Recently I’ve noticed a trend among business owners when it comes to hiring copywriters.
They’re nervous. They’ve been burned by someone who didn’t “get” them or disappeared, leaving them with a puff of smoke where their content was supposed to be.
I get it. Being on the other side of the fence, I see many reasons why copywriting relationships don’t work. I’ve even written a free ebook “7 Mistakes Most Business Owners Make When They Hire A Copywriter.” You can download it – no charge – right here.
When smart people have a bad experience, they decide, “Next time we’ll do things differently.” So they decide to learn copywriting on their own, which is a very smart move. Copywriting legend John Carlton encourages everyone who wants to be a successful entrepreneur to learn the basics of copywriting; you’re freed from dependency on outside writers and you know good copy when you see it.
Business owners also consider new ways to evaluate a copywriter. And so now we’re seeing more requests for samples. Lots of samples. I would have done the same until I jumped the fence to the copywriting side.
Recently, when I told someone about a new course I’m putting together on About Pages (coming very soon!), she said, “I’d want to see lots of examples of before-and-after before I sign up.”
Now, I do laser critiques on training calls (you can always volunteer yours!) but before-and-after examples are tricky. In fact all examples are tricky.
I could write a page for someone else and you’d hate it…but it worked for them. Or the client asked for something special in their copy — something I normally wouldn’t do — and you get turned off. Or you hate the copy because you’re just not in that target market.
Suppose you were driving cross-country, your mp3 player died and all you could get on the radio were country music stations. The commercials might make you feel a little ill. I happen to like a lot of country music and I can’t relate to those commercials: I’m an outlier in their listening audience. But the target audience? That’s a different story.
Or you might love the page I wrote for someone else –but it worked because they have unique stories or talents or niches. Or they had gorgeous photos that dominated the site and the copy wouldn’t have worked without those images. Or it’s good copy but it’s not appropriate to your style or audience or service.
I have a few landing pages that are converting around 80% for subscriber sign ups but they wouldn’t fit most clients (who’d be horrified if I gave them those pages anyway).
The truth is, when I show you your own copy, your first reaction will probably be, “How can I politely say this is [something unprintable]?” Once again, quoting the legend John Carlton, “If [my clients] say “hey, this is great copy”, then I suspect I’ve failed to deliver the best ad possible… I want them up all night, worried sick about how the ad gonna’s do… because great copy always takes you out of your comfort zone.”
The best advice I’ve seen comes from Neville Medhora, who suggests you … “[start with ] whoever writes your favorite blog posts or whoever writes your favorite emails. You probably have 1 – 3 websites or email newsletters you always read. Identify those people, then reach out asking if they do consulting.”
The truth about copywriting: It starts with content strategy.
The most common reason people have a negative experience? They start writing before they come up with a content strategy.
Once you’ve clarified your strategy, the copy practically writes itself. In fact, if you match your offer to your audience’s backstory, you’ll win even if you’ve got mediocre copy (though of course you’ll usually win bigger with better copy).
More places to learn:
“Becoming A Copywriter” includes a video course on copywriting http://mycopy.info/beaco
“Copywriting For Non-Copywriters” shares the basics as a Udemy course – this link gives you a significant discount –
Connie Ragen Green has a short, practical course designed for people who want to write copy without becoming professional copywriters. My affiliate link is here: http://mycopy.info/copycourse