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Is copywriting dying?

Jackie Barrie

Jackie Barrie T/A Comms Plus

The typesetters and artworkers cried when desktop publishing came in.

The typesetters and artworkers complained that typography standards dropped. The clients said: “Good enough is good enough.” They created their own artwork using default fonts (such as Comic Sans).

The copywriters laughed. “The clients can cut out all the middlemen, but they will always need us to create original content,” we said.

***

CryingThe printers cried when online print shops arrived.

The printers complained that print standards dropped. The clients said: “Good enough is good enough.” They used Vistaprint.

The copywriters laughed. “The clients can source their own print, but they will always depend on us to get the words right,” we said.

***

The photographers and videographers cried when camera phones were born.

The photographers complained that image and video standards dropped. The clients said: “Good enough is good enough.” They used their iPhones.

The copywriters laughed. “The clients can make their own images, they can make their own videos, but they will always need us to write the copy,” we said.

***

Then CMS (Content Management Systems) appeared, where clients can write their own copy.

The copywriters complained. “But they don’t know what they’re doing! They don’t understand SEO! They don’t understand marketing! There’s no call to action! Some of them can’t even spell!”

The clients said: “Good enough is good enough.” They use WordPress (now around 20% of the world’s websites).

The ex-typesetters, ex-artworkers, ex-printers, ex-photographers and ex-videographers laughed.

***

Many would-be clients don’t know they need a copywriter.

If they know they need help with the words, they don’t know what that’s called.

Even if they do know what it’s called, they probably can’t spell it. They confuse copywriting with copyright and trademark law.

In recessionary times, they don’t want to pay serious fees and will naturally choose a cheaper route.

As copywriters, we ought to be able to market ourselves.

So how do we communicate the return clients get on their copywriting investment?

How do we convince prospects we can help them win more than enough extra business to pay our fees?

How do we reassure them we can turn “good enough” into “brilliant” – and why that’s a good idea?

photo credit: bbaunach via photopin cc

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Comments

28th November 2014

Andrew Nattan

I’d argue the opposite, to be honest. As businesses have become more savvy about marketing their businesses online, and the previously niche SEO industry has gone mainstream, copywriting has been more in demand than ever. At least according to my to-do list.

Thanks to Google’s latest updates focusing on quality content, there’s a greater need for digital copywriting. Just because the clients don’t know the exact words, and will instead look for “content writer” or “website marketing writer” or something, doesn’t mean there’s no demand.

As for convincing clients that they need brilliant over “good enough” – that’s something their bottom line will do. When a business owner is wondering why her self-built squarespace site jam-packed with errors isn’t generating leads, she’ll start looking for professional help.

Then again, anecdotes aren’t exactly compelling proof. So I could be talking nonsense. But I’ve certainly seen an increase in demand in the past 12 months.

1st December 2014

Jackie

Hi Andrew,

I’ve been busier than ever too, but I train business-owners how to do their own copywriting and social media as well as doing hands-on copywriting for them.

Have you done anything differently to market your copywriting services over the past 12 months?

What do you think?

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