There are a lot of myths about copywriters floating around and I feel it might be time to straighten a couple of things out.
Copywriting is a bit of a ‘secret’ occupation, so it’s understandable that there’s a lot of misunderstandings about the profession. So let’s take a look at some of the most common myths about copywriters.
1. Copywriters protect your intellectual property.
Nope. Those are copyrights.
Copywriters write the stuff that copyrights protect (though copywriters usually forfeit all rights to their content once the client pays for it).
Copywriters write the words that businesses use to sell their goods and services. They write anything from brochures, flyers, sales letters and emails, to websites, social media posts and landing pages. If it sells, there’s a good chance it was written by a copywriter, and even if it wasn’t, it’s still called ‘copy’.
2. There’s no point paying for expensive copywriters when I can just hire someone cheap on Fiverr, Upworks etc.
Sure, you can do that if you want to. But don’t forget the old adage ‘you get what you paid for’.
While there may be some great writers to be found in content mills, they are few and far between. Many of these writers are just starting their careers, and are willing to accept pennies for experience.
Alternatively, many of these cheap copywriters come from overseas. You’ll find many copywriters online who don’t have a very good grasp of English, and even those who do may have very little understanding of the culture and society of the country you’re selling to.
While, yes, technically you could hire someone cheap on Fiverr, you can’t expect a $5 copywriter to produce work of a $500 copywriter.
If good copy is the difference between $10,000 and $10,000 000, then a couple of extra dollars is nothing compared to the returns you can expect.
At the end of the day, when it comes to hiring a copywriter, you need to ask yourself how much your business is really worth.
3. If you can write, you can be a copywriter
This is one of the common myths about copywriters that just won’t die.
A copywriter is not just a good writer. A copywriter is a marketer who uses words to sell. Great copywriting is a powerful blend of writing, marketing, psychology, research, empathy and good old-fashioned charisma. Throw SEO into the mix for a truly delicious cocktail of skills.
If you want good content for your blog, technically you can hire a decent writer and get reasonable results. Be warned though, a decent writer is unlikely to have any understanding of target markets, content marketing strategies or SEO.
Being a great writer is a phenomenal skill in itself, but if they don’t understand marketing, they aren’t a copywriter.
4. ‘I know how to write. I don’t need a copywriter’
This touches a bit on my previous point.
Just because you can write, doesn’t mean you can write successful copy. There’s a whole lot of things that go into copywriting, and if you don’t know how to find the balance between great writing, and words that sell, your copy is going to fail.
If you do understand best marketing practices, then by all means, write your own copy.
But remember, you’ve got a business to run, and splitting your time between running your business, and writing all your marketing material puts you at risk of burnout.
You can’t be everything. You have to be willing to outsource to others, and the best work to outsource is copywriting.
While you may be good at writing, a copywriter is an expert at writing to sell. It’s highly likely that they can get the job done to a higher standard, and in half the time too!
Don’t forget, as a business owner, there are a lot of tasks that already demand your attention. Copywriting isn’t one of them. By hiring a copywriter, you give yourself time to breathe, and more time to focus on the other important parts of running your business.
Exhausting yourself by trying to wear too many hats isn’t going to be good for your business. By hiring a copywriter, you’re ensuring that you remain the best business owner you can be.
Myths about copywriters such as this are not only damaging to copywriters, but outright exhausting for business owners. You don’t have to do it all.
5. You need to credit your copywriters and content writers
It’s a copywriter’s job to represent your brand in their writing, not themselves.
Quite often copywriters work from the shadows. Many don’t request a byline unless they’re a figure of authority in the field.
It’s always best to discuss this with your copywriter, but I never expect to be given credit. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll never turn down a good backlink, but it’s just a part of the deal. When you buy quality content from a professional, you’re buying the rights to the content as well.
As I said, you may have to take this up with your copywriter, but no, you’re unlikely to need to credit your copywriter unless you really want to.
6. Copywriters charge by the word or by the hour
This varies from writer to writer, but as a general rule, many resist a by-word or by-hour rate.
Because neither word count nor time have ever been a particularly good indicator of value or quality.
Many of the more skilled copywriters are lightning fast because they’re experienced. In fact, a slow copywriter is far more likely to be newer to the profession. If you insist that a junior copywriter charge by the hour, you might find that you are the losing party in that arrangement.
By the same token, charging by the word is hardly a reliable measurement of quality. Sometimes a five word tagline can take a week to write, while a 1,000 word article can take just hours. Word count says very little about value in copywriting.
As a result, many professionals choose to charge on a project-by-project basis.
This means that rather than putting a dollar value on hours or words, you’re paying for the true value of the content. A short form piece of copy may stand to make you tens of thousands of dollars, while a 5,000 word article may make you a couple of thousand. The work should be valued accordingly.
7. Copywriters should work for free
You may be able to find a beginner who will work for free, but you’ve got to understand that you’re acting as a test case for your beginner copywriter.
They’re going to make mistakes, and they may even discover that copywriting isn’t for them and quit.
Sure, perhaps you’ll luck out and find a great beginner copywriter … but don’t expect them to work for free for very long. Be realistic. Free work is a temporary arrangement while new copywriters find their feet.
There’s nothing wrong with taking on a beginner and giving them the opportunity to gain experience. Just expect that at some stage they’re going to want to be paid for their work, and you should never begrudge them that.
Remember that your beginner copywriter is a beginner. Don’t expect professional quality from a fledgling.
There are a lot of myths about copywriters which can be quite damaging to writers and the businesses who hire them.
By understanding the profession and what you can expect of your copywriter, you can look forward to an honest, transparent and much more productive working relationship in the future.