Companies on Recruiting Sites Need to Stop Doing This - Like Yesterday
As a copywriter, I constantly come up against the same problem:
I'm hired as a copywriter - and I end up writing all the content. And the copy, almost always, takes a backseat.
OR I run a master class for writing copy, and people think they're going to learn how to write blogs.
OR I see job opportunities on LinkedIn or other job sites titled Copywriter, but the spec outlines the job a content writer would do ie write blogs, thought leadership pieces, press releases.
It happens a lot. People hire copywriters. And then they want their copywriters to write their content. This is deeply problematic. And it's problematic for a few reasons:
It makes your copywriter unhappy
A lot of copywriters don't enjoy writing content, unless it's their own
The client is wasting their money
Content doesn't convert the way copy does so copywriters will never hit their KPIs
Copy and content have to work together as part of a strategy - and strategy is a whole other service
What a copywriter is not...
In the words of the great Joanna Wiebe, a copywriter is not...
As a copywriter, myself, I would not do this work for free. I am not lucky to have a job. I do not pick up the slack on every writing project. I do not do annual reports. I do not do PR. No.
No. No. No.
In the words of Wiebe, again, I am...
'a well-paid copywriter who writes high-converting copy using a proprietary process based on studies in human decision-making.'
Everything in your business that is sold, is sold with copy. That is very, very important to understand. That is why I'm writing this 3,000 word post - because too often people in the hiring process seem confused.
How? Like this...
1. Job Title: Creative & Digital Copywriter (Beauty)
Amongst the expectations in the role...
Blog writing - researched, SEO, brand tone of voice, ‘how to’ and educational content
Packaging copy - clear and compliant copy for instruction manuals and packaging.
Amongst the expectations in the role...
Collaborate with colleagues in the planning of, and taking the lead in the delivery of, the content pipeline including thought-leadership (blogs / social), whitepapers, reference projects, guides and news articles.
Edit and proof content written by colleagues from the central marketing communication department or from local marketing specialists
Degree in Communication, Journalism, Public Relations.
Project management skills and experience with external agencies (e.g.: translation agencies, Web agencies).
3. Content Writer Needed
Amongst the expectations in the role...
The ability to write engaging web copy
Copy vs Content - Know the Difference
I've been working as a copywriter for over a decade - and in almost every single contract I take on, I come up against the same problem. Many, many people conflate the ideas of content and copy. They are not the same thing. And the problem with this conflation is that it's almost always going to end badly.
When you hire a copywriter, the single most important thing they have to do for you is make you money. That's the aim. That's the end goal. If they don't make you money, then your relationship with them has failed. It's as simple as that.
So, the copywriter's focus should really be on any and all writing that will bring in the dosh:
CTA buttons that pop off the page
What they definitely should not be focusing on:
Weekly social media content
If you're a copywriter reading this, and someone hires you to write their copy, and then insists on you writing all their content, they're setting you up for failure.
And if you're a business owner and you hire a copywriter, but you insist that they write all your content, then this is going to be you in a few years:
Let's go deeper, shall we?
WHAT IS CONTENT?
Content is information.
Content is all the stuff that you write to get people to your site. It educates. It inspires. It can entertain (but it doesn't have to). It's often creative (but doesn't have to be). It answers questions.
It uses stories, anecdotes, reasoning and data to teach people about a specific issue or idea. Content is vital for a business because it establishes the business's brand voice - it shows your audience who you are. It gets people to think about new information - and it might even get people to change their minds about something. Or reconsider their worldviews.
Content doesn't have one specific outcome in mind. Mostly, it's purpose is to engage people. And when done properly it is very, very powerful. According to Hubspot, more than 70% of marketers invest in content marketing as of 2020.
Why? Because it's the perfect way to get your brand out there. It's the perfect way to introduce people to who you are, what you stand for, and what you believe in. Content is so powerful, in fact, that according to Forbes, a user won’t even discover your business if you’re not creating it.
Think about it.
If all of your competitors are creating content on the regular, and you're not...who's going to lose out? You. Because, as Bill Gates said, Content is King. Are you wearing its crown?
Anything you publish is content:
Social media posts
The consumers of your content can read it, listen to it, watch it. It's meant to grow your reach, increase engagement, establish new prospects, and get people talking about you. It's supposed to get you top of mind. It's supposed to be insightful - that is the end goal. So, all those makeup tutorials, cat videos, how-to articles...all content.
Not all content is King
It's worth pointing out that not content is good for business. Some content is just noisy - and very often it's not useful in any way, shape or form. If you are going to create content, it's important to consider its purpose. And it's important to have a strategy. Consumers are smart and they can see through content that is simply created for the sake of it. Always ensure that your content is creating value.
Ah, the three little letters that strike fear into the heart of many. Here's the thing:
A really good content creator and content writer is going to have a certain level of expertise in SEO. These writers are valuable and they will do good things for your business. Remember, if you're investing money in your content, you want to make sure you're getting eyes on it. SEO = ROI. Boom.
Ideally, Your Content Should...
Be SO value-packed that it makes you a little bit sick when you put it out into the world
Be enjoyable - it should NOT sell and it should NOT read like an ad or an advertorial
Attract your ideal customer - write for people, and write for the people you want to sell to. But don't sell to them. Make sense?
Never be created just for the sake of it - you want peple to read it and go 'OMG this person knows their stuff' so that they keep coming back
EXAMPLES OF CONTENT
Ebooks and white papers
WHAT IS COPY?
Copy MAKES MONEY
Where a piece of content is created to simply inform, and have you consider a different viewpoint, copy is specifically created to persuade you to BELIEVE that viewpoint, and then have you take action. It doesn't need to provide reasoning, conjecture, relevance, or facts. Really good long-form copy will include these components, but it doesn't have to.
Copy takes the reader on a journey - it leverages emotion. It explores pain points. It challenges objections. It turns you into its bestie - and then it asks you to take action. The action it asks you to take is always singular, and it can involve you parting with money, but it doesn't have to. It might ask you to subscribe to a newsletter. Or click a button to learn more.
Copy sells by identifying with pain. Copy is not about educating. It's not there to teach you or entertain you. It's there to sell to you. To persuade you that you need something, and then convert you into a buyer.
Joanna Wiebe, again:
'...in copywriting and perhaps in all things marketing and sales, your goal in demonstrating is first to identify your prospect’s pain. From there, you further qualify if your product is a good fit to solve the pain.'
EXAMPLES OF COPY
Calls to action (CTAs)
Ads, online and off
Slogans and taglines
Web page content
Television or radio commercial promotional and advertising scripts
Direct mail letters
When a copywriter writes copy, they are identifying with pain in order to sell a solution. Copy is about persuasion and conversion.
DIFFERENCE AT A GLANCE
CONTENT should be educating, content is about 'features'
COPY is about benefits
CONTENT is a long-term strategy
COPY should convert people immediately
CONTENT analysis happens over time
COPY analysis can be quite quick (especially for email)
HOW DO THEY SERVE EACH OTHER?
Because, actually, the two go together like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong.
And this is why you want to hire a content writer AND a copywriter who are as badass as they come. Yes, the two can overlap. You can absolutely have a piece of content that has a call to action at the end of it - sign up to my list! Download my freebie! Follow me on the Gram!
But there is a fine line between the two.
And if you're serious about your business, you want to generate equal parts of both of them.
You want content that is going to grab the attention of your ideal client. You'll want to woo them with this content, make them fall in love with you. And keep them coming back for more - turn them into a superfan, if you will. Once they're hooked, you begin the copy process. You start to sell to them. You have to know where the line is between content and copt and you have to be consistent across the platforms you're using.
Do You Need Both?
Yes. If you're a business owner, who is serious about making money, you need both.
Let's explore a client I work for at the moment. She's a Lean expert - but on crack. Like, she takes Lean to a whole new level of amazing. So much so, that she doesn't even consider herself a Lean expert. She's moved passed Lean into something altogether quite beautiful. She is all about connection. And this is hard, as a copywriter, because it means that selling, for her, is a tricky thing. If connection is the absolute end-goal, how do you sell anything?
That's my job as a copywriter.
So, our strategy is to create content that is 100% based on connection. Value. Generosity. We create content that teaches, asks questions, explores ideas, and ultimately helps people to think about their role as leader in new and transformative ways. Her weekly newsletters are story-driven and they are mostly focused on providing as much value as possible - always driven by heart and connecting stories in her life to a bigger picture of purpose and people-centered leadership. And her numbers?
Since employing this approach to her newsletter writing, we've seen her open rates and click through rates go through the roof. As I write this, her last email had an open rate of 58.7% and a CTR of 16.4%. That's with a list of 2,721 recipients.
The more we connect with the people on our lists, the more likely it is that they are going to see us as someone they can trust. They will want to learn from us over everyone else. And that means sales, baby.
In creating content that connects, we're able to create copy that converts.
Always remember this...
Content is wonderful. It's the absolutely undisputed way of getting your voice out into the world and connecting with people who want what you have to offer.
It's also a giant waste of time if you're not leveraging it to sell.
Now, as someone who works in the selling sphere every single day, here's something you need to know - selling is good. Selling is normal. Don't be afraid of selling.
Your copy is what is going to sell you. And if you're not creating eyeball-popping, brain-twisting copy, then your content creation is going to waste. Your content is what pulls people in - your copy is what gets them to take the action of signing up to your list, opting in to your free offer, or buying from you.
So, here's a question:
Are you writing articles that people would love to read, but you're not getting the traffic you want?
Think about the following things:
Your headlines - are they engaging? Do they make the reader sit up and go 'Oh, hello. I want to read this.' If not, people won't click through to consume your content.
Your headlines - again. Are they too clever? Your headlines should communicate some benefits to the reader.
Your content has to be rewarding to the reader. Is it teaching them something? Are they learning from it? Are they being entertained? Does it make them laugh? It doesn't have to do all of these things - but it must do one of them. What is the benefit of your content to the reader?
Does your content build trust? I'm all for content that makes people think - hell, I love subversion. But...at the end of the day, your content needs to translate into subscribers, followers, or customers. Is your content creating trust?
Have a call to action - this is so important. You want your content to get people to do something. And yes, this is where you leverage copy in your content. Do you want readers to sign up to your newsletter? Click through to a sales page? Follow you on Instagram? This is where your copywriting skills come into play. Remember, copywriting is the art of persuading your reader to do something; to take an action.
Copy vs Content: The Final Word
Content is your business's best friend. It's going to get your business, and you, out into the world and say 'HELLO WORLD, IT'S ME, THIS IS WHAT I HAVE FOR YOU.'
Really good content is going to make some people say, hell to the yes, I need this in my life.
Really good content is also going to make some people run a mile from you and your brand and never come back.
You don't want your content to attract everyone. You want your content to attract people who resonate with you. Who see themselves working with you at some point in the future.
Once your content has attracted your ideal prospect - copy converts those leads into sales.
And remember: the two can absolutely overlap. If you write a webpage (copy) that tells the reader something new, that would be considered content. But, in the process, it's also creating conversion. In fact, conversion is the primary goal. That makes it copy.
A blog post (content) almost always seeks to inform - but it may have commercial objectives (copy).
A blog post is also constantly asking the reader to keep reading. So the headlines would serve as copy, but the paragraphs would be content.
See? rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong.
Take a look at the damn quiz I created: Which Grammy-winning pop star are you? It's your first step to creating content that feels totally aligned with your business. And let me know who you get! I got Beyonce. I’m buzzing to hear your result!