Tag Archives: freelance copywriting

COPYWRITING AND CONTENT WRITING–WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

CopyContent

For years I used to introduce myself as Karen Dix, freelance copywriter.  Lately, though, I tend to introduce myself as Karen Dix, web content writer.

The truth is, I am both. And I’ve never met a company that at some point or another, didn’t need both copywriting and content writing.

Many people outside of the industry wonder, however, what exactly is the difference between a copywriter and a content writer?

Although there are several differences, the biggest is the overall OBJECTIVE of the writing. If you ask yourself if you need copy or content, you’re asking yourself if you need the words to primarily sell or inform.

COPYWRITING is as old as advertising. Because that’s what it is: the art of producing intelligent, sometimes clever but always persuasive or motivating text for the purpose of selling something or calling the reader to an action. Good copywriting addresses features and benefits of the product it is trying to sell.

Copywriting is subjective. It boldly expresses opinions, makes an argument and takes a side. The subject of the copy is unequivocally, “the best” and the definitive answer to the problem for the reader.

Copywriters write the words to sell products both online and offline products through:

online iconONLINE

Advertisements (PPC)
Eblasts
Website
Catalog Descriptions
Directory Listings

offline iconOFFLINE
Print brochures
Direct Mail
Flyers/Brochures/Marketing Collateral
Advertising (Print, Outdoor, TV, Radio)
Presentations

We’ve all seen examples of ad copy. It takes many formats:

1) Headlines. These brief lines pull the reader into an ad to tell you more and hopefully, sell you something. The ideal headline is targeted at an audience, as brief as possible, attractive to read and makes the reader want to know more. Headlines work in concert with graphics to create an overall impression that captivates the reader. Here’s an example of some advertising headlines that might just keep you reading…

THE BEST JUST GOT BETTER.

INTRODUCING A NEW WAY TO WASH YOUR DISHES.

EAT THIS TO LOSE WEIGHT!

2) Taglines. These are used to describe a company’s services, or identify their brand. Can you guess what company goes with what tagline?

I’M LOVIN’ IT

IT’S WHAT’S FOR DINNER.

DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT.

3) Body Copy  One of a copywriter’s specialties is selling a product in as few words as possible. Printed selling pieces such as brochures, advertisements, sell sheets, direct mail, marketing collateral, websites and even exhibits have space constraints and need concise text. Therefore, copywriters choose their words very carefully.

Good copy attempts to speak personally to the reader. It can appeal to their senses and invoke a longing for the product or service.

Here’s a sample of body copy I recently wrote for a Christian summer camp in Lake Geneva:

Conference Point is located in William’s Bay, WI on Lake Geneva, a summer playground for young and old alike. Comfy cabins feature porches with views of the lake and cool breezes off the water. Together, couples and families enjoy a retreat from the hustle and bustle of work, home and children’s activities and spend time enjoying each other and God’s great creation.

Or just take time for yourself. Settle back in one of the many Adirondack chairs around the grounds and enjoy an afternoon read. Let the sounds of the waves and the rustling trees soothe your mind and soul.

Feeling hungry? Our dining hall has delicious, hearty meals all ready for you, each guaranteed to please every palate in your party.
Conference Point is the perfect, restful getaway!

My body copy was written to inform, but you could tell by my word choice that I was trying very hard to sell the place. My objective was for the reader to see the features (comfy cabins, views of the lake, a respite, dining, etc.) while I alluded to the benefits (time for yourself, soothing natural wonders, time with the family, no meal planning necessary). While I explained, I sold. There was nothing objective about it because the purpose of the copy was to motivate you to make a reservation. The audience for this piece will also be “captive.” If they bother to read the brochure, they are already somewhat open to going there.

CONTENT WRITING has seen an explosion with the millennium. The purpose of content writing is to educate, bring value and as a result, build relationships. If you have a website that imparts valuable content, you can make friends with all kinds of prospective customers who appreciate the information you give them. The purpose is to keep your company name at the forefront of their mind when they need your products and services.

Content is objective. It does not advertise, but offers valuable information that comes from a reliable source. Producing good content can be part of a strategic marketing plan and set the author as an authoritative source in their field.

Content, for the most part, is written for the digital medium and comes in a variety of formats such as:

online iconWebsite Content
Blogs
Digital Press Releases
Social Media Posts
Online Profiles and Biographies
Case Studies
White Papers
Enewsletters

Content is created to be shared. My copywriting example above, which was produced for a written piece, could be shared if the client posts a pdf on their website or social media. However, the original intention of the text or “copy” was to sell the conference within the printed brochure. Chances are it will only be shared (or accessed) by those directly interested in the product, which is in this case, a venue. Copy then, has more of a “captive” audience than content.

Does that mean the copy does not have to be written as expertly as does content? Absolutely not. It must be written just as well, for a different audience and a different purpose. Some folks would argue that the copywriter is under fire for RESULTS since their job is to directly call the reader to action. The content writer, however, produces a piece that indirectly calls the reader to action. They produce their valuable, informative piece of content and release it into cyberspace in hopes that it will be exponentially shared. It could have a call to action, but the real goal here is sharing.

Every day, people share millions of blogposts, social media posts, etc. over the internet with an audience that appreciates the value of the information each contains.

So while both kinds of writing—copy and content—benefit a business, the big question a client has to ask is if they need words to sell or inform. If you’re in business, chances are you could use one or both in your advertising and/or marketing efforts. If you’re looking for a solid, all around writer who is experienced in both copy and content, look no further.  Contact me today.

WHY HIRE A WEB CONTENT WRITER?

A graphic designer recently told me that her clients are often reluctant to hire a freelance content writer for their website.  “Hire-Web-Content-WriterMost of the time, my customers write their own web content,” she said.  I was taken aback, but certainly understood what she meant.  Few clients have the graphic design chops to create their own website, but since everyone “writes”, many business folks conclude that they can write copy for their own website.  And, from the number of poorly written websites out there, it seems this is exactly what is happening.

A freelance web content writer can help you grow your business in many ways and website content creation is just one of them.  So if you can put a sentence together, why hire a professional web content writer to write your website?  From all the possible answers to this question, here are my top 10!

 1. Organization.  As a freelance content writer, I would say 80% of my job is organizing content for my clients. Most web content writers are masters at organizing information.  They should be able to help you create a site map that will make sense to your readers, then use techniques to break your content into easily digestible pieces, like using bullets and subheads.

 2. Focus.  Before they sit down to write, a good web content writer will ask you important questions about your website and your mission that will help focus their words.  They will ask you to identify your target audience and your message.  What do you want them to do? Why should your prospects choose you over your competitors? All the information you give will help shape the copy into a piece that will present your business and its mission as attractively as possible.

 3. Your Personality.  A versatile,  freelance content writer should be able to write in different “voices.” Their work may be very formal for a law firm’s website, ethereal for a faith healer’s website, or fun and playful for a recipe blog.  They recognize that part of their job is finding the right tone for your content and they will work to produce content with your particular brand voice.

 4. SEO.  Search engine optimization means using different techniques, including strategic keywords, to get your website found in the search engines.  Good web content writers will know how to incorporate these keywords into your content and may even be able to help you with keyword selection.

5. Pizzazz.  Some business owners know their website copy is missing something—someone may even have told them so–but they just can’t put their finger on it.  Often, they are just missing a professional’s touch.  A solid writer can provide exciting work that flows, is easy to read and engages the reader.

6. Brevity.  You could say, “It is important to write succinctly in a website because writing that is too abundant in words could negatively affect how well the website visitor reads and reacts to the content written therein.”  Or, you could say, “Concise content is more likely to convert website visitors.”  An experienced web content writer will always use the least amount of words needed and get straight to the point so that the reader understands the message and also wants to keep reading!

 7. Clarity.  Freelance content writers are first and foremost, communicators.  They take the message you want and present it in an effective, understandable format that gets results for your business.  

8. Speed.  Since freelance web content writers are experts at what they do, chances are they can do it more quickly than you can.  Even if they are charging a large hourly wage, or substantial lump sum, think for a minute about the cost of your own time.  How long will it take you to do the writing?  What will it cost to have you or an employee engaged in website writing instead of your normal activities?  When will you be able to get to the task? By hiring help, you could stay focused on your core business and get a higher-quality result in a shorter period of time.

9. Feedback.  Ok, most web content writers aren’t graphic designers, but part of their job is to integrate image and verbiage so it wows the client.  Writers pay attention to design, just as designers pay attention to headlines. If asked, your web content writer will be able to offer valuable feedback on your graphic design direction and offer punchy headlines and sidebars that will work best with the design template.  Also, sometimes when we do something ourselves, we cannot evaluate it objectively.  A good web content writer can do that as well.

10.  And most importantly…Conversion.  Let’s face it. The real reason you want people to come to your website is to do something, whether that’s call for an appointment, make a donation or order a product.  Are you sure you know the best way to present information about your products and services that will motivate them to take the next step?  A good freelance content writer can choose words and structure phrases that motivate and inspire.

Ready to write your new website?  Or give your website copy an overdue facelift?  Contact us today for a consultation.

 

How To Incorporate Big Ideas Writing into Everyday Use

How To Incorporate Big Ideas Writing into Everyday Use

When I chose my new freelance copywriting business name, Big Ideas Writing, a trusted advisor pointed out it was a name I would need to live up to.  My inspiration was the concept of the “Big Idea” coined by the advertising great David Ogilvy who explained it as the essential element to attracting customers and getting them to buy your product.  Ogilvy said you have a “big” idea if the idea is so unique the reader gasps when they see it.  The ad works strategically because it is timeless and will work thirty years down the road.  Readers wish they had thought of it themselves.

Wow! That’s a daunting creative challenge that is still pursued in advertising agencies today. But I believe we can incorporate the “big idea” concept into our everyday business writing, web content and marketing communications. How?

1. The “big idea” may not always be a “what” but a “how.”  You may need to describe what your company does in so many characters.  It may seem hard to get the extraordinary into something so ordinary, but the “big idea” here may lie in the approach.  For example, consider words you would like your clients to use to describe you. Or is there a philosophy or mission statement you can incorporate? What is at the heart of your company, the company’s reason for being?  Considering a different perspective can yield the “big idea” on how produce that unique, timeless result.

2. Use “big idea” words.   Some  words are used too often to describe businesses. These are the “bla bla bla” words that we’ve read so often our mind doesn’t even process them anymore; they’ve seemingly lost all meaning. Try to use words that give the reader pause.  If they haven’t heard the word in a while, it forces their mind to take a split second to process.  Consider replacing the “bla bla” words like innovative, excellence and efficient with “big idea” descriptive, picture-painting words.   Instead of “innovative” try “trademark creativity”; “customer-focused service” instead of excellence or “time and money-saving” instead of efficient. 

3. Have a “big idea” for your message.  So you’ve written a great article, or created a stunning communication piece.  You have a great message, now what medium will you use to get it out?  Honor your “big idea” with a plan just as big to spread the message.  Direct mail? Blog? Social media? Make your efforts count among the masses!

Ogilvy said maybe one in a hundred ads contains a “big idea”.  He throws down the creative challenge to us all to execute the very best in our communication efforts.  It personally inspires me to think beyond the obvious and from there, I can create my best work. If you are seeking a “big idea” for your organization, Big Ideas Writing can guide your search. Contact Karen Dix today.