Ask A... Copywriter with Nikki Groom

Photo Credit: Brittanny Taylor

Photo Credit: Brittanny Taylor

1. What does a copywriter do, anyway? 

Copywriters write advertising copy (also just called "copy"): the words you need to promote your business. These words deliver messages designed to compel the attention of a prospective buyer and encourage them to purchase. 

Writing copy like this isn't restricted to television or magazines anymore. If you want to inspire people to get in touch with you through your website, for example, you'll probably want to hire a copywriter. And if you want to ensure your subscribers feel seen and heard and understood, you might hire a copywriter to write your blog posts and newsletters on your behalf.

Hiring a copywriter also frees up your time so that you can focus your energies on growing your business and taking care of your customers or clients. 

I've written website copy, sales page copy, email sequences, pay-per-click ads, newsletters, blog posts, video scripts, and much more. Writing this kind of copy is a skill, and making the smallest change can have a big impact, which is why it's usually best left to the pros. 

2. Should I hire a copywriter or a web designer first?

It's entirely up to you, but here are a few things to bear in mind: 

If you hire the web designer first, the designer should be able to provide you with a wire frame and home page mock-up to share with your copywriter. After this, your designer will need copy from you pretty quickly (within a couple of weeks, typically) in order to move forward, which means you'll need to plan for and hire a copywriter in advance, especially as the best copywriters tend to get booked out.

Alternatively, you could start with the copy instead, which you may find gives you a little more time to play with. A web designer can then take the copy and work it into their initial design concepts. 

3. I decided to write my own copy. Is the page I wrote too long?

I always say "go with your gut" on this one. If you think the page is too long, then it more than likely is. If you think it's too short, then the same thing goes. 

There's no "perfect" length. I've seen brilliantly written 150-word(!) pages and 1000-word plus pages that are equally as compelling. A good rule of thumb is: "Say what you need to say - no more, no less." 

Another tip is to show your page to your favorite clients, biggest fans, community, or mastermind group. Sometimes we get too close to what we write, which means it can be invaluable to get someone else's feedback so that you can shape your page into everything it has the potential to be.

4. I wrote something, and now I need to edit it. Where do I start? 

The best place to start is to read what you've written out loud. That way, you can check for errors and determine whether what you've written sounds natural or convoluted. 

If you're brave enough, read it out loud to someone you trust. It's a trick Quentin Tarantino uses when he's writing a new movie script. He's not interested in getting any feedback, he just wants to hear how it sounds through somebody else's ears. 

One other tip: Use abbreviations wherever possible. So "I'm" not "I am" or "we're" not "we are", and so on. This will improve the overall feel and flow of your copy and ensure you don't sound like a robot. Good copy is conversational, rather than corporate-y, stiff, and buttoned-up.

5. How can I earn money as a copywriter?

Honestly, being a business owner is stressful and not everyone makes it over the six-figure mark - let alone the seven-figure mark. But many do and, for most of the entrepreneurs I know, that dream is enough to keep their fires burning.

When I first got into copywriting, there was definitely a "starving artist" mentality around writing as a profession. But after working three years full-time in my business, I made over $125,000 in my third year from a mix of one-on-one copywriting and marketing consulting.

But you can only work so hard with so many people - and you can only raise your rates so high. 

At some point, if you achieve a significant amount of success, you're going to have to start thinking about leveraging your time by adopting an agency model (subcontracting work out to other copywriters), or turning your expertise into what's called "passive income" - products, books, courses or programs.

In an ideal world, these make you money while you sleep. But they usually take a lot of time, money and energy to create upfront - and also require regular marketing and attention as you go - so "passive" is a little misleading. Having a team who can help you launch will help you continue to scale.

Bottom line: It is possible to make a lot of money as a copywriter, but it takes a lot of perseverance, and there's definitely not a shortcut to success.

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NIKKI GROOM is a copywriting expert and brand strategist for business leaders and entrepreneurs who want to build a profitable business while making the world a better place. She is a British expat, motivational speaker, and founder of The 100 Stories Worth Telling Project, which seeks to amplify the voices of women entrepreneurs all over the world. 

Nikki is passionate about the power of storytelling as a way for thought leaders to humanize their businesses, build relationships with the people they most want to serve, and inspire readers into action. She is also a firm believer that all businesses should lead with empathy.