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.
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. I can even create Facebook ads, LinkedIn posts and so on using Canva (design has very much run in parallel to my career for 20+ years).
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.
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 cynically 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 way accordingly. If you want to become an expert on SEO copywriting and have time on your hands, do check out Neil Patel's work and take a look at the ever-excellent Brian Dean at backlinko.
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.
My clients are across the UK and Europe and, now that I come to think about it, 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.
Yes. I currently handle marketing email content for clients in the retail, training and business consultancy sectors, and have also just completed video scripts for companies in the virtual real estate and green energy spaces. 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!
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, business 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 the 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 dramatically 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 publication find the right words.
Yes: don't do it! It's very easy to get it wrong. Still want to give it a go? OK – start by working out your tone of voice. Find three words that you feel best sum up the way you want your business to be perceived.
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 really 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 – though it's pretty dull. The trick is in balancing the factual with originality.
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 below 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 friends for feedback. If you have the option, A/B test them online as well. Remember – you're trying to stand out, and also to show that you can fix your customers' pain points.
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, and take a look at this blog for a beginner's guide to keyword research.
Before you unleash anything on the public, have your go-to grammar and spelling guru give it a thorough once-over.
No! Some business owners come back to me regularly and have been working with me for years; others needed some launch copy for a website and were happy to take the reins once the work was handed over. 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 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 help you here.
Blog writing. I can help you build up a body of SEO-optimised 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 more. The aim is to position your brand as both helpful and authoritative so that people come to rely on you (and Google ranks 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.
Once a client has given me a brief and I've delivered the work, we go through revisions and the sign-off phase and then my job is done – if that's as far as the client wants to take it. Often, though, they ask me to keep a light touch on the steering wheel and check in every now and then with updates and suggestions. Plus once they've seen and liked my work, it's quite common for clients to ask me to come up with Instagram posts, Facebook ads and other pieces of marketing material on a regular basis.
But I can certainly leave a client with a well-running machine that they can manage alone. Even blog writing might be something a client feels confident to take on once they have a few pointers and a bunch of examples to refer back to.
To sum up, I have helped clients who wanted nothing more than half a day's work on their website; I have also helped clients who needed total content plans for large, comprehensive websites followed by advice and written content on an ongoing basis. Whatever works for you!
Ah, the $64,000 question. The truth is: we're all different. A top-end copywriter who has worked for a large agency and is now working as a consultant can charge upwards of £1k a day (and then some!). I'm more affordable than that – though not as wallet-friendly as an entry-level copywriter.
Please just drop me a line and we can talk about some potential costings for your project. If you're keen to have a baseline figure, then website work, for example, typically starts at around £600.
That's a question that no writer thought they would have to answer a few years ago. But honestly? Today? The world turned at the end of 2022 with the arrival of ChatGPT.
Here's the bottom line – you can try using AI to create content for your website or marketing material, but you need to intervene to make sure it is 'humanised' and doesn't annoy Google. That's actually something that a freelance copywriter can help with – AI is indeed a way for us to speed up certain processes... in some cases.
In March 2023, one of my more progressive and switched-on clients asked me to create content for him using ChatGPT to see if it would expedite the process. It did. I shaved about 40% off the total time needed to write the kind of blogs I had written for him before.
Why did it not shave off 60 or 70%? Because everything takes time! To begin, I am a pretty fast writer, so ChatGPT had to beat me on that score, which it easily did. But I also had to think about what to ask the AI software so it would give me usable copy.
The copy that came back was mostly fine, but it then needed editing, a few things needed to be checked (a couple of 'facts' were completely wrong), and I had to run it through a plagiarism checker.
In this instance, then, it was a success of sorts. And that's my general feeling on ChatGPT: you can use it to create copy in certain circumstances.
It's why I suggested that we use it a few weeks later for another client who needed a large volume of landing pages. The first few I had written were time consuming for me to create, as I didn't know the sector well. So I asked if he wanted me to give Chat GPT a go.
He agreed, and I estimate I managed to halve my time and, hence, halve the amount I needed to bill him. But here's a couple of thoughts:
1/ There are lots of reasons why I wouldn't use ChatGPT to create copy. If you want a great homepage, for example, I have little faith in ChatGPT coming up with something original, tailored, arresting etc. Chat GPT also doesn't use my pro SEO tools or bring years of creative thinking to the party (yeah! That's a thing!). So for those really important pages, I wouldn't touch AI with a barge pole. I wouldn't use it for a brochure, either. Or a clever sales page. In fact, there's quite a long list.
2/ I would only suggest trying ChatGPT to a client in those circumstances where I think it may help me to deliver what they need more quickly and, hence, at a more affordable rate. Most of the time I am booked up 3-5 weeks in advance, but if the copy required is sufficiently functional as to warrant AI intervention in order to get the job done swiftly, I'll try it if you want to. Maybe.
3/ Let's not forget that there's a possible risk that Google will turn round at some point and say, 'Hey, we're going to penalise AI content now,' so transparency is key. At the time of writing, AI-generated content that had been through a human editing process wasn't being penalised, as far as I can tell.
4/ Long-term, I think ChatGPT may help in as much as 20% of client engagements. It's best suited to clients who have a tight budget; who want high volumes of content; and who need copy that is more functional than creative. But please don't think that giving you usable copy that has AI at its core is a five-minute job. Sure, it speeds things up, but if you want copy that doesn't read like it was thrashed out by a computer, it will need a serious edit - which is where a seasoned copywriter comes in.
Let me know if you'd like to have a chat about all this!