There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to copywriting. I had a few myself when I made the pivot from being a pretty successful journalist to writing material for people and their businesses.
But there is one critical thing people get wrong when they look to hire a copywriter. Understanding what a copywriter can do to help. And how they can help.
The first misconception you have, and I had this one myself is, copywriting is easy. Yep, I thought: ‘I’ve been writing all my life. I’ve had articles published on the front pages of national newspapers. I’ve interviewed celebrities. This will be a piece of cake.”
Err…wrong. While yes, I am, and this is not me blowing my own trumpet, an accomplished journalist and editor, copywriting is very different.
I had to learn a whole new raft of skills and way of thinking. Like a ballerina learning how to do ice skating. Yes, similar. But oh so different.
While writing itself is easy – yes, anyone can write a shopping list or an email. Writing copy for a website, or to sell something, or for social media posts which actually WORK, or that communicates with someone on a very particular level, that isn’t.
Copywriting, when it’s done right, takes tonnes of research, preparation, and planning. You can’t just bash it out. (you could add a ‘sh**t’ in that sentence.)You have to choose particular words. You have to address their pain points. You can’t be slapdash. You have to understand the service and product you are writing about. AND the audience it is being sold to. Especially the audience. You need to know what their desires and goals are. YOu are motivating them to take a specific action. It isn’t always the case that the words will flow.
If A Client Says They Can Write Copy Easily Get Them To Tell You Why
If your client tells you they think you can write their copy quickly, ask them why they are using you. Maybe they should be hiring an editor instead. If they think they can do the job they are asking you to do with ease, then that should be a warning sign. Because the likelihood is they won’t appreciate your efforts.
Copywriting Doesn’t Take A Long Time
It doesn’t take too long to bash out a page of copy, right? And if you type fast even less time. So copywriting, that isn’t time-consuming, is it? Wrong. Doing copywriting the right way involves a lot of steps. You have to be in the mind of the business owner and the intention of the buyer. If the copy is done in 10 seconds flat, it misses steps and won’t speak to these groups.
Always be clear how long a job will take. It can’t be done quickly. And if someone asks you to cut a corner. Tell them “no”. Your work will suffer, and their work will suffer too! If someone wants something done quickly, even more rapidly than you asked, ask them why. It is often not as urgent as your client says.
You Don’t Need A Detailed Brief
Often a business owner will say to me: “Why do we need to do an interview? Why do I need to fill out this Q and A? Why can’t you just, you know, do it?”
If I want to do a good job, I want to make sure I do it the right way for you.
Busy business owners see filling out a detailed brief as time-consuming. But that can lead to them losing clients in the long run because they haven’t explained what they want properly. Or what they need. And your copy needs to be utterly authentic, so you stand out from the crowd.
I will often get a client to talk me through their brief on the phone. Then we will discuss in more detail, and I will end up with another several pages of information. The brief needs to be a non-negotiable item on the list. Once they see that, and it is in their best interests. Awesome!
Writing Short Copy Is Quicker
No, this is SOOO not true. It is actually harder to write shorter copy. You have to still pack the same punch, get the same meaning, make the same impact. But with less material. When I worked for The Sun in the UK, it was WAAAYYY harder writing into short, punchy copy than a long rambling feature for a broadsheet.
Copywriting, when done right, should have several revisions. Shorter projects also need way more editing. Be realistic, and make sure they understand that.
Editing Existing Copy Is Faster Than Creating It From Scratch
Oh, dear, who came up with that one? Have you ever tried to bake a cake, and you get given the cake mix halfway through? You then have to try and bake it your way, not really knowing how it all got put together and if the ingredients are even right.
Or it’s like rearranging a puzzle but trying to make a different picture (thanks Belinda Weaver for that analogy you rock! )
While yes, you can do that. But it is not so easy to finesse what is there already. Or give it some sparkle. Writing from scratch creates something new and exciting. And I usually find when I work from the beginning, a beautiful new picture comes together. It’s more efficient and a better finish.
The best thing to do is to review a client’s copy and then quote. If it does only need a few edits, great. But if it’s a surgical procedure, be honest!
So there you have it, there are some misnomers about copywriting (for the client’s reading this) and some ways to correct them and address them (for those of you who are copywriting already)
And If you liked this post, then check out my post on how to get your business on TV. Yep, this isn’t just about copywriting, you know. You can learn the ropes on how to do publicity for your brand or business. And what to do to make your social media snappy!
And don’t forget to check out my Facebook Media Content Guru, where I post tips and tricks every day. And the Instagram @theoriginalzoen. Check them out!