It’s been a quiet old summer for this freelance copywriter. Other than a handful of jobs for long-standing clients, inbound enquiries steadily tapered off over summer, and it’s hard to discern exactly why that’s happened.
OK, I’ve had my head in the bloody great hole that is our basement renovation. But that’s not the whole story.
Looking at my website stats – since 2016, the total number of inbound searches for freelance copywriters in Leeds to this website has dropped from about 300, to around 80 this year (2018).
I strongly suspect it’s that Brexit thing again, and the ongoing global economic slowdown kicking in. And like everyone else, it seems businesses are all playing the ‘wait and see’ game.
While I (or most politicians it seems) can’t get a handle on Brexit, I can take responsibility for rejuvenating my pipeline of freelance copywriting work.
Repositioning (so far)
After a good hard think and a wistful leaf through my portfolio, I’ve decided to focus my copywriting on the IT sector specialism that seems to have been there all along. So this quick note is a record of my efforts so far.
What’s worth mentioning first is that while I am pretty handy with words, business development and strategy isn’t my forte. I’m just a geek with a gift for copywriting – hence why I usually team up with marketing departments or experts on the subject.
A big chunk of repositioning myself as an brand copywriter for IT brands has been curating my LinkedIn profile. This means tailoring my experience so it draws on the 10 years I spent in web development before turning freelance, then the freelance projects I undertook for the likes of the Open Data Institute and IT consultancies in Leeds and Harrogate. A few hours work is already paying dividends; I’m appearing in searches for copywriters in Leeds and IT, systems and software already.
The portion of work I’m now engaged with is updating the copy here on this website, so it’s more clearly focused on the value I can add to IT, software and systems development businesses. That means honing the copy so it all comes back to cultivating more of the right kind of clients, with the right kind of projects.
Because this is what my IT clients are telling me
The industry is doing quite well as I understand it, with the entire economy seeking new ways to be efficient with IT – more from less (that Brexit thing again). So there’s no shortage of work. What seems to be the issue is filtering out the quality of what’s coming in – whether that’s clients, projects or recruiting technical staff.
On top of that, you’ve got the usual problem that their existing website copy – like marketing collateral and case studies for proposals, are getting neglected.
There’s always strong competition too, with SMEs going up against the global IT giants. So pitches and proposals need to be unique and fresh-sounding – telling a good story so they stand out, with lively brand copywriting and insightful case study examples.
These challenges are compounded further by the fact that these small to medium-sized IT firms and software houses don’t have marketing departments, or prefer not to use agencies (they see the value in hiring individual technical specialists like copywriters). They’re often brave enough to have a go at copywriting themselves but they’re short of time, and often feel like they’re saying the same old things.
So that, in a nutshell, is the problem I’m poised to help solve
I’m not really a tech blogger. Like I say on my homepage, this is all about establishing tone of voice for IT brands – how their brand comes across in their digital copy, websites and case studies. They need help articulating their services clearly so the right kind of projects come in through the door.
All this copywriting and copyediting is all very well but it’s no substitute to getting out there and talking to people. So I’ve been doing that too, to help get word out there that I’m seeking IT sector copywriting projects. Enter Twitter, meet-ups and reconnecting with old friends. It never fails to impress me just how generous people are when you ask for help.
The trickiest thing about marketing yourself is that it’s largely beyond your control. As someone said – the best kind of marketing is doing a good job. I’ve always endeavoured to do that, so next up is the task of curating my online portfolio. Soon, like my copy, that’ll be up-to-date with a strong IT focus.