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So, you need copywriting? What now? 4 questions to ask.

copywriting

It seems like more often than at any point in the past few years, I see agency owners frustrated with the whole content issue.

They regularly struggle to get content from their clients for website projects. That is one reason I created the Website Copy Framework.

There are two things you need to realize when it comes to content. First, clients will always underestimate the difficulty and scope of writing their own content.

They always will. They will find it harder than they expect it to be for several reasons, including it is simply hard to write about your own business.

They will also underestimate how long it takes to write the content and regularly turn in poorly written content. How many times have you had to “edit” the content?

The second thing you need to realize is that writing content for a website is a very different skill than everyday business writing. Sure, there are some similarities, but you are writing to persuade someone to take action. At least, I hope you are.

So, it continues to be hard to get content from clients for a website project, and it will be until you realize the value of the process. When someone creates, collects, and adds content, that is a whole different project from the actual website project.

So it is time to take a different approach. In doing so, you may choose to hire a copywriter.

With that in mind, today’s article will address for copywriting and four critical questions you need to ask.

Question Number 1: What is copywriting?

Two Women Holding Pen
Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom

Let’s start with the first question, which is “What is a copywriter?” You noticed I talked about a copywriter, not a content writer. We talked in the introduction about getting content from the client, but content is an elusive term.

I can remember when I first started creating websites, content was used for everything that went inside the shell, including text, images, graphics, etc.

Content is often used for the text these days as well, especially when you talk about creating blog posts.

The more accurate term is copy. You need the copy from your client and the person who writes that is called a copywriter.

“Broadly defined, copy is text within a publication or composition. It is in contrast to any graphic or pictorial aspects of a publication, article, or another kind of composition.” The Balance Small Business

How do you define copywriting?

I have often defined copywriting as, “the business copy used to inspire or persuade to take an action.” This allows the word to refer to every part of the website funnel, including the website copy, emails copy, landing pages, PPC ads, blog posts, and more.

I take a very basic approach because I believe copywriting is the umbrella term that refers to all business copy (NGO’s too).

Copywriter Jacob McMillen does a great job of dissecting copywriting in this article.

His own definition is,

“Copywriting is the process of writing words intended to prompt a specific action by the reader.”

This is a very good definition. McMillen also gives the definition of 5 other sources including Copyblogger which says,

“Copywriting is the art and science of strategically delivering words (whether written or spoken) that get people to take some form of action. Copywriters are some of the highest-paid writers in the world.” Source

So you get the idea. Delivering words that take action.

That’s what you need to understand about copywriting and one reason I refer to what agencies are looking for as copy rather than content. I even think a blog post (I call them articles) is copywriting because at the end of the day you are trying to get someone to take action.

Question Number 2: What are my needs?

Modern workspace with new furniture
Photo by Max Vakhtbovych from Pexels

What are your needs? This question alone can change your outlook about what you are doing.

For many agencies, when they look to get copy done, it is because they have not gotten their copy from the company. Now they are in scramble mode.

Perhaps they are writing the copy themselves or trying to get something done so they can launch the website. An agency may wait on copy to get the site launched to get their last payment.

Over the years, many agencies have adjusted how they get paid so that they get paid when they complete their part of the project, whether or not they have copy. Others have included copywriting in their project to avoid this problem.

Whatever you choose to do, it is best to have a plan for copy from the beginning. Some agencies require copy to be submitted before starting work.

Are your needs for other parts of the funnel or for email copywriting? You may find that some copywriters specialize in these areas. Some copywriters will write the entire funnel, including the landing page, the email sequences, and sales page.

Maybe you need a copywriter who will write good, engaging content that helps the content marketing strategy.

All of these are legitimate needs.

Look to match the needs with the copywriter’s specialty or find a copywriter who is comfortable doing all the above.

Some may look for a copywriter who is comfortable writing in a specific niche industry. If you are an agency who works with a certain niche industry, then partnering with a copywriter who loves working in that industry might be a great option for you.

Consider your goals before you start your website project to avoid scrambling to find someone at the midnight hour.

Question Number 3: How much should it cost?

Silver Imac
Photo by Tranmautritam

I have previously said, “You can’t expect Copyhacker results for Upwork prices.” There is a model of pricing that has been around for a long time in development circles.

The model is called the Unattainable Triangle, or the Iron Triangle.

Developers will use this a lot to show the problem with getting something made cheaply.

Jamie Johnson sums it up well in this article,

“The general concept is that you have three choices when making a product: Make it quickly, make it cheaply, or make it well. While it has long been believed that accomplishing all three isn’t possible, some are now thinking that it is. Focusing on values and eliminating assumptions are key to the development of a valuable product.”

I think you can apply this to copywriting as well.

Pricing, as you well know, is not an exact science. We do the best we can based on various ingredients.

Copywriters usually charge one of three ways, by project, by word, and by hour. Some will also charge using value-based pricing as well.

But, what are the rates?

Well, the range can be pretty wide based on what you are needing.

For this article, I will focus on the cost of writing copy for a website.

I am going to use two sources to price a range for writing copy for a website.

AWAI is the American Writers and Artists Institute. Many American copywriters will use them to learn, train, network, and more. It is a well-known organization and some of their trainers for various skills are among the best, including Dan Kennedy, Bob Bly, and Brian Clark.

They have an existing online pricing guide with a good range for various types of projects, including website copywriting.

According to the AWAI, the range for writing a small website of 5-6 pages is $1500-3000.

Digging a little further, for a Homepage, they list a range of $450 to $4500 and an Information page a range of $250-750.

Sales pages cost considerably more.

I have always looked to this guide to consider my pricing and seek to land in the middle of these price ranges.

AWAI also has an updated, 2022 pricing guide you can download for free and no email needed.

Next, I am going to turn to this excellent recap of copywriting rates at Zenith Copy, which is run by SEO Copywriter Chima Mmeje.

Chima is not based in America, so these rates are the going rate across the globe.

For website copywriting, she lists these rates:

  • Newbie – $100 – $200
  • Intermediate – $300 – $600
  • Expert -Base price of $1,500

These prices are per copy or per page.

Chima is a SaaS copywriter, so you may keep that in mind as these rates might be more in line with SaaS copywriting.

Nevertheless, she has an excellent recap of pros and cons of charging per hour and per word for copywriters.

I agree with her assessment about charging per word,

“The focus is on quantity over quality. They’ll be tempted to pad your copy with fluff to increase the word count and earn more. There’s no thought to process, deeper research, or taking time to edit the copy properly.”

Two other sources you might want to look at are The Content Factory and the Copyhackers Copywriting Quote Calculator.

They will give you an idea of fees for expert and copywriting and content marketing agencies.

Question Number 4: Who will do the editing?

Rewrite Edit Text on a Typewriter
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

The last question we are going to ask is “who will do your editing?”

I ask this question because it is an often forgotten part of writing website copy.

The type of editing I’m talking about doesn’t just include grammar and spelling, which can be sped up by using ProWritingAid or Grammarly. I am talking about copy editing.

This is a great definition from Tara Ross,

“Website copy editing is the process of reviewing and rewriting the words and language used on your business, personal, or other website. Website copy editing focuses on eliminating errors, improving clarity and readability, and editing language so it’s suitable for an online audience.”

Some time ago I had my friend Autumn Tompkins on a video show and she pointed out the need to edit your copy to be Clear, Concise and Compelling.

So, do you have someone in place to do editing for your website copy or is that something you want the copywriter to do? Good copywriters will have a process for that and may include that in their fees.

In this week’s Atarim Web Summit, Maddy Osman had a fantastic presentation about writing for humans and explains the need for good editing. You can see that presentation here.

The question remains, “who will do your editing, or your copy editing?”

Wrapping it up

With this article I hope I have given you some food for thought. It is easy to want to get this copy thing done quickly and easily and for little money. Maybe there is a bit more to this copywriting thing.

Certainly, I can talk more about things like the copywriter’s process, voice of customer research, conversion copywriting, strategy and much more that goes into copywriting.

Copywriters also consider things like brand messaging.

Copywriting is a very valuable asset fo a good website and can be a tremendous help to the website’s success.

Have questions? Find me in the MainWP Facebook Users Group and let’s chat.

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Donata Stroink-Skillrud
Donata Stroink-Skillrud
President of Agency Attorneys