As of this writing, I have had hundreds of clients and way, way too many cups of coffee. I’ve been personally trained under the Masters of Copywriting (yes, I promise, there were ninja classes involved), and I’ve nearly burnt out my computer from all the typing on all the pages of copy I’ve written.
Totally not bragging. Just…explaining that I’ve seen a few things.
From what I’ve seen, I think that a lot of companies come to copywriters not really knowing what to expect from the relationship, which is fair. To help with that, I try to go over my processes up front with clients so that we both have the same expectations and know what to expect going forward.
There are a couple of things, though, that I may not have said previously when talking to clients, and I think that now it’s time to reveal some deep, dark secrets that many copywriters share.
Are you ready for the #realtalk? Let’s do it.
Secret #1: You are hiring so much more than a copywriter.
Let’s start by defining copywriting, which is probably what you think you’re hiring me for. Copywriting is, in the fewest words, writing with the intent to market or sell. When you hire me as a copywriter, you probably think that I’ll take a look at your current website, whip out some improved copy, and spin that off into a couple of landing pages or email campaigns. Voila, right?
Not. Even. Close.
Copywriters are the royal court of the writing community, at least in my opinion. Far more than just knowing what words sounds really great together, we have a few other special skills:
Knowing exactly how marketing works.
There is a TON that goes into writing compelling copy that converts. You have to know how to talk to your audience, exactly what your offer is, why your audience needs it, and – most importantly – when and how to get them to act. That’s an entire workflow of information that we utilize to write copy that will actually get the results you need, and learning how to do this took time and so much practice.
Understanding your audience, even better than you do at times.
There are times that clients come to copywriters with an idea of their audience that happens to be completely incorrect. It totally happens, and it’s great that clients use a copywriter, because we can act as a second pair of eyes on the entire marketing process. Your copywriter can help you narrow down the exact audience profile and then speak directly to them. Throughout the process of working together, copywriters come to know your audience so well that we know what they’re thinking as they’re reading our copy, and how to get them to act on it.
Overcoming objections even before they’re spoken.
Part of knowing your audience and what they’re thinking is knowing what objections they’ll bring up when they read our copy. (Yes, your audience will still have objections, even with an amazing copywriter’s magical copy.) Then it’s our job to handle those objections head-on so you can still snag that sale.
Writing so that your audience never knows it’s me.
Every single client that I work with has their own branding and their own voice – how they talk to their audience on their website, through blog posts, and on social media. Great copywriters are expert Masters of Disguise, able to write so that no one ever knows we were there; just that you have the solution to their problem.
Coaching you through the process.
No business owner likes to trust other experts with their organization, and hiring a copywriter is a big (really smart) decision. One of the more time-consuming items on my agenda is coaching my clients through the process, helping them to deliver the information I need, and teaching them what to expect from great copy, why we are structuring a campaign a specific way, and how to be comfortable with trusting me, all so that our relationship can be as productive as possible. Interviewing clients is a skill entirely in itself, because many times, you don’t even know what you know until I ask. I’ve spent years honing these skills so I can make the most out of my time AND yours.
Secret #2: I Don’t Need to Be Micromanaged.
One of the main reasons I work for myself is because I don’t need to be micromanaged. I’m one of those people who really does understand what clients are saying (and not saying) the majority of the time, so I get you. I’m a killer researcher, so I get your company and your industry.
So I don’t need you emailing me every day and asking how the project is going, or asking for updates, or “just checking in” to see if I have an outline I can share with you.
I have my own process for working, and it doesn’t involve outlines or being babysat. (Though if you really want to babysit, I have a very independent toddler who could totally use a friend.) It does, however, involve me being really good at my job – both the time management and the writing portions of it. Once you and I are clear on the objectives, I am prepared to wow you with the deliverables.
But if I have to take an hour every day to email you and assure you that I’m still going to work on your project? That’s time taken away from my work day, which includes your project and so many others.
Just remember: hiring me lets you off the hook. You don’t have to manage this project anymore, and instead you can focus on doing what it is that you do best: running your business. Connecting with clients. Maybe getting a massage.
Please know that I’m not brushing you off. I completely understand that this is your business on the line, and chances are, your livelihood too. I know how important it is to you that this project be done well, the first time. But that’s why you hired me, right? To be the expert, and to do the expert things to bring you massive results.
So let me.
Transparency note: other copywriters may work differently. When hiring a copywriter, you should definitely cover how they work, and how involved they like their clients to be in the process. If you really need to be involved at every step, you want to make sure that the copywriter you’re hiring works like that, too. Figuring that piece up front will solve a whole lot of frustration in the working relationship.
Secret #3: I Put Thought Into Your Delivery Date Quote.
If you were to watch me work, you’d realize I can spit out a landing page in a couple of hours. Sales pages rarely take me longer than a day to complete.
But your delivery date is still likely going to be a couple of weeks away.
So many business owners come to copywriters asking for 24 hour turnaround times, or 72 hour turnaround times. While that technically might be possible, it’s not very fair to ask of copywriters, and it’s not taking into account the 36 million things that I do on a daily basis that aren’t copywriting.
These things include:
- Writing proposals for other prospects that I’ve talked to recently
- Writing contracts for you and other new client projects
- Invoicing and collecting payments for recently (or not so recently) completed projects
- Research – for your project, for other projects, to keep up with industry trends, to ensure that the processes I have in place are the most efficient, to see if there’s anything I should be telling you about to make your business life easier
- Coaching clients (see Secret #2)
- Editing my own work, and sometimes other people’s work as well
Oh yeah, and I still have to do the writing for the projects in my queue.
I have a lot on my plate, and I am so grateful that business is going well. But having a lot on my plate does tend to mean that I need some time to get all of these projects completed – not because I’m behind on work, but because I have so much of it.
When I tell you that I’ll need a couple of weeks to turn around a project, I absolutely am working for those entire couple of weeks. Maybe not on writing your project the entire time, but working on the entire host of activities that goes into being a successful copywriter.
Which bring me to secret #4…
Secret #4: I’m Not Just a Writer Who Works In Their Pajamas. In Bed.
I’m a business owner. I am serious about my business, and I am not a business owner because I wanted to work in my pajamas all day. I’m a business owner because I have a passion for my craft and for my clients. I love copywriting, and everything that entails. I love being on top of the game and busting my ass.
So many people want to think that any freelance copywriter just sits in a recliner in sweats and half-heartedly types a couple of letters an hour while watching Game of Thrones. Totally not true for most people, and not true for me.
I’m serious about my work, and that means that I have a lot of work to do to stay relevant and successful.
Yes, I do spend a lot of time writing for clients. A good majority of the time I spend not writing for clients is spent doing the six things I mentioned in secret #3. But wait, there’s more.
I also spend a lot of time prospecting – looking for new clients and companies that I love, because clients don’t work with you forever. And I need to be sure that when one client’s contract ends, I have another ready to go so that I can still pay my bills.
Part of that prospecting time is participating in discovery calls with potential clients, just like the one we’ll have if you want to work together. Let me tell you – I do a LOT of work to prepare for that call. Before we chat, I will:
- Research your company
- Get to know your industry
- Do a little light stalking of your business online.
- Make notes of how I can help
- Think of some advice I can slip you during a call
- Break down what you’re doing really well that we should capitalize on.
After the call, I spend time reworking my notes with the goals and ideas you told me about so that my proposal fits your needs and wants from a project.
Even then, some of my proposals are rejected! Which means no income reimbursement for the time I spent preparing.
On top of that, I have continuing education for myself – books, webinars, podcasts, and reading blogs. I maintain my website, email clients for testimonials, and update my portfolio.
I am a business owner, like most copywriters, and I’m serious about my business. I’m also serious about yours, and the results we’re going to drive together. I don’t do all of this work to half-ass our project, so you should know that I’m committed to you and to your success, because your success is mine.
Secret #5: Not All Copywriters Are Trained.
Some of us (ahem) have been trained in a real-life setting, where we’re consistently using and honing our craft and are under direct mentorship of an expert in the field.
Others…not so much.
That’s not always a bad thing. Too much training can result in “copycat syndrome,” and clients end up paying for a knockoff of the real expert.
But training is typically good when you’re looking for high conversions. Think about all of the materials available to you to learn copywriting – books, webinars, seminars, podcasts, courses, products, freebies – the list goes on. Now realize that all of these same resources are available to everyone, and some copywriters have only ever used these to learn how to write copy.
When you’re looking for a copywriter, ask for their history! At the very least, read through their portfolio. If it’s not immediately clear that they’ve been trained well, perhaps you should keep on looking.
Most copywriters are completely dedicated to their craft and are on top of their game. But it’s up to you to decide what you want to get for your investment – if you’re open to someone who’s a little greener but can potentially still pull big results… awesome! Many of my clients are looking for someone with a proven track record so they’re taking on a little less risk.
So there you have it! A little pulling-back-the-curtain into the world of copywriters.
Sometimes, we copywriters make things look super easy for you, and that’s what we want to do! Ease your burden so you can do the work that makes you excited.
It’s still good to know everything that goes on behind the scenes, though, so you can appreciate that we have your best results in mind, and know that we’re working just as hard for you as we do for ourselves.