Monday, April 11, 2011

Cheap Copywriters - Worth it?

Buy cheap - buy twice.

The internet has provided a means for thousands of people to get online, and sell their literary skills, without even having to meet the client. And that's fantastic!

Or is it?

I guess I work that way sometimes so I should be happy, and I am, but what of the people who don't have much of a clue when it comes to writing sales copy? They can bid for copywriting jobs on sites such as Elance and work away to their hearts content - again, great news. But on a website such as Elance, where the "average" bid can be ridiculously low, I wonder how anyone actually makes any money!
I had a quick think and came up with four reasons why:
  1. The writer doesn't value his/her time,
  2. They do it purely as a hobby,
  3. They are incredibly talented and can write great copy that sells, within minutes, without the need to edit or proofread,
  4. Or they just write any old rubbish..  
Where does that leave the buyer? Probably with reason number 4, and a sales letter that converts few, if any. That's a lot of business-crushing time wasted, and they're left with two choices - spend more money and employ somebody else who can generate and convert leads, or just walk away - with the feeling that copywriters aren't all they're cracked up to be. A very expensive mistake!

I had to turn a job down on Elance last week because the money just didn't match the hours. I really wanted to do the job because it was of great interest to me, but the thought of rewriting 20 articles, of 300 words each, for the sum of $140.00 wasn't very appealing. Even if each article only took an hour (which is optimistic), it would work out at $7/hr. So, less than the starting wage at MacDonalds for articles designed to showcase a website/blog.

What quality of work could the client expect for that? 
And would it achieve what they wanted?

When you take your car to the main dealer for a service, you expect to pay in excess of $100/hr to get the job done correctly, and maintain your vehicle to the highest standard. You know you could take it to Fast Fred Fixit round the corner and save hundreds of dollars, but would it be done properly? Did he really take all the wheels off and check all of the brakes? Did he use the correct oil? Hmm, maybe a hundred dollars per hour doesn't sound quite so steep when you look at it in that way. And yet some businesses would like to pay a quarter of that to get sales copy that can produce thousands of dollars in profit per week! Something doesn't add up...

You pays your money and you takes your choice.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Editing and proofreading (or edetin and profreeding) - When to do it?

The next day!

Whenever you write something, make sure you do your read-through the following day. I always try to write in the mornings (because I'm fresher and more alert), then leave it alone for the afternoon, possibly a look over in the evening with basic edits - and finally, I always try to do my proofreading in the morning.

Why? Because when you read something you've just written, it's almost impossible to spot the mistakes; your brain will read it as you just thought it. You won't be able to tell if it flows correctly - maybe it doesn't even make sense at all. 

But, the next day you will have forgotten how it went; the grammar, the words, the flow, the paragraphs etc. will all be new to you again and, if you don't like it, you have the opportunity to fix it and read it again the next day. Clients don't always understand this process, but it's more important to get it right first time than for them to think your cat wrote the copy!

There are times when I've needed to get something off to a client quickly (after reading several times), and they've sent it back because they've found a spelling mistake! That's not the best way to showcase your writing and can be quite embarrassing. 

A spell check tip I learnt from the great copywriter, Bob Bly, is to read the entire piece backwards. Because the writing won't make any sense, you tend to look at each word individually; this way you're far less likely to scan over the mistakes.

Of course, if you have someone on hand to take a look through, don't be afraid to ask! 
Now where's my wife?