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.
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.
3/ Forget to regularly update their website with relevant keywords.
4/ Fail to build up a body of work that demonstrates expertise in their chosen field.
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 copywriter and a freelance content writer the same thing?
Yes and no. 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. Freelance (and salaried) copywriters like this do of course still exist, and are behind some 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 article writing plus the kind of creative wordplay that copywriters engage in. The result is content that will 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 these two skills 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 creating original, authoritative articles aimed at potential customers.
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, how it speaks, 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 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.
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 will 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 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 and content managers 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, advertising... even a stuntman.
If I think your sector is too baffling for me to grasp, I'll tell you straight away – and yes, it does occasionally happen. Most of the time – as it says on my home page – I 'just get it'.
More proof? 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 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?
From home. My clients are across Europe and, indeed, the whole world, and basically... it 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, WhatsApp, Skype 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 and – further afield – Dubai and Singapore. I have also written web content in the past for businesses based in Australia and Canada, and worked with an agency in Los Angeles on a series of radio ads.
As I have a decent grasp of French, I have recently helped a number of clients with a French-language website to convert it into English. Nothing ever translates directly (sorry, Google Translate!), so a freelance copywriter and content writer who understands French can be a godsend to a business that needs a bilingual approach.
Q/ Do you do copywriting for email campaigns or video content?
Yes. I recently finished a month-long series of marketing emails for a client, and have also just completed a video script for an advertising agency. 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 skillset to do so. This is where a freelance copywriter comes in. Give me a try!
Q/ How about business writing?
For the past five years I have been writing business articles for a number of outlets, including major UK bank NatWest/RBS, 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, maritime 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 their 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.