DON’T write your own web copy

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“Unless you are a professional copywriter, your messages will not be in the right language and tone for the target audience”

I’ve been cold calling my local area to get some new writing work. I’m a freelance copywriter and in an attempt to develop some new business relationships over the past couple of weeks, I’ve spoken with about 30 web/creative/marketing agencies across Surrey, Berkshire and Hampshire.

I’ve managed to have a 5 minute (or so) conversation with almost all of the agencies I called; thanks to all of them for their time.  I’ve explained that I’m a freelance copywriter, looking to extend the network of agencies that I write for; do they provide a copy service/ do they use freelance copywriters? If so, I send them my portfolio along with some web links for more information.

Two or three already have in-house copywriters and couldn’t see a need to use me; that’s fair enough, not much I can do about that.

Why delay?

Half a dozen described how some of their customers have delayed their website project by weeks, insisting on producing the copy themselves but not being able to find the time to do it. Any marketers reading this won’t need reminding that delayed sign off means delayed payment.  So I’ve sent these guys some samples and info on my rates; I’m glad to say I’ve managed to pick up some new work from one of them already.

The remainder of those I originally contacted (more than 20), explained that whilst they provide campaign strategies, brand design services, web design/build services, graphic design/print or social media pages, their customers usually prefer to provide (what they call) their own text.  Aaarrrrgghhh!

Do they mean that their customer intends to produce compelling, focused messaging in the language and tone of their target audience, aimed at raising brand visibility and reach whilst appealing to audiences and compelling them to act?

Or (as is so often the case), will they just be providing some text?

I don’t know why I’m still surprised when I hear this; I’ve often been told that “No-one knows our business or our products as well as we do”, usually followed by “one of our directors is hoping to write the copy this weekend.”

Not much call for professionally written copy in these parts

A few of the creatives I spoke with told me they get little call for copy to be written professionally. Most of these advertise themselves as “a full service agency” and emphasise the clients’ needs being their priority; if this is so, why do they allow customers to jeopardise the success of a web build project, by including DIY copy?

DIY copy often devalues web or print marketing; losing sight of who to communicate with or using the same old industry jargon that fails to promote benefits.  Marketing is about getting outside, reaching targeted audiences and converting them into customers; it’s not an opportunity to prove how well a director knows his or her own products or company history.

OK, so a copywriter may not already know anything about their business or products, but:

a)      Neither did the web agency before they got involved.

b)      A professional copywriter knows how to grab audiences’ attention and generate interest – appealing to readers’ desires and compelling them to act.

I guess my message to full service agencies is this: urging your customers to invest in a copywriter for their new web or print campaigns will add value to your projects and help prevent delays to sign off. By using a freelance copywriter, you can also add margin to your bottom line.

Unbelievably, as I write this blog the phone rings and a web agency I haven’t worked with for some time, calls to tell me that a client has pondered for several weeks over the copy for her website redesign but has admitted defeat and asked for a copywriter to assist. Can I call her straight away to discuss what she needs?

Too right I can.


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