Maybe it’s time you wrote your own copy

It’s an unorthodox position for a copywriter to take. I realise that. But if you fit the bill described here, then maybe it’s time you wrote your own copy.

Yes, you read that right.

Despite being a professional copywriter myself, I’m about to encourage you to write your own copy. Naturally, there are strong against – many of which I’ve made myself.

But for today, met me focus on the arguments for writing your own copy.

Let me explain

With only a handful of exceptions, almost every client I’ve ever written on behalf of has tweaked the copy before they publish it.

This happens because people need to adjust for the platform – be it print, web or social media. Facts change. Messages need updating. In every case, the copy I write is just a manifestation of what’s gone into producing it. 

Rarely am I ever the sole arbiter of copy I write on behalf of a client. It always ends up being theirs, to do with as they please. It takes on a life of its own

Which brings me neatly onto my second point

I’ve always said that copywriting is roughly 90% analysis and planning, 10% writing. Writing is only one small (albeit important) part of the craft. That’s what people really pay me for, when they hire me as a copywriter.

It’s honing their message, crystallising some argument or conveying a message succinctly. From my point of view as a copywriter, if I don’t actually write the final piece, all I lose is creative control (which as I’ve painted out above is a fallacy anyway!).

Copywriters still create an enormous amount of value for their client in the analysis and planning. That’s regardless of whether I write the actual copy or not.

I guess what I’m trying to say is you can still hire a copywriter in their capacity as a consultant, rather than wordsmith.

My last argument for comes down what type of client you are 

I’m in the process of refocusing my business. That means targeting my expertise on a niche group of people I’m best placed to serve.

That’d be small, creative businesses – like freelancers, small agencies and specialist software engineers. And for them, I’ll be offering copywriting coaching. As well as workshops about creating lightbulb moments, using case studies and other copywriting techniques.

Small, independent, creative businesses are often unique because of who they are. Be it their tiny team of people or, as is more likely, person. They rely on personality and authenticity – that’s what makes them stand out (and often what they stand for). 

If you outsource your copywriting to a third party, some of that individual personality can get lost. There isn’t really a collective brand to play with here (unlike larger clients). It tends to be just one person’s voice and worldview. Hence why there’s a compelling argument in favour of writing your own copy, if you’re a small creative business.

This led me to the conclusion that, on balance, it’s not so bad if you write your own. Especially if you fit the criteria above.

There’s another factor at play here

I’ve been at the coal-face long enough to realise that it’s far more rewarding all round if you write your own copy. If I write it on your behalf, sure you get quicker results, and we solve a problem in the short-term. But when it’s over, you still don’t have the skills to write independently. Authenticity risks getting lost in translation too, if you’re a small, creative business.

Likewise, as a freelance copywriter our jobs tend to fly in then straight out the door. There’s rarely enough time to nurture fruitful partnerships and meaningful connections with the people you serve. And that’s where the enduring rewards are.

That’s why I’m moving into coaching people in copywriting. I’ll be focusing on that valuable 90% preparation. Then hand-holding creative people through the remaining 10% – on their own terms. It’s more fulfilling for me, watching and guiding your growth. And it’s more fulfilling for you, actually growing and learning to express your value more clearly. 

It’s an unorthodox position for a copywriter to take. I realise that. But if you fit the bill above, then maybe it’s time you wrote your own copy.

By Chris Kenworthy | Life coach

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