Why ‘copy’ and ‘content’ are not the same

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There is a gulf of difference between ‘content’ and ‘copy’

“Hello,” said the web designer. “I’d like you to quote for writing fortnightly blog posts for my clients”.

Oh good, I thought. Writing blog posts is one of my favourite things – especially because he wanted them written in a happy, engaging style.

We talked more about his clients and how I might be able to help. During the conversation, he confessed he had been paying students to write the blog posts until now.

“But they’re not very good,” he said.

He was embarrassed to confess he had been paying only £10 for 300 – 500 words.

How much do you think 500 words is worth?

I asked some junior copywriters to quote. Their lowest fees were in the range of £35 – £50. As a senior copywriter with over 30 years’ experience, I would expect considerably more than that.

There is a gulf of difference between writing content for SEO purposes, and writing copy that sells to human beings.

Sadly, the Internet is full of words written purely for machines. This is increasingly pointless, as search engines are now more interested in inbound links than keywords and meta tags. You will only get an inbound link to decent quality copy.

Copywriting always has an objective. It might be to drive traffic to a website, encourage people to pick up the phone, incentivise subscribers to your newsletter, or something else.

The first task of the copywriter is to probe you for information about what the objective should be, and then recommend the best way of achieving that.

They will then conduct Internet research and maybe telephone interviews to collect the information they need to do a good job.

Finally, they will draft the text in a style that flows, fits your brand, and contains the psychological triggers that prompt the reader to take your desired action. it will probably go through several iterations before you even see the first draft.

Content writingSo do you want 500 words or 500 good words?

If you just want content, go to a content mill.

If you want carefully crafted words that get results, go to a copywriter.

photo credit: Bryce Sunset via photopin (license)

2 Responses to Why ‘copy’ and ‘content’ are not the same

  1. Jacques de Villiers July 2, 2015 at 7:04 am #

    Hey Jackie,

    Enjoyed this article. As a copywriter, I’m getting more briefs where I also have to do the research (particularly for blog articles). Just the research alone can take an hour or so. What in your opinion is an optimal fee to charge per article with research?

    I’m coming up against people who will work per word and they can seriously undercut one’s quote.

  2. Jackie July 2, 2015 at 7:51 am #

    Hi Jacques,

    So the ‘charge by word’ model is affecting you too? It’s like a global epidemic!

    Here is a page of recommended rates on the Pro Copywriters’ Network, here in the UK.
    http://www.procopywriters.co.uk/recommended-rates-for-hiring-copywriters/

    I hope that’s helpful.

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