One of the beautiful things about being in business today is that there are so many tools that handle tasks we used to hire people for. But for those tasks that can’t be simplified or automated by a piece of software, you have to make a decision:
Do it yourself or pay someone to do it for you.
Writing copy and content for your website is one of those such tasks. And it’s an important one, too.
There are valid arguments on both sides of the fence about whether it’s a good idea to hire a copywriter or do it yourself. If you’re struggling to make a decision, let this be your guide.
Should I write my own website copy?
There are a plethora of tools that make designing your own website possible. By there’s no counterpart for copywriting; the words that go on your pages need to be written from-scratch by someone.
Consider the following if you’re thinking about doing it yourself:
- It’s free.
- You know your business better than anyone.
- You have 100% control over what is written and how it appears on the page.
- Your website can go live as soon as you’re ready for it to.
- Others have complimented your writing previously, so you know that people like your style.
There is another reason why you might consider writing your copy and it’s this: you don’t have a firm idea of what you do, who you serve or what makes your business different yet.
Just keep in mind that if you try to work out these kinks on your own, you’ll end up having to rewrite your copy once all of the details are sorted out. If you hire a good copywriter, though, they can help you strategise and nail that perfect copy now.
Reasons why not:
- You hate writing and the process stresses you out.
- You don’t have time to do it.
- When you do have time, it takes too long.
- You wrote the current copy for your website, but no one is visiting or signing up so you’re sure there’s something wrong with it.
- You’re too close to the topic and can’t get yourself out of the sales mindset. But you don’t want your website to come off sounding like a sales pitch.
- You’re not sure how to do SEO, but really need your website to rank in search.
Another point worth considering is whether your content is good enough. If you’re curious to know how your copywriting skills rate, there are a couple tools that will check it for you:
The first is the Hemingway Editor.
This online editor not only provides you with a place to write copy, but it grades the quality of your grammar as well. While this example reflects a “good” score, you can see that it’s marked up with errors all over the place.
Another tool that analyses copy is the Yoast SEO plugin. It’s a free plugin for WordPress. Not only does it give you a place to tell Google how to display your pages in search results, but it also grades the quality of those pages, too.
If your Yoast plugin shows more warning signs (red and orange) than approvals (green), you’ll have to spend time cleaning it up.
Bottom line: If your copy analysis looks like a grade school teacher took a pen to it in either of these tools, it might be best to let a professional handle it for you (especially if the process of writing it was stressful enough).
What should I look for in a professional copywriter?
If you decide to hire a copywriter, don’t think of it as another cost. If you find the right copywriter, the money you spend becomes an investment in your future success.
But how do you know what to look for in a copywriter? Here are some points to consider:
Area of expertise
Just as you have your own speciality, so too do copywriters. Beware of anyone who claims to “do it all”. If you want someone to write content in a voice that sounds like yours, they need to understand what you do and why you do it.
Look for copywriters with experience and, more importantly, expertise in your niche.
Understanding your call-to-action
There are a number of actions you may want visitors to take on your website:
- To educate themselves on your services.
- To schedule a call.
- To subscribe to your blog.
- To buy or download something.
When you hire a copywriter, it’s more than just hiring someone who can write well. You want to make sure your copywriter understands how to translate your call-to-action into words.
Quality of communication
You can tell a lot about a copywriter by the quality of communication they have with you.
Review their emails for spelling and grammatical issues. If they don’t take the time to check their work there, will they do the same for your site?
Gauge their level of professionalism and tone when you speak to them over video. Is it on par with what you want your own content to sound like?
Make note of their responsiveness. Do they respond in a timely manner? Do they show up for calls or send requested materials when they said they would?
Listen to what they have to say — in their application and in your one-on-one exchanges with them. Do they ask thoughtful questions? Are they already coming up with ideas to help you?
If you’re not on the same page during these earlier exchanges, you’re likely to have problems when you work together.
How much should it cost?
Before you engage with a copywriter, set a reasonable budget for the job. What can you afford to spend on the copy for your website? Take into consideration things like what your own time is worth and how much time you’d otherwise spend to create it. Also, think about what you’ll get in exchange: visitors, leads and sales. What are they worth to you?
When evaluating copywriter candidates, make sure their pricing fits within the budget you’ve predetermined.
How do I get started with a copywriter?
There are a number of places you can find a good copywriter for your business — just make sure it’s a reputable source. Start with blogs you enjoy reading and reach out to those writers to see if they’re available. Then, refer to your professional and personal communities for referrals. If nothing comes from that, dedicated job boards like Problogger will help you get the word out.
If you are working with a freelance copywriter for your website, send them your contract. It should contain all key details about the project (like project cost, payment methods, start and end date, etc.) as well as information about your working relationship. If you don’t have one yet, don’t sweat it. Free software like AND CO actually writes the contract for you.
All you have to do is fill in the specifics about the client and the project. Then, let the software email the contract to the copywriter and capture their official acceptance of the project details for you.
With a signature in hand and a copywriter eager to move forward, there’s only one thing left to do. And that’s to provide them with some basic details to help get them started.
It’s probably easiest to get on a call for 15 to 30 minutes and talk to them about your business and goals for your website, but you can also email the details if that’s easier. If you’re not sure how exactly you want the copy to be written, that’s fine, too. Just send them some examples of websites you really like and they can take it from there!
Your coaching website plays a critical role in the success of your business. It helps people find you, get in touch with you and make up their minds about whether you’re the right coach for them in the first place.
And it all starts with the words splashed across the page.
Suzanne Scacca is a freelance writer, specialising in web design, marketing, and technology. She also teaches classes at Skillshare and is a sucker for movies, food, and dogs.