I toyed around with chatGPT last week (who hasn’t!). It was time to map out my content plan for the next 90 days, and I felt stuck in the sand-pit of Australian summer torpor. After reading a wordstorm of articles about chatGPT over the last few weeks, I wondered whether the rumours of its magic could apply to me. Or would the opposite be true? Would no one be prepared to hire a copywriter anymore?
My spell of experimentation left me flat. The test writing the AI tool created was fast, factually correct, and error-free. But it left me… uninspired. It didn’t produce anything I’d be proud to add to my website. Admittedly, it is only as good as the input it receives, I guess, so maybe that was partly my fault!
Over the following days, though, I started to realise its potential. It helped me understand the uniqueness of being human, and the genuine value in the energy, ideas, and inspiration I get from working with other people on shared projects. Even so, will everyone use AI to write their websites in the future? And what purpose is served in hiring a copywriter anymore?
Writing your own copy remains a valid and proven option, by the way. Bootstrapping your business by keeping everything in-house prevents you from overstretching your financial resources in the early days.
Using AI is great, too—if you want something functional and accurate. As AI develops and ‘learns’, it will probably add humour, emotion, and persuasion with increasing quality. The real opportunity right now seems to lie in reducing the mundane and freeing up time to allow the best parts of ourselves to reach their potential.
If we can just escape the dampening effect of day-to-day drudgery, imagine the powerful outcomes our thoughts and creativity could achieve. Over the last year, I’ve saved a tonne of time by using audio, transcription, and proofreading tools, all of which use AI in some form. So, I’m not against it. If any of us are running all or part of our business via the internet, I’m sure we all use some form of AI already!
So, with that all said, what reasons are there to hire a real-life copywriter?
1. Copywriters are trained to write copy that works
Copywriting is a learnable craft, not a talent you have to be born with. Working with a copywriter helps you tap into their specialised training and experience in persuasive writing. It means you don’t have to know about the power of PAS to bring prospective clients to you, or AIDA to help convert them into paying customers. You don’t have to practice drafting compelling headlines, or creating SEO-friendly copy. Instead, hire a trained expert who has weeks, months, if not years of practice in these proven and emerging powerful techniques.
Tip: When choosing a copywriter, ask them what training, credentials, and certifications they have.
2. It’s hard to write about yourself
I know my own website could and should be a lot better (like plumber’s tap, this is an eternal work-in-progress). I’m sorely tempted to hire another copywriter to rewrite my website copy. Why? Because I feel stilted and self-conscious talking about my business.
No matter how good the words may sound when you’re thinking them up in the shower, when you see them written down… they just don’t seem to come out right on the page. But it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why, right? It’s easier to see the flaws and opportunities on someone else’s website than to see it on your own. Put it this way, how often have you given advice to a friend that you don’t have the good judgement to take yourself?
Tip: When hiring a copywriter, ask for examples of work they have done for other clients, rather than just looking at their website.
3. Yet, you get to talk about yourself
Talking about yourself for hours on end is a big no-no on most (all?) social occasions. But copywriters crave information about you. The more you give them, the better the job they’ll do. Why? Because you provide tone, nuance, and phrases that reflect who you are and insights about why your business is important. You might not realise how important and interesting the stuff you’re sharing is, but a copywriter does. Access to you helps create copy that captures your true voice.
Tip: Copywriters are likely to ask for information about your customers too, including your customers’ voices, opinions, feedback, and typical demographics. Shower your copywriter in this information. They will love you for it 😉.
4. You save time
When I wrote my first website, it took me 52 hours. I know this because I’ve tracked every hour I’ve worked since 1 January 2020. In September 2020, I did a big overhaul of my website (and it’s due for another one now). I tracked every hour I spent working on it one glorious spring school holiday when I should probably have been playing with the kids.
Tip: Hiring a copywriter can seem expensive. However, every business owner I know is busy, and your time is valuable. Calculate how much money you can make working on other parts of the business instead of spending a long, frustrating week grappling with WordPress. Especially if you end up outsourcing it, anyway. Or actually spend time with your kids 🙌.
5. You get to veto the results
OK, say you choose to write your own website. When you’re finished, you’re just glad it’s done so you can turn off ‘maintenance mode’ and get back to your actual work.
Thing is, you’re not sure whether what you’ve written is truly any good. Family, friends, anyone with tact, either say nothing constructive even when you’d prefer they pointed out the flaws or don’t have the skill set to know why it isn’t working (especially Uncle Harry from ‘his’ armchair who thinks he knows everything).
Copywriting is an iterative, collaborative process. Good copywriters provide at least one or two rounds of revisions as part of their process. Make sure you use these revision opportunities to get the very best standard of work you expect.
Tip: When you work with a copywriter, you really get to critique the copy they produce, so don’t hold back. You’ve hired them, you’ve paid them, it’s time to get them to deliver. And believe me, they’ll appreciate it more than you can possibly know!
6. A copywriter brings a fresh pair of eyes and a wider perspective
You probably know very well what you and your competition are doing to attract visitors and customers. 5-day challenges may be in vogue, mini-courses, or some kind of proven web copy layout. After a while, though, it may all start to feel ‘echo-chambery’.
Because your copywriter works with different clients over time, they are better at cross-pollinating your copy with fresh ideas that they’ve seen work well elsewhere. You get access to their experience and new ideas beyond your own niche and industry.
Tip: Sometimes a new idea or approach can feel confronting. Freshly written copy can seem unfamiliar, unexpected, and even off-brand. If your copywriter hasn’t already taken you through their version of your new copy, ask them questions about why they took that approach. You can veto their idea or consider what the new approach might mean for your business. Their suggestions might not be ‘right’, but they may lead to something really special with a couple of tweaks.
7. You get better copy by collaborating than by working alone
Following on from the point above, talking to your copywriter has multiple benefits. Just going through the copy briefing process that kicks off the work you do together can help you get even clearer about your:
- Desired outcomes
- Voice and purpose
Discussing potential ideas together creates sparks of energy that can transform into better ideas than either of you might come up with on your own.
This energy emerges during the briefing process, when you see the first and second drafts of your copy, and even in the debriefing process at the end of the project. Having a sounding board for your business during a copywriting project can be a valuable time to talk in-depth about your plans for your business. After all, you’re sharing your dreams, goals, and plans and entrusting these with someone who gets to know you and your business incredibly deeply.
Tip: The more you put into the process of working with a copywriter, the more you’ll get out of the experience. If you’re nervous about confidentiality, make sure this is addressed in the terms and conditions of hiring the copywriter, and then open up! You might end up with far more than great copy!
We have access to great tools and resources these days, and I encourage you to make the most of them. With all of them, you’re looking for the right balance between speed, cost, and quality.
While there are many good reasons to work with a real-life copywriter, AI and writing your own copy also have their place. If you don’t have the patience or time to do it yourself, and you’re looking for better quality copy, hiring a copywriter might be right for you.
Copywriters are trained to help. They want to improve your results. They encourage you to talk, while saving you a heap of time. You’re the boss, so you get to say yay or nay on the copy they produce and they relish the constructive feedback (yes, really!).
You can work with a specialist copywriter or a generalist with a broad base of experience. Either way, you get to tap into their fresh eyes, creative spirit, robust techniques, and love of writing.
So, want to leave the copy to the copywriters? Or do you prefer to do it yourself and receive a once-over with a quick copy audit? I can support both options, so drop me a line at email@example.com and I’ll get back to you promptly.
If you prefer a steady stream of tips and ideas, you can get the latest ratty tales and updates every couple of weeks. See below for details.
I’m Rananda, a Sydney-based writer and editor
With 25-plus years in corporate life, a financial background, a science education, and a lifetime of writing, I know there is more to starting and growing a loyal following than just the words on your website or saving that draft manuscript in a folder.
I bring comprehensive practical experience to supporting your writing needs.