I consider myself a pretty decent writer. I try to follow the best practices when it comes to assembling my sentences, but sometimes the stuff I want to write about just takes to darn long. Not every post can be a 15-minute masterpiece, nor can everyone write with their mind both on good grammar and good content that will attract search engines.
As we've established, you should be an expert at running your business, not necessarily writing fluid and interesting articles that are search engine friendly with lots of keywords. You may even possess those skills, but if it's taking you too long to put together regular blog posts, hiring a copywriter regularly might alleviate some of your burden while still conveying your most important ideas in an effective manner.
I actually exchanged emails with a colleague of mine who does copywriting, Jackson Armstrong, to find out a little bit more about what goes into the process of writing good copy, especially if it's for someone else's business. I know what to write about here because I know what ideas are floating in my head, but how does a copywriter extract those ideas for someone else?
In most cases, Jackson told me, copywriters research the client/business as much as possible, and prepare questions for an interview that will help him to write the article. "It's always better to have more information than I need," he says. "If I can gather all the information I need in one interview, I've done my job right."
Of course, it's not just sounding good, but search engine optimization (SEO) is also important when assembling copy for your pages. "I organize my research and interview notes, and write a list of words and phrases that someone might use when searching for the business on Google or another engine. [Then] I try to insert the SEO words and phrases into the content without making it obvious." Once he's written a few drafts and is happy with the copy, the business gets a chance to review it. They discuss changes or additions, and Jackson gets back to work at making sure the ideas are conveyed effectively while keeping an eye on his keywords.
Blogging is an obvious use for a copywriter; as I mentioned in the beginning, as some people just don't have the time to keep up regular posts. Having the help of someone like Jackson might result in optimized articles that both existing customers and customers searching for you might appreciate. Not all copywriters will do it because it involves a lot more time just getting to know the business rather than writing, but establishing that relationship is a good idea for the business owner who either doesn't like to write or can't write regularly.
Of course, all this costs money, but there are many affordable options out there. The average hourly rate for a copywriter is about $50, with seasoned copywriters getting upwards of $100. If you can define a project for your copywriter, however, you might be able to establish a flat fee for the interview and each page of copy produced.
So, do you have an example?
Yes, yes I do.
Jackson was kind enough to provide an example of what good copywriting can do for your site. In the original document he received, the client listed one of their projects in numeric fashion, keeping a bullet list of items they wanted to highlight on a project they had listed on their site:
- Project Name- S 15th & Broad St - Mount Vernon
- Description- Roadway Improvments
- Owner- City of Mount Vernon
- Contact- Al Steele
- Month/Year Completed- 05/2009
- Contract Amount- $160,000
Using this list as context, Jackson re-wrote the list. He attempted to retain the simplicity of the list because internet readers tend to have a short attention span and are drawn to information presented quickly. However, he modified the description to include keywords "subgrade repair" and "asphalt overlay" to allow the page to be more easily found by search engines.
- S. 15th and Broadway St. –Mount Vernon
- The City of Mount Vernon
- In May of 2009, we successfully completed much needed roadway subgrade repair and asphalt overlay to S. 15th and Broadway St. in Mount Vernon.
"If a potential customer in the area wanted similar work done, and searched for those terms on an internet search engine, then they could find my client," Jackson explained. Therefore, both retaining simplicity and identifying important keywords are paramount to assembling a top-quality page.
So do you need a copywriter?
It depends on your needs. But a few questions to ask that might help you figure it out:
- Do I have the time to write my pages in a way that will make them appeal to my visitors?
- Do I like writing, or would I rather pay someone to do it?
- Do I know exactly what keywords are most important in order for people to find my business, and do I know how to incorporate them effectively into my pages?
Good copy is as important to a web site, if not more so, than its design. The most beautiful pictures and layout in the world won't help you get discovered by your customers if the content isn't good. Having a good copywriter that you can work with can help you to achieve that solid search engine ranking.