How to Find and Work with a Professional Copywriter

How to Find and Work with Professional Copywriter

Transcript 

Kathy (host): 

Hello there and welcome back to Help! My Business is Growing, a podcast where we explore how to grow and build a business that is healthy and sustainable. I'm your host, Kathy Svetina.

 

Kathy (host):  

Mastering the art of communication with your customer is vital to growing business. Even if you have the best product or service ever in the history of humanity, it just won't matter- and it won't sell - if you're unable to tell people about it effectively. The missing piece to that success is copywriting.

 

Kathy (host): 

Copywriting is the biggest weapon in your marketing arsenal. It's a specialized form of writing used to sell, and it aims to convince the reader to buy your product or service. This may sound simple, but it's not because excellent and effective copywriting is both an art and a science. It grabs attention, tells your story, and it evokes emotions while persuades and leads the audience to the sale. So how can you make the most out of your copywriting- and onboard a copywriter successfully - to help your growing business?

 

Kathy (host): 

And just a quick reminder, if you want to go back and take some nuggets of wisdom from our guest today, all the episodes on this podcast, including this one, come with timestamps for topics that we discuss and blog posts as well. You can find the links in the detailed topics in this episode's show notes.

Kathy (host): 

Today, our guest is Samantha Burmeister. She is the Founder and Lead Copywriter of Nomad Copy Agency. Sam has worked on dozens of online service provider launches, many of them earning the clients six figures and more. Ultimately, her goal is to empower entrepreneurs who work to sell more, so that they can focus on delivering the designing the life of their dreams. Join us.

Kathy (host): 

Sam, welcome to the show.

 

Samantha (guest): 

Hi, thank you very much for having me.

Kathy (host): 

I'm super excited that you here because we're going to be talking about copywriting, and what's the difference between actual copywriting and the social content writing, and how to actually go and find the good copywriter because as the business grows, you're going to be also hiring not just the employees, but also people that you're going to be outsourcing things too, and one of them is copywriting. Before we go and dive more into this, I first want to make a distinction of what is the difference between copywriting and any other type of writing like content writing or so?

 

Samantha (guest): 

That's a really great place to start because it is foundational. The easiest way that I find to explain the difference between copy and content is that content is written for computers. We often hear when we talk about marketing about SEO, that it's super important. But content is the words that computers are going to pick up to know what's on that page to be able to push those pages out when they're searchable. That includes things like blogs, oftentimes captions, metadata, etc. Copy is for people. Content is for computers, copy is for people. Copy is what's going to sell, what's going to inspire action, what's going to tell people to click through, etc. On a fundamental level, that's the difference between content and copy.

Kathy (host): 

And what would you say makes it for good copy? Like what are some of the issues that you have been seeing when people come to you? And they say, "Hey, write us this copy for a sales page." And they've already had something before? What are some of the problems that they had on the copy? And how do you like fix that so that it's good? And what is actually a good copy? What does that look like?

Samantha (guest): 

Copy, because it appeals to people, it has to come from some sort of justification. Typically, we look at sales psychology. The where it comes down to design, but really, where are people looking and what is meeting them there when they're looking in that spot? You wouldn't have a headline at the bottom of the page, for example. But we need those headlines. We need things to be catchy. We need things to be tested, too.

Samantha (guest): 

Sometimes people aren't aware of the psychology of what's going on in their minds when they're looking at a page. You can look at something and say, "I like this." But we also need A/B testing and data to tell us why you like it and what you're actually looking at, what you're actually clicking on.

 

Samantha (guest): 

The problems that I see are that it's cluttered and that there's no justification. We see a lot of large text blocks because people love to describe the benefits of what they're selling, but it tends to get long-winded. It's kind of a little laundry list of problems that I see. But basically, there's no justifications. People are just writing what they think is correct, and maybe not what is proven by either psychology or data.

Kathy (host): 

I want to go back to this the whole A/B testing. How does that look like in practice? When you're developing the copy, are you developing like different versions of it, and then you're testing on a specific user group? Or are you just seeing "I'm going to post this or publish it for the next week and see what happens? And then the next version is going to come out the week after that and see what happens." How does it really look like in practicality and reality?

 

Samantha (guest): 

Yeah, with so many things in marketing, the answer is it depends, right?

 

Kathy (host): 

It's your use of life, right? In depends.

 

Samantha (guest): 

It's kind of a catch-22 there. But in the essence, yes. We come up with two to three different options for headlines or call to action buttons or the pop-up that comes up on someone's site when they look at it. We do come up with multiple versions of something and then look at the data, hopefully, then we have data from previous campaigns, and we look at does your audience respond to the first person or third person calls to action. Do they respond in all caps? Sometimes we look at things that are that simple. It's comes to yes, we're kind of coming up with multiple ways to say something. But hopefully, we have a justification or a reason why we're saying things the way that we are in the first place. It's not just throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks.

 

Kathy (host): 

Yeah, that's, that's really good. And I like that you said, throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks because I'm in finance,  I do not do any type of writing. And writing is usually like a black hole for me, right? My idea of a writer, even a copywriter is to sit there and like, "Wait till the inspiration comes and like hits them." But I am sure that I'm 100% wrong. If you could like give us a little bit of a process of behind the scenes, how does that really look like? Because I'm sure that you're not just sitting there staring at the blank screen and waiting for an inspiration to hit you. Right?

 

Samantha (guest): 

Yeah, I mean, like anyone, those moments do hit, and they happen for everyone. To have a slice of humble pie, it happens to everyone, I call it blank page syndrome. Sometimes you have to get up, walk away, take a walk, drink some water, whatever you need to do.

 

Samantha (guest): 

But the process typically starts with notes. I'm a writer, so I always have a pen on me. My notepad in my phone looks silly. I have so many Google Docs in different places where I'm taking notes. I do my best to get things in my clients' voice. What are people telling me? What are the testimonials or feedback telling us that people want to see and want to hear? A lot of times it's pulling words that to me, it kind of feels like cheating because I'm like these words already exist. We just need them written down in the right order, or the right font. Right? Wherever they may fall. But it is a very. It's an art and a science because we do have to look at the data points again, but it is the art of putting those words in the right order, catching people at the right time, and making sure that it all falls in this perfect sequence where it inspires people to take action.

 

Kathy (host):  

As you were talking, it kind of reminded me you're cooking a little bit because it seems to me the process is very similar to this. You have all these ingredients already. You have the testimonials. You have the feedback. You have the data from the previous campaigns. You sort of know what has worked and what hasn't been before. Now, you're just putting all of these different ingredients together into this recipe to bake this new pie or cake or whatever you're making, right? I mean, this really sounds like to me that it's very purposeful. There's still a little bit of- There's art in there too, but very much of a data-driven type of process.

Samantha (guest): 

Yes, it really is. I think when I tell people that when I first meet them, "Oh, I'm a writer", and they're like, "Well, books." And I'd say, "Oh no." I find that incredibly intimidating to just start with a blank page and write something from cover to cover. That's completely a fabrication of my own mind. Copywriting is much more analytical than that.

 

Kathy (host): 

Yep. Before people hire you, the copy that they've had, what type of problem was it specifically that they had? It just wasn't performing well or did they find out that you may just have to be tweaked a little bit more to get the type of result that they wanted? What was that specific type of problem that happened that said, "Hey, I need to go call Sam and have her fix this."

 

Samantha (guest): 

It can be a multitude of things. It can be performed, but it usually means that somebody has someone or a team or however the company is structured, has come up on a limitation to their own experience. Whether that be that they don't have the time or they don't have the expertise to take their sales copy to the next level.

Samantha (guest): 

On teams, that might look like a marketing team that's between do we make a full-time hire? Do we transition our content writers or one of our freelancers over to a copy role? Is the copy that we're coming up with as a marketing team just not sticking and like you said, it's just not performing well, and they need an outside perspective? But it really is just a limitation to the expertise.

 

Samantha (guest):  

Most commonly, I would say that it's the necessity for a third-party perspective, combined with the lack of desire to hire a full-time role, or the lack of knowledge of what you need in a full-time role.

 

Kathy (host): 

And the interesting part here is that I know a lot of marketing agencies have their own copywriters as well. What is the benefit of someone who wants to go and hire a copywriter? They have a lot of options, right? And the same thing with the fractional CFO is you have a lot of options. You can hire an accounting agency that has all of it together versus being with a sole proprietor like myself or with like in copywriting. You can go through a marketing agency that has a copywriter on staff or hire someone who's a copywriter specifically, and that's all they do. What is the benefit of having someone that is a copywriter, specifically, versus having a marketing agency like do all the things for you?

 

Samantha (guest): 

Again, man, it depends. Because really, what's most important there is that you're creating a cohesive team who's working for your goals.

 

Kathy (host):

Yep.

Samantha (guest): 

If the marketing agency has a content writer, but not a copywriter, if they are open to working with copywriters, if they have several contract copywriters that they work with what's ultimately most important is that you're effectively and efficiently working towards the goal of the business, and the goal of every business is the bottom line.

 

Samantha (guest): 

Then, within that, the benefits to hiring outside of your marketing team, though, is that you really get perspective. You get somebody who understands potential trends across the industry or in multiple industries. Copywriters are not just putting words on the page, even though that's our end product is the words on the page. We're keeping up with marketing trends. We're keeping up with sales trends. We understand a little bit of psychology. We typically know and work really well with designers and those teams.  The benefit to hiring a contract copywriter may end up being costly, because you're not paying an agency price. The benefit to working with them is the perspective and the expertise. They're oftentimes hustling.

Samantha (guest): 

There's also kind of this third option of a copywriting agency. It depends on how much content you're putting out. We see the content is king. And again, there's a difference between content and copy. But we see a company is really pushing I mean, three, four or five emails out a day. And at that point, you're not having Sandra in the marketing department writing all those emails, that becomes a full-time job.

 

Samantha (guest): 

As companies grow and scale, then it just becomes is this something that's better hired by something that we're already outsourcing? If you're already outsourcing marketing. Let them bring in their copywriter who's going to work under them. You don't have to do any of the hiring or the vetting or the making sure that they all play well in the sandbox? Or do you bring in an independent contractor? Or do you bring in the agency, a copywriting agency as a contractor?

 

Kathy (host):  

That's a really great explanation. You were talking about vetting there just for a second, and I do want to focus on that a little bit. Because if someone wants to say, "Hey, I'm not gonna hire a marketing agency for this. I really want to hire a copywriter." And I have gone down that hole myself. And there's like a ton of people out there to do copywriting. You have a lot of different options. I mean, you can go on Upwork, you can go on Fiverr, which I would not recommend because you can get the various levels of success there. Let's just keep it that way. Although you can find some really great people as well. But it's the quality spectrum is very long.

 

Samantha (guest): 

But how do you go and vet someone as a copywriter? What are some of the things that you would look for? I know when I was looking for someone. I really what I was concerned about is I wanted to know if they can do two things, one if they can go and speak in the voice of my brand. And two, what type of materials have been produced before. Those are the type of things that I looked for. But what is your perspective on how you vet someone like that? Because it's really hard because writing is kind of personal as well.

Samantha (guest): 

It is. It really is. Typically, if you're hiring a copywriter, you've already worked with a strategist or somebody who has helped you define your brand. I know that sometimes the startup world works a little bit differently where it's proof of concept and then branding comes later but so there's a few things to look out for.

Samantha (guest): 

The first one really being a brand voice and asking for proof whether that's social proof. Give me some testimonials, telling me what other people are saying about you. Can I speak with a previous business owner that you've worked with? It can be tough to ask for proof of a campaign, especially if it's an email copy. Because sometimes that is the intellectual property of a previous company that they worked with. So things like websites or public domain. Anybody can look, and you can say, "Hi, I created XYZ.com. Here's an example of my work. This is our Click-through rates."

 

Samantha (guest): 

But I think what's probably most important is asking if you can have the data and a good copywriter is going to be super into the data. Because that's their credibility. They're going to be able to say, "I wrote the copy for these Facebook or Google ads that converted at XYZ. The cost per click was this much. And not only that but saying that before they came in it was this and after they left it was that because there's a lot of variables that go into email marketing. And there's a lot of variables that go into those sales pages. Did you switch platforms and add SEO? And this that the other and just happened to have a copywriter? Or can you prove that the copy was a direct contributor to the change in sales, click through whatever action was encouraged there? So that kind of encompasses two things right; their brand voice, as well as the research.

Samantha (guest): 

And then also having a really candid conversation about time expectations. Creatives, we don't work 40 hours a week. Can you imagine sitting down and just writing for 40 hours a week? And you I could put words on a page for 40 hours a week.

 

Kathy (host):

But are they going to be good?

Samantha (guest): 

Yeah, yeah. Would they be inspired? Would they be my best work? No. So also having those expectations of is this something that you can turn around overnight, like, we have computers, not magic ones. If we could automate this, if we could create an algorithm that could do this, we would be selling it. It is something that really has to come from and in flow through us to be able to be created. I think also setting those expectations. It's sometimes it can be from the copywriters' perspective, a big red flag, if they say, "This is a high energy, fast-paced environment. Is there room for me to take a walk and gather my thoughts before I put them down? Or do you need this yesterday?" You also have to think about that from their perspective as well. If you're launching a new product and can communicate those deadlines, early and deadlines, pricing, are they going to charge for research? Or is that something that's included? All of those things should just be discussed upfront, and somebody who has experience in the field will be able to have that conversation. It's not an uncomfortable one.

 

Kathy (host): 

You brought this interesting point out there. And I've seen this trend happening very recent, and it's the AI-driven copy. The copy that is done by artificial intelligence. And actually, I just read recently, an article that Google is that is against their policy for people to have AI-driven copy on their websites. I wanted to ask you like, what do you think of that? Do you think as a copywriter that AI copy is a threat to the entire industry? Or is it something that might enhance how you're doing, what you're doing right now? Or is it just not compatible? Have What's your take on that?

 

Samantha (guest): 

You know, I don't have a strong opinion on it. I love technology. I love what it's capable of doing. I love FinTech and writing for IT and software and SaaS companies. I love seeing what it's capable of. I think AI is super cool. I don't think we've crossed a threshold yet where you can't tell. If anything, it might sound like someone who speaks English as a second language wrote it. I think it's really interesting what it's able to do. But I do think that at the end of the day, there are these intricacies.

Samantha (guest): 

And again, it comes down to that psychology side of things that, you know when your eye catches a billboard that you think is really clever, and you read it and you have to read it twice. You know when you come across that website or that subject line that just hits different. And I think that is the magic that can only be made by the human brain right now. I don't feel like it's a threat to copywriting. I think there's definitely probably a place for it in content, especially in blogs and things that need to be produced more quickly. But I still the ones that I've seen really do need to be edited by a person.

 

Kathy (host): 

Yeah, and I've played with that in my own business as well using some AI copy because I'm kind of a tech geek myself. I really liked to see the new things coming out and I like it from the sense that it can spark interesting ideas and thoughts to build on but not something that I would want to just produce and just crank out the material and say, "Hey, this paragraph was completely written by AI." It seems like it's more like keyword stuffing and SEO driven than anything else at this point. But like you said, there's it missing that human touch and that human creativity that spark.

 

Samantha (guest): 

Yeah, definitely. I mean, even some of the news that we read is written by AI. It's fascinating, especially since minor league sports reporting in mainstream newspapers is mostly written by AI. That's my understanding, from what I know. I can't say for sure. But the folks that I've spoken with at the Associated Press and elsewhere have said that that's very much the case and that it's developing. But that, again, is more of content and journalism than it is affecting true sales, copy, action, and inspiration.

Kathy (host): 

Yeah, the true psychology that needs to happen behind it, and there's a spark that's, "Hey, I need to at least have a conversation with a human to figure out whether this is a good product or service for my business." Right?

 

Samantha (guest):

Yeah.

 

Kathy (host):

I mean, it's fascinating. And I've been watching it for a while now. And I'm really interested, in how it's going to develop, but we'll just have to watch your space and see what happens, right?

Samantha (guest):  

Yeah, definitely. It's fascinating. I have a vast appreciation for what people are able to create. It's super beneficial to smaller businesses, to be able to create that at a lower budget, for sure.

 

Kathy (host): 

One of the things that you mentioned is that it really helps to have a defined brand voice when it comes to copywriting. And obviously, the content as well. But we're talking about copywriting in this conversation. What happens if someone doesn't really have that defined brand voice? Because I know that some companies, especially at the beginning, they have not really invested much into figuring out, what does my brand voice sound like, and what is our vision. What is our mission? How do we communicate that through our texts, through our voice? What do you do in those cases? Do you have like interviews with the owner interviews, with like the employees? I mean, how do you get that feel for the brand voice when there really hasn't been one before? Or maybe that they have had, but they've been really trying to define one. But there's so many people that have been writing that it's kind of like a jungle of all these voices, right?

 

Samantha (guest): 

Yeah, definitely. I understand the need for in the push for content. And then they people go out and hire a boatload of freelancers. And then like you said that there's this amalgamation of voice that comes back.

Samantha (guest):

I think that I could be so bold as to say that it's irresponsible to not give those people a brand voice to adhere to and a certain expectation or SOPs, or one central person managing that everything comes out uniform. But sometimes that's, again, helped my business is growing, that might not be the number one priority. So that's completely understandable.

Samantha (guest):

For me, I always encourage people to speak with a marketing strategist, I have folks that I can refer my people to and say it would be beneficial to nail this down. I also have a process that I can either deliver to them or at least define a brand voice for myself. It just depends on what capacity we're working together in. But it is very intuitive for me. There's a million questionnaires and questions that you can ask and deduce but again, if it were that easy, there would be an AI that did it for you. And I know that there are programs out there where you say, "I want my brand to be adventurous and defined and stern and this and that." It'll put together something for you. That's a great starting point, too. But typically, if people have a brand I can pull from their branding documents already, they'll have worked with someone they'll have filled out questionnaires, I can look at that. I can ask my own series of questions. But it does ultimately end up becoming what is intuitive to me, running that past them and helping them understand and define that for them.

Samantha (guest):

And then leaving some space open for that discussion, because they may also be learning more about themselves as a brand and understanding. "Oh, heck, as we move into a new market or a new demographic or a new psychographic, maybe this is something that we should shine some light on and consider, too." A copywriter is not an order center. We tend to be very consultative. And we serve best when we can be seen as an advisor and somebody who not only takes orders, but someone who can ask questions and who can be asked questions is really where we shine is on our ability to be strategic.

 

Kathy (host): 

Yeah, and what I've experienced too because I've hired copywriters for my business before it really is a process. You think that there's only a couple of paragraphs that they're writing, but there's so much that goes behind it. And like we've discussed a couple of minutes ago is there's a whole process behind that, too. And what I have noticed for me is, as soon as I developed a brand voice. I've actually had a couple of word documents out there that talks about what are some of the phrases that I use. What are some of the phrases that I don't want people to use, completely avoid them? Even things that I have, it's like the type of emojis that I use, as well, because they're very specific, and how they're used to. That's something that I give every single time people write for me. Whether the copywriters, content writers, whatever they are, I give them this packet of hay. This is the brand voice. These are the rules of the game so far. And I always appreciate actually, if the copywriters and content writers come back and say, "Hey, maybe this is not what you want to be using, because it doesn't really, it's not congruent with what you're trying to portray." That's where that consultative space comes in.

 

Samantha (guest):  

Yeah, and you make a really good point too, with the types of emojis that you're using, because it depends on who your demographic is. It might your brand voice might be different for different areas of your business. A good example of that is that Gen X will often, in texts say "LOL", millennials will text with a laughing emoji face, and Zillennials or Gen Z will reply with the skull face.

 

Kathy (host):

Interesting.

Samantha (guest):

Yeah, I mean, so like dying; dying of laughter, 'haha'. And something as simple as that can be like, "Oh, this was made." If somebody older than me saw the skull, they would be like, "I don't know what this is. This doesn't feel made for me." If a 20-year-old saw that in some financial documents, or in a caption on Instagram, they'd be like, "Oh, this feels-" Without even processing, "Oh, this feels right for me." They would know that it was written for them.

 

Kathy (host): 

I love this example. Because this is so interesting. It's the words that you're using, not just the words you're using, but also the other, the imaginary using, the modules that you using everything goes into how you're speaking to your client, to your customer on the sales page or on the content. And this skull emoji, that's definitely new for me. I had no idea. If I saw that, I would be completely puzzled. Yeah.

 

Samantha (guest): 

Yeah, yeah. And what a world that we live in that we're discussing emojis as copy, but it's totally relevant and it's something that, again a copywriter is going to ask you before you work together. Are there words that you do or don't use? Different words can be a word that's overused triggering, but different words can be triggering in different industries. Different emojis can speak differently to people. Yeah, in that's an art and science thing right there.

Kathy (host): 

When you've been hired as a copywriter? Is there something that your clients can give you that will really, not just speed up the process, but we'll make this easier? We talked about having a guideline for the brand voice, the testimonials, and in any type of copy that they had before. Is there a packet that they can give you that it's going to just make your job so much easier? What would be in that packet?

 

Samantha (guest): 

Copywriters and designers love to work together because a lot of times we're asking the same questions. If you're having a landing page designed or a set of email templates designed. Typically, you can hand one or the other one's questionnaire, info packet or branding statements, or whatever it may be. And they will be able to work from that as a starting point.

 

Samantha (guest):

The second thing is, and again, you hire a copywriter to save you time, but often it takes time to save time. And you cannot expect this person to jump in and look at your previous blog posts and then understand how to write about a new product that you're offering. We are great, but we do not mind readers and so it does take time. I'd say offering them as much information and as up-to-date of information as you possibly can.

 

Samantha (guest):

Offering them your time to jump on a kickoff call, take the time to really if they send you a questionnaire, and take the time to fill it out and be as detailed as possible. Take it home with you and work on it. Work on that questionnaire, as you're in a comfortable environment and when you're in an environment where you're ideating about what you want your business to be and where you want this next offer to take you. You know fill it out and you're inspired because the best gift that you can give is your time.

 

Samantha (guest): 

And I think the final thing is to give them freedom. If they come back to you, and they say, "You know, here's where I have an idea. I think that we could add emails, put in a pop-up, we could, whatever" because again, we're constantly working with strategists and designers and marketing teams and analysts. And we've seen what other people are doing and offering your copywriter that freedom to be as involved as they care to be, is really only going to serve you in the end.

 

Kathy (host): 

Yeah, these are great tips. I usually ask every single guest that comes on this podcast is like, what is the next step that people can take in the next week something simple, something easy, if they want to implement that in their business? If someone wants to go and hire a copywriter because they need to do a sales copy? What is the next thing that they can do to ensure that they have a really quality copywriter? And that they're prepared for them? But what would be the one thing?

Samantha (guest):  

Yeah, what you said right at the end is to prepare for them. And the best way to do that is to understand what your goals are, not only in hiring a copywriter but in the result of what that copywriter is going to work on. If you want to launch a new website that's going to reach a completely new demographic and make waves in the industry, then you need to scale that back to "Okay, so I need this person to, then do what." They're going to have to capture a new brand voice. So we're going to need some brand strategy from them. And we're going to need landing pages and emails and Facebook ads or whatever that backtracking might be. But like you said before, you go on Google, you go on Instagram, you go on wherever you go and search for copywriters, and you will be overwhelmed. When you know what you're looking for, you will know what to ask people for. And that's the number one thing that people can do is to understand; the first step is to understand what it is that you're looking for, from your copywriter and from the project as a whole.

 

Kathy (host): 

Awesome, Sam. This was a great conversation. I really enjoyed it. You give us so many great tips on how to find the right copywriter. And how does this look like how the process looks like. It shines a light for me? As I said, I know you do magic. I don't know how you do it, but you do it. So where can people find you?

 

Samantha (guest): 

Yeah, I am a millennial. I'm on Instagram @nomad.copy. And you can find me online at www.nomadcopyagency.com.

 

Kathy (host): 

Alright, thanks so much for being here, Sam.

 

Samantha (guest): 

Thank you. This was lovely.

Kathy (host): 

Thanks so much for listening to today's episode of Help! My Business is Growing!  Next week, it's all Wittman of Witt and Company.

Kathy (host):

Also, if you love this episode, you can find all the timestamps, show notes, blog posts, and links on the website, newcastlefinance.us/podcast.

 

Kathy (host):

And before I go, I do have a favor to ask. If you listen to this on Apple podcasts. If you could please go to the show and tap the number of stars that you think the show deserves. Because it helps other people find it too. Thanks so much. Until next time!