I’m a copywriter. That’s important to this story. You’ll see why shortly.
Before hiring me to help rewrite the contents of their company’s website, a recent client said: “I might just get my son to do it. Next year he’ll be studying media at college.”
“Oh, A Level media studies? In that case, don’t waste your time with me,” the sarcastic dickhead inside me was tempted to say. “In fact, why not have him redesign your logo while he’s at it? (I have an A Level in media studies so I’m allowed to be a knob about it).
Instead, I just politely mentioned that there’s a little more to it than perhaps they thought and, after discussing some of the technicalities of web effective copy and search engine optimisation, they hired me.
This isn’t an isolated case. DIY web copy is far too common.
It’s a plague, or maybe an epidemic. Something like that. The kind of thing the Daily Mail would describe as “a terrifying invasion, stealing all our British money and probably causing cancer”.
Perhaps it’s because everyone thinks they can write. The problem, of course, is that everyone can write.
But everyone can draw too. Except some people can draw stick figures while other people are Rembrandt. Some people can create a few shapes on Paint while others can create literally anything on Photoshop.
The difference is that when you write, it looks the same as the writing of a copywriter, right? Not exactly.
To a writer, your words read like scribbles: errors abound, misguided use of commas, inappropriate keywords, unnatural, boring, strange repetition of words like “basically”, unintentional rhyme, no consistency, etc.
Copywriters often have years of formal education in writing words that sell. Not to mention the practical training, working under pro writers and forking out hundreds of monies for intense training courses.
They keep up-to-date with copy practises and communities of other writers, continuously looking to improve their skills and their knowledge of what draws and engages online audiences.
Plus, anyone who does any of that SEO stuff will be constantly monitoring changes in Google’s (and other’s) algorithm to stay ahead of the game. Essentially, the difference between you and a professional digital copywriter is roughly the same as the difference between you and a professional Photoshop wizard.
You know how great your company’s website is? That’s because somebody awesome designed it. Well it can be even better if you get somebody awesome to write the copy. Unless you have a relative studying media in college, in that case you can totally do it yourself.
Jim Compton-Hall is a freelance copywriter. This blog was first published on The Wall