Wondering if hiring a copywriter is right for your business? It’s a tough question to answer and you’ll get a different response depending on whether you ask a business owner, marketing expert, business coach or even a copywriter.
If you’re searching for a quick solution, I suggest flipping a coin.
Heads you book one. Tails you struggle on with the copy yourself.
What did it land on?
Oooh, tricky. Because you’re not convinced it’s the right thing to do, so you’re potentially disobeying the coin. If you’re not comfortable with that, stick with me.
As a straight-talking copywriter I’m going to run through not just the good reasons for hiring a professional writer — that’s predictable and would be very biased — but also the downsides to working with a copywriter. And just to make this article a neat trilogy of ideas (because the title of this post is inspired by The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, obvs) I’ll round up with some of the weird shit you’re likely to encounter when working with a copywriter, too.
By the end you’ll know whether ignoring the coin’s decision is right for your business.
Good reasons for hiring a copywriter
We love writing to persuade
I was going to say, ‘we love writing’, which many of us do but that feels too broad. Copywriting is a particular style of writing. It’s writing to persuade. Whether it’s website copy, emails, press releases or blogs, we do it because we’re writing to make an impact on the reader and affect their actions or feelings towards something or someone. Doing this successfully involves elements of psychology, analytics and being fascinated by people. All these moving pieces makes crafting copy a technical (and enjoyable) process. It’s a chance to talk to people and work out how they tick, which is interesting and just one reason why I love being a copywriter.
We’re outside your organisation
You’re emotionally attached to your business. I’ll guess there are days you adore your company. And there are weeks when you want nothing more than to burn the lot, cry, and polish off a bottle of wine. (Been there.) When emotions flail all over the place it’s hard to take an objective view. Hiring a copywriter who is independent of your company means bringing in a fresh pair of eyes. They may spot things you can’t see in your messaging and marketing because you’re too close to it.
We free up your time
At the centre of your business is the thing you’re an expert at. Whether that’s brewing beer, optimising websites, stopping cybercrime, fixing teeth, organising weddings or performing on webcam — you have the skills and knowledge that keeps your business running. Wrestling with copy eats into that time, which eats into your business’ productivity and earnings. Hiring a copywriter gives you that time back so you can do more of the business stuff you enjoy.
Curiosity is a copywriter’s best feature. You can count on us to keep asking ‘why?’. It may drive you a little mad, but it may also help you uncover opportunities for your business that you’re yet to discover.
The bad parts of working with a copywriter
You have to brief us
Urgh, I know I said a good reason to hire us is because we free up your time, but here’s the deal. You can only have that time after you’ve let us get to know you and given us a strong copywriting brief. If that’s OK, we’ll be golden. If you can’t brief us because:
- you don’t understand your target market,
- you haven’t worked out your processes,
- you don’t know your pricing,
- you don’t know what makes you different to your competitors
Then it’s too soon for us to be getting together. Take a step back and look up a branding or business coach to help you iron these out first.
We have an answer for everything
Good copywriters consider every word and point that makes it onto the page. The structure of a paragraph or positioning of a quote isn’t random. It’s strategic. You can rely on us to explain our logic for each copy decision. It doesn’t mean our choices are always right, but there is always method to the copy, and we can justify it. So, if you want changes — and feedback is always encouraged — you need to let us know why you want those changes. Expect push back if your comment is, “I don’t like it” or “make it snappier.” Try to give us something more constructive that helps us understand what it is you’re not liking.
We are perfectionists
Copywriters want your copy to work hard. When it gets results, you’re happy and that helps us feel good and strokes our writer egos. Feeling this pressure sometimes means we fall into a tweak-hole. This is where we keep editing, rewriting and tweaking because it has to be perfect. There may be times when you have to wrestle our fingers off the keyboard and convince us it’s time to let go of the copy.
I have a whole post dedicated to the fact copywriters are weird. But once you’ve hired a freelance copywriter and started working with us, there could be odd things you notice about when and how we work. Really, just roll with it and humour us. A couple of examples…
We laugh at our own puns
There is a time and a place for puns in copy, but those times and places are very rare. Most copy works best if it isn’t full of puns. This is why we need to let these puns out in our emails to you or during otherwise serious meetings. The nervous energy then demands we laugh at our funny and applaud ourselves.
We can’t control when inspiration strikes
This is true for many creatives, not just copywriters, so if you hear us say, “This idea came to me when cleaning my teeth,” or “As I was polishing my Russian doll collection the other day I realised that…” don’t dwell too much on what we were doing at the time. Same goes if you see that we’ve emailed you at midnight or 6am with an idea we have to share immediately.
We need an outlet for crap ideas
The first draft you see probably isn’t the true first draft. For us, it may not even be the third or fifth draft. This is because we need to get all of the really, really crappy, predictable, daft ideas out of our system before we dare show you anything. I even have one copywriter friend who begins each project by opening a document and word vomiting all of the ridiculous ideas that spring to mind when given a brief. They’re the ideas he wouldn’t dare put in front of his bosses. Only once have I shown a client my crap ideas sheet. Never again.
Should you listen to the coin’s decision and hire a copywriter?
There are good reasons for hiring a copywriter, there are downsides to working with us and there’s weird stuff we do when creating the marketing copy you need.
In my experience, the most effective projects are these where my client knows what they do, who they do it for and how they do it. If you’re at that point, then you’re in a strong position to collaborate with a copywriter.