Don’t hire a copywriter just to ignore their advice

Light bulbs - comparing copywriting with electrics

Would you ever call in an electrician, get him to fix the problem, then decide you can do it better yourself and start playing around with the wires?

I’m guessing not (unless you have a death wish).

Now, while you can’t really compare copywriting to electrics, the point I’m making here is that if you’re going to hire a skilled professional, you should be trusting them to do their job well, or why bother requesting their help in the first place?

Trust us, we’re copywriters

It seems obvious, but you’d be surprised by the number of clients us copywriters work with that seem to think they know best.

I’m not saying that clients don’t have and shouldn’t give feedback and opinions. Of course they should, it’s their business so they need to be happy with the words. But, when they start tweaking chunks of the copy they are paying a copywriter to write, it’s frustrating, to say the least.

Part of the problem is that everyone today thinks they can write. Which, on a basic level, yes, most can string a have decent sentence or two together. However, copywriting for business is a very different kettle of fish to your average piece of text.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Copywriting isn’t just an art; it’s also a science.

When a customer or potential customer reads your website, brochure, or whatever piece of marketing material it may be, they behave in certain ways. They scan, they look for benefits, and they’re pulled in by emotional hooks that speak to their specific needs. They are also looking to be guided to the next step e.g., read more, get in touch, buy now, etc.

Cast aside what you think you know

Unfortunately, many clients aren’t really tuned into this.

I mean, it’s not their job, so fair enough. But it is a copywriter’s job. We spend hours swotting up on the latest stats and trends, looking at the data, checking out the most successful campaigns, and doing our audience research. This means we’ve got a pretty good idea of what will work and what probably won’t.

So, while a client may have their own preconceived ideas about the kind of information they want to include, or how it should be written, they often don’t take these things into account.

Case in point

I had a client a few months ago, for example, who wanted copy writing for his website. It was only a small job, just four pages or so, but it included the homepage, which, as any copywriter knows, is the most important bit to get right.

Alarm bells should have gone off in the beginning as he was pretty uncommunicative and barely gave me anything to go on. However, I put all my creative and business-minded skills to work and then submitted the first draft of the copy to him and asked for his feedback.

Tumbleweed. After a few more emails, I gave up and he paid up, so all good. Recently, however, I checked out the site and cringed. While a lot of what I’d written was there, the homepage had been hashed.

Now, I’m not just being proud here, but I did want to throw my hands in the air. He’d reworked the main heading, played around with the copy so it was all about them rather than the customer (a massive no, no) and removed the all-important call-to-action. Eek. Definitely not one for the portfolio now.

The frustrating thing is, he was entitled to two rounds of revisions. So if he’d have actually shown me his changes, I could have given him some advice on why it had been written in a particular way. We could have then tweaked things together and probably got him better results.

Ah well, you can’t win them all. But it has got me wondering why some people bother paying for a professional if they think they know best?

Another case in point

I also have another regular client, and whenever I submit a piece they add their touches (it’s ghostwritten, so it’s meant to be written by them). However, every time I request that they send it back so I can check it and proofread, they don’t. Instead, I find the odd spelling and grammar error in the bits she’s tweaked and published.

The editor in me cannot handle. Errors look bad to clients and reflect badly on your business. Again, take advantage of me. You’re not only paying for my words but also my expertise and advice.

Work with us, not against

If you’re going to hire a copywriter, I urge you to do these three things: communicate, communicate, communicate with them at every step, work with them not against them, and be a bit more trusting in what they have to say.

If you do want to make changes, let them first tell you why it was written in that way as it may make you change your mind. If it doesn’t, it can, of course, be changed while still keeping the science in mind. And if you really can’t agree, it might be best to part ways.

So the moral of the story is, if you think you know best and play around with a copywriter’s words too much, you might just be burning your hard-earned cash.

2 thoughts on “Don’t hire a copywriter just to ignore their advice

  1. This! SO much, all of this. It’s incredibly frustrating when someone has recognised that they need to hire a writer, but then think they know better. They probably do… about their company, and their industry. But what they need to do is impart that knowledge and entrust it to the hands of a wordnerd who can shape it into something that works on a technical and readable level.

    Copywriters often have this gripe, so we sound like a whingey bunch! However, I entirely understand where you’re coming from with this – we’re specialists, we’ve trained in our field, so hire us to do our job and don’t think you can become a copywriter overnight once our work is in your hands. It’ll never end well!

Leave a reply

%d bloggers like this: