Copywriting for Small Businesses – What to know before hiring a copywriter
By Ella Wilson
Small business owners have always been my favorite people to do copywriting for. They’re always so excited about what they do, which gets ME excited about what they do, and that makes my job easier. Plus it’s great knowing my job helps real people send their kids to college and make their families proud.
And it’s a bit of a sigh of relief when I get to work with my clients too, because I know they’re in good hands with me. I’ve seen too many small businesses fall victim to “crappywriters” who promise a lot of talent and skill … and then deliver copy that’s “B- in high school English” at best. I rage against half-baked amateurs that call themselves writers when that happens.
In an effort to help you choose a GOOD copywriter for your small business, here are 5 things to keep in mind when you’re looking for someone to write copy for your website, email marketing campaigns, ads, etc.
Realize how important your copy is
Your messaging is everything to potential clients that haven’t actually worked with you yet. Once they get to know you and use your product, they won’t care that your website reads like the Wall Street Journal or a string of late-night tweets. But until they do business with you, the copy on your website speaks FOR YOU. Don’t trust it to some amateur who will do it for $10/hour. You’re not saving yourself anything … other than the stress of having more business. Bad copy will cost you business, I guarantee that.
Look for a copywriter … not a writer
If I had a dollar for every time I had to explain to a business owner that writing for the web is NOT AT ALL like writing for your college English class, I could quit this job and retire to an island somewhere. Academic writing, technical writing, even fiction writing is not designed to persuade – and that’s the main goal in your marketing materials. Do not let anyone without proven experience in marketing copywriting go anywhere near your website. The tricks to get people to convert are so subtle, someone who has never done it or been trained to do it WILL NOT be able to pull it off correctly.
Look at their portfolio, not their prices
It’s something we say around the office and it’s true – “People don’t care how affordable it is if it doesn’t work. And they don’t care how much it costs if it does.”
When it comes to your finished product – which you’re probably going to use for years and years – you want something that’s going to not only get you more business, but that you’ll be proud for your customers to see. Therefore, look at your potential copywriters’ portfolios before you ever ask about price.
I know, I know, you’re a small business and you’re on a budget. But don’t skimp here. Having the right motivating, memorable, persuasive copy on your marketing materials is worth every bit of what you’ll spend on it. Who knows – you may get lucky and find a great copywriter that works for less than you’d expect. But in writing as in plastic surgery – you get what you pay for.
What to look for in their portfolio
You’ve probably reviewed 1,000 resumes in your career, but not a single copywriting portfolio. So here are a few things to look for when you’re evaluating potential copywriters’ work.
- Have they ever worked in your industry before? (helpful, but not critical.)
- How do you feel reading their copy? How long does it take before you get bored? Are you intrigued all the way to the bottom? Did you laugh? Does it make you FEEL? You ARE the average reader. Trust your gut. If you don’t feel anything from their copy, neither will your readers.
- Are they writing in a marketing style? People have notoriously short attention spans, especially on the Web. You want to look for copy that’s much shorter than what you’d see in a magazine, with more personality than you’d see in a newspaper. Are they able to convey information in a way that’s concise but still well explained? Do they use five words when they could use two?
Don’t disregard real marketing firms because you think they’ll be too expensive
A real marketing or copywriting agency is probably going to charge more than a freelancer. But, with an agency, you get a lot of perks you won’t get with a solo writer.
For example, you’ll get the full backing of an entire team that offers more skills and talent than a single writer. Plus, you have someone to escalate problems to (missed deadlines and incorrect copy) if there’s an issue. Marketing agencies take their reputations very seriously – after all, they often get referrals from their clients. They’ll move heaven and Earth to please you, they know their stuff, and they can afford to hire real pros because they’ve got the money to do it. Ask me how I know. :)
If you’re tired of worrying about where you’ll find a good copywriter, call us
I’d love to write the copy for your small business and show you how stress-free it can be to work with a team of marketing pros. Get started now with a free 1-hour consult with one of our marketing gurus by giving us a call at 877-236-9094 or filling out the form on our homepage at www.GetUWired.com.