’ve achieved that it’s likely you’ll want to continue writing your non fiction book until it’s finished!
Keep getting stuck? Book writing coaching services.
Adelaide copywriting examples
Copywriting client: City SA magazine, editorial and advertorial
Take a look at more copywriting samples and client work.