I often get asked; ‘can you just write this quickly?’ and ‘do I have to pay for research?’ and, occasionally, ‘can you just rush this out?’ (in one case, I was asked to write a 25-page website, with research, in three days. To clarify, this isn’t possible – not without doing a poor job).
Copywriting is often seen as one of those services on which people can scrimp and save, do it themselves, or cut corners. Let’s be fair: most of us can type and most of us can speak English (or the native language of whatever country you happen to be in).
However, the actual writing side of things is possibly the easiest and quickest part of the job. It’s everything that comes before that which takes time; researching the client’s product or service, researching their industry as a whole, researching what their competitors are doing (and how), keyword research, getting the tone of voice right and consistent across all of the copy, additional edits.
In answer to ‘do I have to pay for research?’, the answer is ‘yes’.
This is a bit like going into a shop and requesting to pay for the individual ingredients of a sandwich, at cost price, and not the sandwich itself.
The research often takes as long as the writing and, if you don’t want any research to be done, what you’ll get is generic copy, about your industry in general, which could be used for any of your competitors (you also run the risk of having duplicate content which is on another website).
It will also do nothing to set you apart, as a company. It won’t be unique or set out the ‘why use us over someone else?’
The above paragraph also covers ‘can you just rush this out?’ and ‘can you write this quickly?’
If you want someone to just bash keys on a keyboard, and write from the general knowledge they know about your company and your industry, then you’re looking to hire a typist, not a copywriter.
There’s nothing wrong with typists, but simply typing is not the same thing as being a copywriter.
Over the next week, I will endure a hardcore training session at an exclusive gym, have a reflexology session, and will be trying out various raw juices.
I am doing this because I want to get to know my clients (those who provide the above) inside out. How can I write about them with any great authority if I haven’t seen what it’s like to use their services?
Of course, this isn’t possible with all clients – it’s not always practical to ‘try out’ some products or services – but I try to see what it’s like to be a customer of theirs as much as I can.
So, if you work with a copywriter (or a web designer, graphic designer, or anyone offering those types of services), they should try to get under the skin of your brand as much as possible.
Therein lies the huge difference between typist and copywriter.