Why hire a freelance copywriter?
A good freelance copywriter can, without doubt, be very helpful to your business or brand. However, not all freelance copywriters are good copywriters, and not all good freelance copywriters will achieve what you want them to achieve. And achieving what you want to achieve will probably take time.
Confused? Don’t worry. In this post we’ll take a look at what you can expect from a freelance copywriter, and identify some of the pitfalls you’ll do well to avoid.
What does a freelance copywriter do?
We write stuff. Obviously. All sorts of stuff. I write web content, social media content, advertising copy, marketing copy, whitepapers (also white papers, depending on your preference), blog posts, thought leadership articles, how-to guides, press releases (yes, people still use press releases), email copy, sales brochure copy, you name it. I am a veritable smorgasbord of potential content.
Incidentally, please do not confuse a copywriter with a creative writer; we are not the same thing at all. Totally different skill sets. I am an excellent copywriter but would probably make a terrible novelist (although I have worked very successfully with multiple authors to make their books better, but that’s another post).
Copywriters generally deal with the objective and tangible, rather than the imagination. We don’t always write to sell items, but in general we are concerned with the here and now: innovations in the market, new applications for evolving technologies, threats and opportunities.
And that is why the most important quality in a copywriter is not necessarily their ability with words (which should be a given), but rather their ability to grasp the wider context.
When I undertake any copywriting project, much of my time is spent on research. That’s partly because I write about technology, industry and generally complex topics, but I suspect it’s a good rule of thumb for any decent freelance writer. We need to know what we’re writing about, what our client’s competitors are doing and saying, what the client’s established tone of voice and brand values are, where the opportunity gaps are in terms of copy and SEO.
But most of all, we need to know what we’re writing about.
For example, I often need to find a new angle on a hot topic that is already being discussed from many perspectives, and I can’t do that until I have considered those perspectives and know enough to formulate something original. This is something I am personally committed to: I write intelligent copy about interesting matters for intelligent and interesting clients. That’s my niche. It’s probably also why I have not been asked to write about fluffy cushions or lipstick since 2014.
Of couse, I do craft well-written copy that meets the client’s needs and those of their audiences (deliberate plural there). I do have superb punctuation and grammar and I do know when it’s more expedient to break the rules than follow them. And yes, I can drop in keywords and structure headers with SEO in mind, all without the reader noticing.
But I’m a writer and that’s what writers do. Anyone who cannot do those things has no business setting up as a freelance copywriter in the first place. What elevates those of us who are good freelance copywriters is our ability to deploy that skill effectively.
For me, a good copywriter is distinguished by their ability to do the groundwork, recognise the need for research and do it properly. Know what’s already out there, understand the issues, look for the opportunities. The ability to tailor tone, use appropriate vocabulary and write persuasive/impressive/accessible copy should be a given.
But how does this affect you as a potential buyer of freelance copywriting services?
Well, if you are looking for a freelance copywriter to write about anything remotely complicated or intricate, you need somebody literate and articulate (not all copywriters are). Most of all, you need someone with great research skills and a solid understanding of your audiences.
If you are looking for a fast turnover of not-very-complex copy to fill your website with keywords, you may be better off going to a copy mill or one of the ‘freelance platforms’ (I think that’s the appropriate term) and saving some £££. Alternatively, you could try an AI writing solution. If the video below is anything to go by, that could be interesting …
What are the benefits of hiring a freelance copywriter?
There are many benefits to hiring a freelance copywriter. For example;
- You will save lots of time and effort which might be better used elsewhere in your business.
- You can cultivate a brand and/or organisational voice that is consistent and attractive.
- You can be articulate and communicate effectively, even if words are not your thing.
- You can generate leads and sales.
- You can raise your profile online and engage with wider audiences and more stakeholders.
- You can maintain the SEO value of your website by constantly refreshing it with lively, intelligent and search-engine optimised content.
However, it is vital to note that most of these benefits take time to accrue. If a copywriter tells you that they can use SEO to propel you to the top of Google’s front page within a week, run away (and then run a bit further, just to be safe). You can, of course, refresh and optimise your entire website in one fell swoop, but generally the search engines reward consistency and consistent quality.
And if that’s not a good argument for working long-term with an excellent copywriter, I don’t know what is.copy, copywriting, freelance copywriter, web content