When I first started on the Internet, I was concerned about spending money. You’re probably expecting a follow up like, “But then I realized it was important to spend money to make money.” Can your online presence be created with bargains?
Recently I was browsing through Craigslist when I came across an ad that promised copywriting for … $49. That’s what they charge for a few pages on a website or a letter. I gathered that a whole sales letter comes at a higher price … a whopping $69.
How do they do it so cheap?
Well, I looked at the fine print. I didn’t find any info about who would be writing this copy, how they were trained, and why they were qualified.
They’re hoping you’ll say, “No big deal. Who cares who they are? They’re cheap and they seem to be getting results. Just look at those testimonials!”
I googled the names on the testimonials and came up empty. Sure, they were real people, but they seem to have an online presence limited to Twitter. I didn’t find their websites anywhere.
That’s a sign.
How do I know what’s reasonable to pay for someone when I’m starting?
My response is, “What you pay is less important than the order in which you hire.”
Here’s a common question I get at the beginning of a consultation:
“I just paid $2000 for someone to design my WordPress website. Now I need to put the copy into the website.”
The designer created a home page with three “what next” boxes. When we talked, he realized he just needed two. His clients tended to move in one of two directions – period.
This business owner needed to take several steps before working on the website design.
A professional copywriter (not the bargain basement variety) would help you clarify your message. If you’re making radical changes or starting with a new business, your brand and message might be a little fuzzy; you’ll get clarity only after you’ve worked with multiple clients. You might even realize you need to narrow or broaden your brand and target market. But you need a starting point.
Be clear on your first offer (or the offer you want to focus on now).
Will you have a package of coaching or consulting sessions? Will you offer a program – anything from a course to a balanced financial portfolio?
Do you want to create an information or tangible product?
Be clear on who will buy your offer.
You probably know “everybody” is not the answer.
Demographics probably won’t be helpful on their own.
Problems won’t be particularly helpful., believe it or not. Focus on the way your client is experiencing the problem.
For example, I once worked with a business owner with a unique niche: helping foster and adoptive parents deal with difficult children. The children might be adopted, been through a divorce or coming with no exposure to discipline.
Naturally the business owner became aware of the parents’ problems: How to deal with doubt, anger and inevitable flare-ups. When setting up the website, we needed to focus on symptoms. What a typical day now….and what would an ideal day look like? In other words, tell stories. It’s often hard to do this when you’re close to your own material.
Buying business resources is like shopping in a consignment shop…and knowing when you must go to a high-quality retail outlet.
When you know what looks good on you, you can spend a pittance on clothes and look like a million bucks. When you know what delivers value, A gently used sweater selling for $25 is a bargain if you know how to recognize quality…and you know it’s not a bargain if you can buy a new one on Amazon for $30.
You also have to know your quality indicators and deal-breakers. Some flaws are very easy to fix. Some aren’t. You lose money every time you walk home with something that falls apart and looks frumpy even before you take it out of the bag.
It’s very important to work through these questions before writing a line of copy – and definitely before hiring a designer.
How To Start Small
Some business owners start with courses and books. That’s When you’ve studied copywriting and gained some experience, you may be able to create an online presence from Craigslist writers. You might get lucky with a brand new copywriter who’s got special deals. You’ll know what to ask for and how to evaluate what you’re given.
You can enhance your online presence with an affordable design and logo when you know what to ask for and how to develop specifications. A lot of people get their first (and sometimes their only) logo from Fiverr or 99 Designs. For instance, a logo should be reproducible in different sizes and colors. It should be really, really simple.
If you’d like to learn more about what makes copy great, you can begin with my free guide:
Your 21-Point Extreme Copy Makeover.
And if you’d like to become an expert, and maybe become a copywriter yourself, check out my new course on copywriting here.