Q/ Why do I need a freelance content writer for my website?
An experienced freelance content writer understands how to communicate key messages in a succinct way. Most business owners have a very good idea of what they want to say, but they sometimes over-complicate things – especially when writing content for their websites. On top of this, they sometimes make grammatical mistakes, forget all about 'signposting' (giving visitors a clear idea of where they are and where to go next) or they simply overlook some of the basics. For example, they might:
1/ Write web content that is boring or downright confusing. I've lost count of the number of websites I have arrived at and found myself asking, "OK, so what exactly is it that you do?"
2/ Fail to develop a 'brand tone' (tone of voice). As a result, visitors aren't sure whether they are dealing with a serious brand, a fun brand, or something else entirely. This is especially a problem when a company has different people writing different parts of their websites, their marketing campaigns and so on. To the customer, there's no cohesion. No single voice.
3/ Forget to regularly update their website with relevant keywords.
4/ Fail to build up a body of work that demonstrates expertise in their market.
5/ Neglect to come up with a compelling and clear Call To Action (CTA). As a result, the visitor has no sense of what to do next.
A freelance content writer with knowledge of writing for websites can help a business owner create crisp and compelling copy for their website – as well as helping advise on what pages to include, blog content/content marketing strategy and more.
Q/ Is a freelance content writer and a freelance copywriter the same thing?
Not really – but there is some crossover. Copywriting is a job which has its roots in advertising; copywriters historically are creatives who use words to convey a message that will form the backbone of advertising/marketing material. Advertising copywriters like this do of course still exist, and are behind most of the amazing ad campaigns you see today.
Content writing, by comparison, can be as bland as "written content to fill a hole on your website" – but it can be a more appealing hybrid of user-friendly, informative article writing plus the kind of persuasive/creative wordplay that copywriters engage in. The result is content designed to inform, entertain and inspire action all at once.
For my own part, I have a history of both creative copywriting and also article writing. By merging the two I can deliver easy-to-read web content that also seeks to inspire people to take a certain action, such as moving forward to another web page, making contact, signing up to a newsletter and so on. Alongside this, I can help with a business' content marketing plans – by coming up with ideas for original, insightful articles aimed at helping potential customers (thus adding authority to your website).
I also handle pure copywriting assignments – coming up with creative ways to get a message across, such as for email marketing campaigns and social media ads. I don't offer the (costly!) full 360-degree service that a major, all-singing, all-dancing ad agency – who typically partner copywriters up with a designer and an account manager – can, but for startups and SMEs on more modest budgets, I can help.
Q/ Someone said I need a 'tone of voice' for my website. Why?
It's not just your website – it is your whole comms package. Think about all of your favourite brands. Innocent smoothies, for example, have a very distinct and singular tone of voice for all of their communications. Each touchpoint – from their packaging to their website to their social media postings – features content that seems to have been written by the same person. This is because Innocent have a well-defined tone of voice.
Settling on a tone of voice can be a great way to breathe life and personality into your brand. Customers love to feel they are connecting with the businesses they buy from on a personal level, and a tone of voice that really speaks the customer's language can forge stronger connections and loyalty.
More than this, having a tone of voice can be a great way for a business owner to "feel" his/her way through the trials and tribulations of launch and, hopefully, the continued growth of the business. If you truly know what your business stands for and, by association, its 'voice', it can help not just with comms but with decision-making as well.
A freelance copywriter can help you unearth this all-important tone of voice and provide guidelines relating to how you can ensure its consistency going forwards.
Q/ Do I need a blog for my website?
According to the much-respected digital marketing guru Neil Patel – among many others – the answer is a resounding yes. When a business regularly adds blog postings over a period of several years, it steadily allows that business to amass relevant content on a wide range of subjects relating to its sector. In doing so – and assuming the articles are helpful to readers and well-written – this helps to establish credibility in the business' chosen field, which Google typically rewards by boosting the site's rankings. It's one of the cornerstones of SEO.
A copywriter can help with blog content by making sure that it is well-written, well-researched and contains appropriate keywords... whilst, at the same time, reading 'naturally'. Google doesn't like blogs that are stuffed with keywords and have clearly been written with SEO ambitions in mind.
What Google ultimately wants when someone goes looking for "green energy" or "small business finance" or whatever sector you are in, is to lead them to the best websites on that subject. If your content clearly demonstrates that you're a force to be reckoned with, then Google should – in time – push people your away accordingly.
Q/ Do you know anything about my industry? If not, why would I hire you?
Excellent question! I probably don't know anything about your industry at all. But the strange thing is – I usually don't need to.
Let me explain...
My time is split between copywriting and content writing for websites (and, from time to time, magazines). I've been doing this for more than 20 years, and have written about literally hundreds of subjects. Often, when a brief comes in, I don't know anything about what I've been asked to write about.
If that sounds daunting... it isn't! I know from experience that by researching the topic and finding the right experts to talk to, I can uncover the information I need to write a great article. If I were a true expert in that field, there's a chance the article would become too technical and assume too much knowledge of the reader. It's why editors, content managers and business owners hire me – they know I can turn a tricky subject into an interesting read that will be accessible to all.
This approach also works when it comes to blogging. I have written business blogs on a regular basis for businesses in the hospitality, creativity and medical sectors, among others, as well as helped to create web content for clients who work in fashion, luxury travel, recruitment, advertising, healthcare, retail and more.
If I think your sector is too baffling for me to grasp, I'll tell you straight away – and yes, that does happen. Often, though – as it says on my homepage – I just 'get it'.
More proof that your writer may not need to be an expert in your field? Here are a few persuasive words from The Content Marketing Institute: "Often, a skilled writer is more valuable than one who is knowledgeable about a particular subject. That’s why you can actively look for writer candidates from all types of content places. Unless you’re producing content which is extremely technical or requires deep domain knowledge, judge potential hires on the quality of their portfolio rather than what topics they’ve written about."
I can't do it alone, of course. I lean on the business owner's expertise – or, as stated, that of external experts – to glean the information I need that will add authority to an article or a website's written content. Content writers like being thrown in at the deep end... so long as their feet still touch the floor.
Q/ Where do you work?
My clients are across Europe and, indeed, the whole world. And basically... it all just works. Many of my business engagements last a week or less, which makes face-to-face client meetings unnecessary. Everything can be done by email, phone or Zoom – it saves time and money.
At present, I work as a freelance copywriter and freelance content writer for clients in the UK, Belgium, Finland, Switzerland, Ireland, the US and Sweden. I have also written web content in the past for businesses based in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, Australia and Canada.
Q/ Do you do copywriting for email campaigns or video content?
Yes. I handle marketing email content for a client in the retail sector, and have also just completed a video script for a company in the virtual real estate space. There are a multitude of instances in which a client knows roughly what they want to say, but don't have the time, inclination or, perhaps, the skills to do so. This is where a freelance copywriter comes in. Give me a try!
Q/ How about business writing?
Yes! For the past seven years I have been a business article writer for a number of well-known outlets, including major UK bank NatWest/RBS, the international website Business Insider, small business finance specialists IWOCA and Be The Business, a UK 'movement' aimed at boosting business productivity.
Alongside this, I write about industry news for companies in several different sectors, including accountancy, FMCG, forestry and construction.
The content I create is usually intended for the web, and more often than not will take one of the following formats:
A 'how to' article, which involves sourcing and interviewing experts and then turning their thoughts and my own observations into helpful content that steers SMEs and start-ups in the right direction. I have covered topics as diverse as marketing, cash-flow, recruitment, investment, cyber security and dozens of other subjects.
A listicle, in which I round up the best examples in a given category, be that apps, accounting software, gadgets, travel destinations or something completely different.
A reported article in which I speak to several key players within an industry and then deliver a topical story to be used on a business website – often about that firm's own involvement in that sector.
A Q/A-style interview with an industry leader, CEO, business founder or similar. I have interviewed well over 1,000 people during my career and can turn an interviewee's words into clear, concise copy. No matter how rambling!
Alongside this, I still occasionally write articles for magazines, though the world of print has changed over the past decade and this isn't an area I actively pursue any longer. Please email me to find out how I can help your business find the right words.
Q/ Do you have any copywriting tips for business owners who want to give it a try themselves?
Sure. Start by working out your tone of voice. Find three words that you feel best sum up the way you want your business to come across.
These need to be authentic and believable – if you're just starting out, then words like 'authoritative', 'global' and 'respected' probably won't be accurate. Play around with the words until they feel right. Once you've settled on them, use these as a kind of North star for all writing that follows. Every time you write something – be that web copy, landing page material, a Tweet or whatever – quickly run it through your three-word filter. If what you're proposing to put out there doesn't sit well with your three words, try again. By sticking to this golden rule, all of your copy should have a consistent tone of voice.
Other suggestions? Here's five...
1/ Start with your customer. What is the specific problem in their life right now that your product or service sets out to fix? Think also of the added value that your firm offers compared to a rival. If you're both selling hand-made greetings cards, what makes your business better from a buyer's point of view? If your research has revealed that buyers of hand-made greetings cards often wish that they could have the name of the recipient written on the envelope in beautiful writing, think about offering that. If you know what your customer wants, you have a good chance of explaining to him/her why your business is the one to choose.
2/ Find a simple message. What is the simplest, most direct way to describe to people what you do? Yes, you can be creative, but tread carefully. A cryptic main headline on a website that says 'Big questions, answered' isn't going to let Google know what a firm is doing nearly as well as 'London's top lawyers' would. The latter would rank far better.
3/ Write copy that talks directly to the reader. Generally, copy that talks about 'you' rather than 'we' is going to resonate more with a buyer. For example, the second example here is likely to have more impact than the first:
'We're a reliable business partner with the best supply of laptops in the UK'
'Whatever your laptop needs, you'll find exactly what you need with us – the UK's leading supplier'
Always try different versions to see which reads best – run them by a few colleagues or friend for feedback. If you have the option, A/B test them online as well.
4/ Remember keywords. If you're working on web copy, it's essential that you make the most of keywords so that Google will get a clear idea of what you do – and rank you accordingly. You can definitely overdo keywords (too many of them read really badly), but there are ways to get important words and phrases in your text and headlines while keeping the copy readable. Check out the websites of your best rivals to see how they do it.
5/ Proofread! Before you unleash anything on the public, have your go-to grammar and spelling guru give it a thorough once-over.
Q/ If I hire you to write content for my website, do I need to keep on using you going forwards?
Not at all. Some business owners come back to me again and again and have been hiring me for years; others just needed some launch copy for a website. It all depends on what you're looking for. Let's say you currently have a website and want a freelance copywriter / content creator to come on board and help freshen up the site. I can help with things like:
Homepage copy. What's that killer, knock-out line on your home page that will really make people "get" your brand and feel an affinity with where you're coming from? Your 'above the fold' content is arguably the most important thing to get right on your whole website.
About Us page. How do you tell your business story in an interesting way in a just a few hundred words? What are the key points? What will resonate with readers? What's the best way to tell this story? A freelance copywriter who has experience of writing for websites can help with this.
General flow. How is everything linking together? When someone is on page A, how do you get them to go to page B? Is the signposting clear? Is someone making sure that the customer journey is straightforward, logical and pleasant? I can advise here, too.
Blogs. I can help you build up a body of work that shows people how much you understand your market. Working with you to tap into your knowledge of the sector, I can help illustrate your expertise and bring this directly to the reader with hints, tips, how-to guides and so on. The aim is to position your brand as both helpful and authoritative so that people come to rely on you.
Product descriptions. There's only so many times you can write an original description of similar products, but experienced content writers can dig deeper into the well than most people.