Why you need a copywriter for your website

by on September 9, 2010

Anyone can pick up a pen and write - but can they create killer web content?

Anyone can pick up a pen and write - but can they create killer web content?

Why do I need to pay someone to write my website for me? I can just do it myself. Here, look. I just need to write down what I do, maybe define this word and voila, all done.

Many small businesses have a whole whack of reasons for why they don’t need to hire a copywriter. (And if you’re still not convinced that you even need a website, please read this pronto).

Let’s get one thing straight. A web content copywriter does not write. Anyone can write. He or she communicates. Talks to your customers in a voice and language they understand and relate to. Talks to them about what is causing them pain, what their problem is. Talks to all the great things that you do, in a way that is genuine and not car salesman-y. It’s all about communication baby. You can write the words, but can you talk the talk your customer will listen to?

Here’s how a professional web content copywriter can rock your small business website:

  • Professional copywriters will do a Features, Advantages, and Benefits (FAB) analysis of what your small business does. They will crawl into the minds of your customers. And figure out what benefits would get them going. And that’s what they’ll highlight in their copy. Too many businesses fall in the trap of just describing what they do without “selling it”. We’ve all seen websites like this. Tons of them in fact. They make me want to pull my hair out. So you sell car parts. SO WHAT?!$ I wanna know why I should buy from you and not Joe down the street. (And if your copy is so jargon-filled or vague that I actually don’t know what you can do for me, do you think I’m gonna call you?)
  • A good copywriter will not just copy what your competitors are doing. He or she will certainly research them, but will then bring out an angle, a voice, a perspective that will help you stand out from the crowd and highlight what it is about you that makes your small business special.
  • A copywriter will bring an outside perspective and fresh ideas. They are more likely to think like your website visitors than you are and will bring up angles that you never even thought of. You are completely ingrained in your business; you know the jargon in and out. When it comes to writing about your business, this is not a good thing, as you often just end up writing to yourself, not to your customers.
  • If you bring in the copywriter in the beginning stages of your website project (ie. before you have signed off on the site map), you can also get some good ideas for strategic direction. I often find that as I’m researching and as I’m writing, I will get ideas that didn’t occur to me before. This is when my creative juices are truly flowing. Maybe for a web page that could be really effective. Or a shift in emphasis from this benefit to that one. Being able to use these ideas is certainly getting more bang for your copywriter buck. If your website is already established and you’re bringing in a copywriter after the fact, let him or her know that you are open to new ideas and directions. Even if you don’t use them right away, just a little more communication arsenal you can tuck away for later (and you already have your copywriter on board to execute – bonus!)
  • A good copywriter can write with search engine optimization in mind, without making it super obvious. A lot of SEO companies will sacrifice copy flow to jam in keywords. A copywriter an give you an objective analysis of when enough is enough.
  • And finally, a copywriter has no problem with spouting off how awesome you are. A lot of people have trouble writing complimentary and “selling” copy about themselves. It’s awkward. You feel like a tool. Like you’re full of yourself. So you inadvertently tone it down. And that sucks. Let someone else sing your full praises. In a way that’s credible and genuine of course.

Now if you are in the very beginning stages of starting your small business, have not secured any funding and are cutting costs by putting up your own website, you might be thinking “Who the hell does this chick think she is? I can’t afford a copywriter! And now I have one more reason to worry about my website, thanks lot.” Sorry. I’m just telling it is like it is. And even if you can’t afford a copywriter right this second, understanding the value of one is half the battle.

So if hiring a copywriter is just not possible for you at the moment, put it in your plan and your budget. You can always bring on a copywriter at a later date. And if that’s what you need to do, here are some tips for going it on your own:

  • Check out some online resources for copywriting. Sign up for their updates. Learn from the pros. Educate yourself on some of the best practices, and try to apply them when you can. My fav hands-down is Copyblogger.
  • Make sure that you aren’t just describing what you do. Get the FAB going. Ask yourself “so what?” frequently. Boast about the wonderful world of your biz. Don’t worry, no one can see you blushing.
  • Get someone totally outside of your business to read what you’ve written. Make sure they understand what you are trying to say. The best type of person for this is either a loud mouth who loves giving their opinion and/or someone who falls in your target market.
  • Get your data gathering mechanisms in place. Set up Google Analytics. Make note of the types of questions coming through customer service. When you are ready to hire a copywriter to revamp your web content, this information will be invaluable to him or her.

What have been your experiences with copywriters? How have you handled the content on your website? Share in the comments…

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