Tag Archives: online copywriting

What do you understand by copywriting?

There are many writers who cannot/do not draw a distinction between copywriting and content writing. Originally the word “copywriting” comes from advertising whereas, content writing, as far as I know, is a more recent terminology mostly used for creating online content. Although I might be wrong because even for newspapers, magazines and even course books, what you do is write content. Anyway, about copywriting.

Copywriting is basically content written to promote a product, a service or an idea. Copywriting can be done for a website, for a radio advertisement, for a print publication advertisement and for television. In copywriting you have to come up with highly engaging, entertaining and contextual content whose primary purpose is to increase sales or promote an idea. Writing blogs and information articles cannot be called copywriting, but it surely is content writing. Even on your website whatever content you publish that prompts your visitors to do business with you is copywriting, including your sales copy.

The thought came to my mind that although I’m writing content for various business websites, I never draw a distinction between a home page, the primary pages and information pages, although I charge more for the homepage and the primary pages (product descriptions, services, profile, about us etc.). A big reason perhaps is that the client is not bothered about what I call it. He or she simply wants text that helps him or her sell more. But if the client really wants to appreciate the criticality of the content he or she is publishing on his or her website, then he or she must understand the fundamental difference between content writing and copywriting.

Copywriting is about selling

As I mentioned above, the primary purpose of copywriting is to sell/promote a product, a service or an idea. It can exist in the form of a story that eventually leads its audience to the final goal – purchase of a product or a service or an endorsement of an idea. If you simply produce text then it is called sales copy and when you write it for audiovisual advertisements you call it a script. Since copywriting helps businesses sell, some copywriters can ask exorbitant amounts of money for coming up with even a couple of paragraphs. Copywriting does the job of educating the audience and selling the idea at the same time, although selling the idea is of utmost importance.

Content writing is about informing

From the perspective of websites, content writing paves way for a more effective copywriting, or vice versa. You first inform your audience with content writing, and then you sell your product or service with effective and compelling copywriting.

So which is important, copywriting or content writing?

Going by the amount of money charged by copywriters, I would say copywriting is much more important compared to content writing, but this doesn’t mitigate the role of content writing. If your audience is not informed it is all the more difficult for your copywriting to work.

Am I a copywriter or a content writer?

I can wear both the hats, I mean that’s why I’ve been writing sales copies and I always write the homepage when I take on a content writing assignment. On the homepage the primary purpose of your content is to engage the visitors, inform them as concisely as possible, and get them hooked to your website. The text must be informative as well as entertaining. It must be created keeping in mind the core audience (techy, geeky, spendthrift, miserly, etc.). It must be able to convince. I manage to achieve that.


Increase your influence with your content

Especially on the Internet people need to trust you, respect your opinion or your judgment before they show some eagerness to do business with you. This is primarily because they might be sitting halfway across the globe with no idea whether you are real or phony. They cannot even look at your face or the place you do business from.

In order to become familiar to them you need to do something that draws them to you on a regular basis and the best way of doing that is publishing authoritative or interesting content. Two things need to happen here:

  • Your content needs to be regular
  • Your content has to be of great quality — it must deliver some value

So that people trust you and become familiar with your presence, your thoughts and opinions you need them to come to your website or your blog repeatedly. Now, they are not going to visit your blog or website just because you want them to. You have to give them a reason. You need to constantly publish content that delivers value. You need to provide what they are looking for. You have to figure out what your target audience wants and then publish content accordingly.

This is where content strategy plays an important role. It helps you identify your target audience and then formulate and publish content accordingly.

How does this help you increase your influence?

By regularly publishing content on the related topic you become an authority figure. Without charging you are providing content that is valuable. You are solving people’s problems without charging them. It doesn’t mean you are targeting freeloaders it’s just that in order to build an audience you need to create a presence and nobody is going to pay you for creating a presence for yourself. You need to do this on your own without expecting people to pay you. You can also take such an example from television broadcasting. Have you observed how a new TV channel does not show advertisements? It’s not that they are following a no-advertisements policy. In order to get advertisements first they have to build an audience and they can only build an audience if they broadcast quality programs over a long period of time.

When you publish content on a specific topic for a long duration you develop a consistent audience. They visit your website or blog regularly, they bookmark it, they subscribe to your RSS feeds and e-mail updates and they eagerly click on the links belonging to you whenever they come across them on social media and networking websites. When this begins to happen you have increased your influence. Once you have increased your influence people are ready to do business with you.


Does your content tell a story?

We all love stories don’t we? They excite us, engage us, attract us, fascinate us, antagonize us and motivate us. Whenever there is a story we have readers and listeners. Why do stories captivate as so much?

We can relate to them. They strum the chords of our emotions, attitudes, sense of wisdom and life experiences. We share the emotions present in the story one way or the other. That is why we all have our own indigenous folk tales, anecdotes and historical stories; they bind us together.

Stories can exist in any form. They don’t always need to adhere to a particular form of narration. Even a journalistic account of some event unfolding can be a very engaging and enlightening story. This is precisely why free press is curbed by authoritarian and repressive regimes — effective storytelling can move people into doing things they otherwise would never do.

The same concept can be applied to content writing and copywriting. Whenever you are writing you are trying to move people, you are trying to make them do something. Create a story around the product or service you are offering or describing so that people can empathize with you and really absorb its importance.

When you tell a story instead of a monosyllabic harangue about how great your offer is you get your readers’ undivided attention because whenever we are reading a story we always want to know what happens next. Remember the last time you read a page turner? How eagerly you wanted to know what lay ahead.

Of course not all of us are storytellers but describing a product or service in an interesting manner can be easily achieved by creative content writers and copywriters. Your story needn’t always have esoteric characters; you just need to have a theme and you can center your writing around that theme.

When I’m looking for a solution, frankly, consciously, I am not interested in reading a story. I want to know how this particular product or service can solve my problem that I am facing in my business or in my personal life. A story can definitely help me visualize. It gives me a three-dimensional picture of exactly how your offer can make my life easier — it has a live example I can relate to.

Another great benefit of creating a story is that it has a beginning and then an end. The beginning can be the initiation and the end can be a business transaction that takes place between your visitor and your organization. By storytelling you can change the event of buying a product or service into an experience. It is difficult to remember events and it is difficult to forget experiences.


Are you setting goals for your content marketing campaigns?

Without goals we have no direction and this can be applied to content marketing too. When you set up goals — whether big or small — you have a direction and when you have a direction you know exactly what you have to do and what you should avoid doing.

How does setting goals make your content marketing more effective? Let us suppose in the next four months you want to increase your search engine traffic and you don’t just want any traffic you want traffic that converts, that generates business, revenue for you. Once you have decided that, you figure out what sort of traffic from search engines would have a better conversion rate? Obviously the sort of traffic that is looking for what you have to offer. So write down somewhere what exactly you offer.

In my case I offer online copywriting and content writing services. Very good! Incidentally there are thousands of online copywriters and content writers on the Internet and there might be 10-20 content writers and online copywriters whose links appear before my link on the search engine result pages for appropriate keywords and search terms. In such a case scenario I can do three things (through by content publishing efforts)

  1. Beat my competitors in the search optimization game and make my rankings better than theirs
  2. Target those keywords that are less competitive but that can get me a fair amount of business
  3. Generate content that significantly improves my conversion rate

The first option is obviously good but it may take a very long time and I don’t want to spend lots of money. The second option on the other hand is quite achievable. It won’t take much time and it will give me enough breathing space: I can get business and along with that I can also keep improving my website content for more competitive keywords and search terms.

Having a good conversion rate would also be very important for me because as much traffic as I get I would like to generate enough business from it. Since right now I won’t be able to attract thousands of visitors everyday to my website I would prefer that my content has a higher conversion rate. For me this would be my goal and I would generate all my content keeping this fact in my mind.

You may have another goal. Your goal may be getting lots of exposure on social media and networking websites and you may generate content accordingly. For this you will need to know what sort of content creates buzz and goes viral on social media and networking circles. This way you have a direction.

Simply dumping content on your website or blog doesn’t help you much. You must set clearly-defined goals for your content marketing strategy.


Is it true that an online copywriter shouldn’t charge according to the time he or she spends on the project?

I recently read on another blog post (by a relatively well-known copywriter) that online copywriters commit a fraud by charging or quoting their clients according to the time they are going to spend on the projects. I think it depends on the situation and the kind of project you are working on. I mean you cannot impose your own way of working on other people and if they refuse to toe the line you label them as frauds.

Of course a well-established copywriter charges less for the amount of writing he or she does and more for the value he or she brings to the table. But not every copywriter or content writer is in that position and neither does every client understand this concept. They simply want their writing jobs done. This is not an ideal situation but then we don’t live in an ideal world.

Clients come to you either through reference or directly. If they know you and if they are aware of your reputation (and your rates) they consciously make a decision whether they want to work with you or not. In such a situation when they are paying you they are actually paying for your work. They want you to deliver them what you’re known to deliver to other clients. They are not paying you for the time you’re spending on their projects, they are paying you for your experience and reputation. In such a case it doesn’t make sense to talk in terms of an hourly rate.

On the other hand if your clients come to you by simply looking for a copywriter or a content writer you both have to quantify the work in terms of number of pages and number of hours and there is nothing wrong in that. The clients aren’t bothered what a big shot copywriter you are; they just want a couple of pages written and if you don’t write them they can easily get them written by that guy in China or Pakistan, all said and done.

Does it mean in terms of your career you put yourself in a vulnerable position? Certainly and I don’t advise you to get in a position where you can be easily replaced. But hey, even if you are currently in such a position the main point is getting as much work as you can and delivering quality to your clients even if you have to work on a single page.

Then gradually you build your brand and people begin to recognize you. Once they know what value you can deliver you can charge for the value instead of the effort you’re putting in.