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What can a copywriter do that I can’t?

Ok, knowing ‘what does a copywriter do’ is one thing (but I’ll recap anyway). It’s another to know ‘what can a copywriter do that I can’t’. So if you want a definition of a 2020 copywriter, then read on. But the real value of this article will come from understanding how they add value to you. You need to know what a copywriter can do that you can’t.

What does a copywriter do?

I talk in detail about what is a copywriter in a previous article. In short, they write the words (or content) that your audience (that’s the readers of your website, promotional material, social media posts etc.) read. They write the words that link your customers to your products and services, and get them educated, entertained, connected, engaged and fired-up ready to make a purchase, contact you, or do what you want.

In 2020, this predominantly means that a copywriter is a content writer: they write content for the internet. Therefore they should be an SEO copywriter – more on this shortly.

So what does a copywriter do on a daily basis?

This will vary a little on the specific nature of the individual copywriter. But you’ll find me scratching my head over straplines, click-clacking away dashing out a blog post, carefully crafting website content over weeks, or weaving together a string of social media posts. Also in there, you’ll find a smattering of product descriptions, a deep dive in to an eBook, and a lot more besides.

However, the mark of a truly fabulous copywriter comes down to two other factors which aren’t just typing about words on a page: research and SEO.

Research is the power to incredible copy. Without impressive and accurate research, copy falls flat. It fails to educate and inspire. It’s an underestimated element of copywriting. It’s our first clue as to what a copywriter does that you can’t. Few within a business will have the time, inclination or skills to research like a copywriter possessed with a thirst for knowledge.

Then there’s the next issue: SEO.

Copy as a tool

Your business’s written copy serves many purposes. However, an astronomically important reason is being found. Your copy is the neon signpost shouting out to the ether that is the World Wide Web, “come to me”. It does this through the magic that is search engine optimisation (SEO). Read more about what is SEO.

I cannot stress this enough: SEO is where a copywriter is really worth their salt. Yes, they should be able to write accurate, well-researched, engaging writing. But it’s no use if no one sees it. So, a copywriter in 2020 must be an SEO copywriter and must know how it works.

Now, while SEO copywriting doesn’t require the copywriter to have a qualification (although seriously, opt for someone highly literate), it’s actually a highly skilled task. There are not many who can create the magic formula that results in what a copywriter can do that you can’t:

Research + Writing Skill + SEO techniques = Incredible Content

There’s even more to copywriting

Now that tells you all about the basics. It’s the bare minimum that I believe you should expect from a copywriter in 2020. Unfortunately, it’s not necessarily what you get.

But, there’s more that a copywriter can do, that you can’t.

A copywriter eats, sleeps, and breathes words. If they aren’t writing, chances are they will be reading. This makes them astoundingly good, hopefully, at tone of voice. This really matters. With multi-channel marketing endeavours, you need to be consistent, and on-brand, with the tone of voice your business uses across everything it does.

How I am writing here – somewhat sparky and punchy and definitely informally – is not how you’ll find me writing if I’m writing a healthcare website. It’s not the tone I use when writing for all of my accountancy clients (although for some I do). A copywriter should be able to slip into different writing styles as easily as they slip in to their favourite pyjamas.

In a way, a copywriter is the perfect Jekyll and Hyde. They can switch personas each and every time they open a new document in Word. However, they are also the most consistent. So they will (or should) always remember the exact style that works for your business. They will remember that your CEO hates the word ‘awesome’ or that, for some unfathomable reason, they don’t accept that sentences can legitimately start with ‘but’ in 2020, on the internet in informal writing.

Then there’s something else: sheer volume. If I had a pound for every client that started out thinking they’d produce all of their own content in-house and then realised they simply couldn’t keep up with the pace, I’d be kicking back on a beach somewhere warm.

The internet chomps up content like an insanely hungry beast. There will always be other demands on your time – you know, the ones that earn money now, today – that mean content creation gets pushed to the side. Yet, you need it. So, a copywriter feeds that hungry beast for you. They can produce expert content quickly and efficiently, to time, all the time. It’s for the simple reason that it is all they do.

The caveats…

Of course, all this assumes that you’ve found a copywriter who does actually know all of the above. If you choose a copywriting mill then you’ll get the volume without the quality. If you choose some freelancers or marketing agencies, you’ll get the quality, but at eye-watering costs, or too slowly. It’s about finding a copywriter who ticks all the boxes. Cheap copy will harm your brand. Quality copy is slower and more expensive to produce, but you need a fair amount of it.

That’s where you really discover how a SEO copywriter will add value.

The good news is that it’s very easy to test out a copywriter. You should be able to pay for just an article or two, and be able to see for yourself exactly how good they are, and what they do with your topic and your brand. It will take time to see results, but you’ll get a good indication of their value for money.

That’s why I’d suggest getting a blog post or single landing page written before you brief a copywriter on your entire website rewrite. Also, check out their feedback and their copywriting portfolio.

Value yourself, value your business and value your copywriter

At the end of the day, nothing is stopping you writing your own copy. However, once the realist in you is released, and you discover that a copywriter can do more than you can, thanks to their knowledge of SEO and more, realise that valuing your time and your business success will depend on your valuing your copywriter.

Chrissie Brown is The Content Ninja. I love getting to know a client’s audience, adopting their tone of voice, getting stuck in to some research and producing copy that persuades both the reader and the search engine bots to take notice.

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