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What Not To Say To A Freelance Copywriter

As a freelance copywriter and digital marketer, I love my job. I bounce out of bed every morning, ready to see what the day holds. 99% of my clients are an absolute joy to work with and of course it helps that I’m my own boss.

However, in any profession, there’s always that 1% and so instead of moaning on Facebook, I’ve put together a handy list of what Copywriters want you, clients and colleagues to know.

busy-man-at-desk

Most Freelance Copywriters Hate it When You Say:

I Could Do It Myself if Only I Had Time

This implies that our job is talentless, that anyone can carry the label of copywriter and we’re akin to your cleaner. You’ve got a dirty job you don’t want to do so you pass it onto someone, who you think won’t do it as well as you (admit it- these things always go together), to save you getting your hands dirty.

In reality, our job does require either a journalism, marketing or English degree, sometimes backed up by a deep understanding of consumer psychology. When you tell us this we know that you’ll either:

  • Love the work but feel jealous that you couldn’t produce it so will play it down
  • Love the work but believe you could have done a better job and so resent paying the invoice
  • Change the work so much that it’s barely recognisable at the end and we’re scared to put our name to it.

Which leads me to:

My Girlfriend/Partner Could do it but I Feel Cheeky Asking

But we know you won’t feel cheeky asking her to look over it and then sending her cutting opinions down the grapevine as you tell us what you (she) thinks we should change. Never mind your own opinions, that of your staff, your girlfriend once won a story writing award in school so she must be right. (This is not sexist the same applies to boyfriends). It’s odd that the girlfriend NEVER tells the copywriter directly what she thinks is wrong.

It Just Needs a Bit of Oomph Adding – It Will Take 2 Minutes

This means it needs a complete rewrite and a whole new personality inventing for the brand.

I Could Get the Articles for Half Your Price but I Like Your Style of Writing

Please feel free to buy articles for half my price, I’ll see you in a month when you realise why they are so cheap.

You Are So Lucky to Work from Home

Pal, this isn’t luck, this is blood, sweat and tears, working round the clock and living off bread and beans for weeks. We made a LOT of sacrifices to be able to do the job we love and we’re not complaining we just know, not one iota was down to luck. It’s a pinch of talent, a dollop of tenacity, a spoonful of humour, a withdrawal of humility and a bucket load of hard work.

If I Cut Out Fifty Words Will the Price Go Down?

Sure, would you ask the same when buying a car? “Just leave a wheel off and cut the price by 25%”

It’s the same theory. No matter how many words, (although yes, product descriptions cost less than full web pages), if you cut it to save money, the copy won’t work how it was intended.

It’s All About Me

*head in hands* There is a rare breed of clients that sell products or services on the internet and somehow believe that their website is their portal for telling everyone about their lives.

This includes personal blog posts, telling people about their weekend on sites selling shampoo and sharing their music taste with visitors when they’re trying to convince them to buy plumbing services.

If you’re a celebrity, a life coach, or a person of interest then yes, let’s make it about you. If you’re selling something other than yourself, please let’s focus on the products/ services and your actual customers.

Top Tip: The only person that will read your blogs about your weekend is your mother. Customers will be put off as they only want to know if you can deliver what they want for the best price on time.

Someone Told Me I Should Use Keywords

A little knowledge can be destructive. If you’re a trained SEO expert, that’s great. If not please trust that your copywriter has adequate SEO training to do what’s best for your brand. We will research your target market along with keywords but we’ll also produce copy that doesn’t get flagged as keyword stuffed spam. We keep up to date with every Google update so you don’t have to. We’ll happily work alongside your SEO team but if you ask for 5% density we’re outta here.

Think about it, there is only a handful of ways any copywriter can entwine Find Cheap Cleaning Company UK into the copy without it looking completely ridiculous.

I’ll Pay On My Invoice Terms Not Yours

We send an invoice to be paid immediately on receipt. You tell us you pay your invoices every sixty days. We should accept this? Sometimes, when discussed beforehand with larger companies this is fine but otherwise, consider this.

You walk into Waitrose, you buy a trolley load of food. You tell the checkout person you’ll pay in sixty days after the food has been eaten. How does that work out for you?

Think of other scenarios:

  • Your car at the garage – try to get your car back from it’s MOT when you tell the garage they have to wait sixty days
  • An auction you won on EBay – will the item be there after the sixty days has passed?

We’re doing you a huge favour by not asking for 100% BEFORE we deliver. Your job takes time to complete and once submitted, heaven forbid, we do expect to be paid. Please don’t order work from us unless you have the money available in the bank already.

As a freelance copywriter, not an agency, I do curse when I spend a good portion of my day chasing invoices to pay my own freelancers. It’s not on guys, not on at all.

Can You Just Replace the Word Egg with the Word Sprout, 254 line down, Page ?

Even the best copywriters make mistakes, these mistakes are usually in the form of a typo, a missing s or an automatically corrected word that is now in the wrong context. I make a point of reading through everything I write, twice, before sending it to a client and I like to think that as a previous editor of a publishing house, I can pick out any errors. I’m not infallible though and sometimes a single typo will find its way through.

Of course, any amendments are always free, I wouldn’t dream of charging for changes but sometimes, I do think, couldn’t you change that yourself?

For instance I recently produced a LOT of copy to one client. The only criticism they had was that I’d used the word egg to help readers visualise the size of a foetus, when she thought the size was more akin to a sprout.

Now, instead of changing this one word in a 10,000 word paper, she sent the document back and asked me to change it. Not only this but she crossed out egg in green (using the font colour changer, not track changes) and added comments in blue underneath along with the word SPROUT in capitals, bold and italics. I had to remove all the extra jargon, change the fonts, the colours and the leaning position, re-save the document, send it back and wait 7 days until she accepted the change.

Why couldn’t she do this herself? Which reminds me, I’m still waiting for payment of her invoice…

All in all we do love our clients as copywriters but sometimes, like every worker out there, we do find the odd annoyance!

Images: Author’s Own

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Martina Mercer is a copywriter and digital marketer working extensively in the eCommerce sector. She won the award for "Working Mum of the Year 2014" and has given eCommerce advice on the BBC and in many magazines. She is the editor of eSeller News and the founder of The Consumer Voice, while still offering business copywriting services to brands across the globe. Working with clients such as Shell, Wilko, Calpol and more, she brings her expertise in eCommerce, sales, marketing and copywriting to her articles http://www.martinamercer.com

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Comments
  • Hi Martina, Many businesses don’t really understand how content and content marketing works or indeed how online sales funnels work. They don’t understand the difference between poor, so so or great content and how it impacts on their web traffic, leads and ultimately new customers and their bottom line. Experience has taught me that until they really start or are prepared to understand content, it can difficult to build they type of relationship that’s required to really deliver on ROI.

  • Martina Mercer

    I agree completely Niall but I have noticed a change of late. Many of my clients, new and old are investing more in quality copy. They’ve seen their sites penalised for shoddy work and they’ve seen mediocre copy sit there unshared. They are also seeing immediate results in the form of conversions when they do have copy that actually speaks to the customer. Inbound marketing is here to stay, we want to be welcomed and we want to feel valued for parting with our hard earned cash. Now we’re getting that smile into the copy, brands need to be backing up ecommerce with great customer service.




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