“Your job is not to write copy. Your job is to know your visitors, customers and prospects so well, you understand the situation they’re in right now, where they’d like to be, and exactly how your solution can and will get them to their ideal self.” – Joanna Wiebe
If you’re a startup – being able to produce amazing content is a huge batting advantage.
With a few well-written sentences, you establish who you are, what you offer and who needs it.
You let the world know there’s a fearless trailblazer on it’s way.
But maybe you’re still molding your startup’s voice and message. Maybe defining your brand through your copy still takes a lot of time and headspace. Resources you might not have because you’re insanely busy starting this new venture.
You need a good copywriter on your side.
What can a copywriter do?
“People do not buy goods & services. They buy relations, stories & magic” – Seth Godin
It’s not just about checking your work for mistakes. A good copywriter can offer valuable content of almost any type. In addition to generating blogs and newsletters for customers or clients, these include:
1. Web copy
No matter how slick your web design, one too many typos can compromise hours of professional work. The last thing you want is a website full of grammatical mistakes, awkward language, or sloppy typos.
Coming up with slogans for your business that don’t feel outdated or cheesy is no mean feat. A great copywriter is excellent at spinning ideas, getting at the meat of an idea. They can create a concise tagline to tell your investors, and customers, who you are, and what you can do for them.
3. Pitch decks
When you’re pitching to big-time investors who can help you get your startup off the ground, you want something sleek, short, and to the point. You need them to get excited about working with you.
Money talks don’t exactly leap off the page, but a good copywriter can write you an engaging pitch. A pitch that hits on all your main points, and shows you and your business in the best possible light.
4. Company profiles
These days, everyone is voting with their wallet. You want a company profile that reflects your values and history, and a tone that matches your industry.
Making clear what you stand for improves your ability to target your branding to your ideal customers. A skilled wordsmith can write their way through the balance of the professional and personal.
5. Marketing collateral
An expert writer is flexible in content types, while at the same time help you keep a consistent tone. They maintain your brand voice in everything from promotional materials to blog posts, newsletters, to the About page on your website.
6. Product lines
“Every product has a unique personality and it is your job to find it.” – Joe Sugarman
Perhaps you are releasing a new product line to industry trades, or you’re providing product descriptions on your website. Either way, you want each product to be presented in the best way possible.
More than that, you need a description or a narrative that converts. Your writer should be able to sell the features of anything. If required, they should make the most boring product sound like the must-have of the Century.
If you’re in E-Commerce, a writer can optimize any copy to entice search engines for picking it up in search results. It will save you tons of money in advertising, as you will rank organically for buyer-intent keywords.
Capable copywriters can take the same information to a variety of audiences, and ensure that your product information is succinct and understandable.
7. Elevator pitches
Sometimes, you’ve only got a few lines to say what you need to say (or 60 seconds!). If you’re struggling with keeping your pitch ideas concise, a copywriter can help you trim the fat. They can give clients, or investors, whatever they need to know, in a hurry.
8. Video scripts
You may have an excellent idea for a promotional or instructional video. But do you know how to format a script for actors correctly? Can you make quick changes on the fly when it turns out you can’t shoot everything you were hoping for?
A writer with knowledge of scripting can ensure you get everything you want in the script. They can make quick changes when it turns out things aren’t working.
9. Applications for industry awards
Application forms and other paperwork can feel like a full-time job by themselves sometimes. The last thing you want, especially when you’re applying for an award, or a grant, is to make mistakes!
Take the stress off your hands, and give it to a copywriter instead.
Copywriters are detail-oriented, and they will research the rewards you’re applying for. They will thoroughly go over each stage of the application process and avoid any costly mistakes.
10. Bylines and bios
Like your company profile, bios and bylines have a significant impact on your audience. You want people to know who you are, get a taste of your personality, but keep things professional.
An experienced writer is capable of giving your bio a personal touch while presenting you in the best light for industry experts and clients alike. They can quickly tailor bios to cater to different audiences.
11. Blog posts
“The currency of blogging is authenticity and trust.” – Jason Calacanis
Blogging should be a considerable part of any marketing strategy, no matter your industry. It helps you build a loyal audience that will carry your message to potential customers, and can kickstart your startup in many ways.
But coming up with enough content to keep your blog relevant is no small task.
There is an official distinction between copywriters and content writers. Content writers traditionally produce less promotional articles, while copywriters are focused on copy that showcases your business in the best light possible. But a good writer can do both separately, as well create hybrid pieces where the aim is to entertain and sell.
Copywriters are idea machines, who can churn out engaging content, on a variety of topics, looked at from many different angles. More engagement means more leads and more conversion rates for your company. And like mentioned before, they can help optimize your online content in favor of the search results.
12. Ad copy
“Nobody reads ads. People read what interests them. Sometimes it’s an ad.” – Howard Gossage
Of course, ads remain a necessity, providing opportunities for lead generation. But given the constant state of information overload, nobody likes to feel like they’re being sold to.
Ad writers can generate ad copy that feels like valuable content or something clickable for another reason. They’re also well-versed in SEO content and keyword placement, which can get you to the top of the Google ranks, to convert even more leads.
Extra: social media
This might be an odd one, as social media marketing is more an ongoing, sometimes real-time, form of content production. Yet, there are many things that are planned and created beforehand. Think of give-aways, special announcements.
Even long-form content, like statements or experiences are candidates for a writer to tackle for you. There are plenty of examples where a social media post has gone viral for companies, and a writer can help you tell your story effectively.
And if your writer is really, really good
“Poor copy cannot overcome faults or gaps in dealer distribution; it cannot even cash in on the finest dealer setups. But good copy can, and does, surmount many dealer difficulties, making them secondary, and selling in spite of them.” – Victor Schwab
There are writers who will go above and beyond what you ask. They will ask you challenging questions, conduct deep research into your niche, stay on top of related trends and come up with content ideas of their own. I had a writer once who would call up the manufacturer of products, just to make sure she got every little detail right. I never asked her to do that.
Those signals indicate your writer has become an expert in your business. You could take advantage of that by giving them a more leading role in your content marketing. Involve them in planning your editorial calendar, ask them for feedback on your branding. Let them become the storyteller of your startup.
Where do you find copywriters?
So by now, you know exactly why your company needs a copywriter. How do you hire them? There are a few places you can try first:
1. Content service platforms
Content platform sites allow you to place article orders and leave it up to writers to choose the jobs they want to do. Most have a screening process so you can ensure you’re getting writers familiar with spelling, grammar, and style conventions.
It’s a great way to find talent cheap and build up a writer pool for many purposes. Usually, if you’re unhappy with the result, you can ask for revisions or fire the writer. In case you fire, you don’t need to pay for the job, and it will open up again for other writers.
A disadvantage of these platforms is that it might take some time to find a quality writer. The trick here is to post your job with a very detailed article brief, and strict requirements on quality and delivery. This will filter out low-quality writers.
2. Freelance websites and job boards
Here you post an ad for the work you want to be done, and freelance copywriters bid for the chance to work with you. The upside to this is that you can set a preferred price and end up with an entire list of qualified writers you can use. The downside is they tend to be pricier than content sites.
3. Word Of mouth
If there’s anyone you know in the industry whose blog you admire, or who has the best scripts for their promotional material, reach out! This is an excellent way to network and could put you in touch with some top-shelf talent.
Copywriters, especially freelancers, love referrals, so pay it forward when you get the chance.
What is the best way to find writers? It all depends on what you’re looking for. If you need a few short ads, it’s less hassle to work with a content platform. But you may look into a longer contract if you want something long term.
Before you hire a writer, check out my list of dos and don’ts.
Hiring and managing copywriters – dos and don’ts
- Do: Write clear instructions. Be precise about your desired word count, and what else you’re looking for. If you’re worried about hitting a specific tone, providing samples can help your copywriter understand where you’re coming from. Some writer types work best with as little instruction as possible, but stick to a comprehensive article brief when you’ve just started outsourcing your content.
- Don’t: Go looking for SEO experts. Yes, you need someone that will be able to create a good piece of content when given a list of keywords. But you want your work to sound natural, so provide the necessary terms and topics, and allow your content writer to do their creative magic.
- Do: Create a relationship. Be cordial in your emails. If you’re posting a job, avoid phrases like “I will not accept work that is not written in grammatically correct English.” Professional writers know this, it’s what you’re hiring them for.
- Don’t: Settle for any writing that does not meet your standards or does not align with your brand. Subpar copy could result from something you didn’t do right (an incomplete article brief, for instance). Or your writer is overloaded, or just doesn’t cut it. Either way, bad content will give your startup, well, a bad start. And, if you’re unlucky, it will stick around for a while.
- Do: Be realistic and professional. No matter your relationship to your copywriter, dropping an email to ask, “Hey can you write this 4,0000-word ebook for me by tomorrow?” is unreasonable. So is a laundry list of instructions that gives no room for flexibility in tone, topic, or style, and essentially boils down to “I want you to copy this exact blog, this information, in this style, but also pass Copyscape.”
- Don’t: Talk to copywriters about lead generation, ROI, or other analytical data. Some may be familiar with lead generation and conversion by virtue of running their own business. But that isn’t what you’re paying them for. It’s their job to write content people will read and understand. It’s your job to pay attention to the numbers.
- Do: Provide feedback to your copywriter. If they’re not hitting the tone, but the writing is excellent, let them know you’d like it tweaked for next time. Copywriters, especially on a freelance basis, know that there’s some flexibility in interpretation, so if there’s something more specific you need, they need to know.
- Don’t: Ask for weeks worth of rewrites. A client who likes what you’ve written but wants it longer, only to decide they actually want to change the tone, only to decide that listicles are out and they actually want a pro and con list… you get the idea. Know what you want ahead of time and offer clear instructions and feedback.
- Do: Be upfront about the job you’re offering. It’s not uncommon to go over or under a word count by a hundred or so words. But if you want a 1K blog post or 300 words for a brochure or product description, don’t tell your copywriter it’s “around 750” or “maybe 200” words.
As you can see, most of these guidelines have to do with maintaining communication and being very clear about what you need.
The clearer you can be, the easier it will be to find and keep a high-quality writer, which can be crucial to your startup journey. After all, it’s through your content that you communicate who you are, and who you will be.