I have a close relative who runs a copy agency, employing a dozen or so creators, each concentrating on a particular subject. Others are called on as and when required. The latter includes me. If her dedicated creator struggles with high demand, I get a phone call.
She was worried that contracts might slow given the parlous state of the economy, what with Covid lockdowns and cost of living increases. However, she recently said her main problem is securing quality ad hoc writers. It seems there is a shortage. I’ve been asked to step-in more frequently this year than ever before.
It also appears, whether because of this possible shortage, or the desire to limit costs, some companies are considering producing copy for websites, e-newsletters and marketing emails in-house. It may come as a surprise to you that a copywriter, i.e. me, would suggest you could probably do a fair job at each. It’s true, but it needs careful management.
Given how much you and your individual staff members are worth per hour, it’s unlikely to be cheaper or, sorry for the slight, of equal quality, but it could see you through a difficult period. The new skills you learn, not to mention the needs of copywriters, will be useful later when profits allow you to outsource.
My relative and I agree on the three main criticisms of the way we are sometimes managed:
Not enough information
It is hardly sufficient to give a copywriter just wordage and subject. Requests for clarification of its purpose, where it was going, those whom it was aimed at, were normally met with the infuriating phrase, ‘Oh, you know. Just general sort of stuff.’
Most copywriters, and certainly those who are worth their money, take pride in their work and consider the balance of the start, finish, and middle. Telling them to do it overnight doesn’t produce quality work.
Most would prefer to be part of the team to aid productivity but generally are treated as contractors. Friendly comments, discussions as to why a deadline had such short notice, should not be too much to ask.
If you or your staff are going to write the copy yourself, remember those three points.
Be clear in your own mind what you want. It’s no good segmenting your email marketing list and then ignore who they are. Write down bullet points. The author must keep them in mind all the time.
If you produce the copy, ask your staff for their opinions on it. If a staff member writes it, encourage them to ask other staff for their ideas.
Ensure you have sufficient time to create the copy, although short deadlines will vanish soon enough if you or a staff member are the writers. Add time to review the copy, read it aloud, and then ask somebody to check it. It takes time. Make time.
From a copywriter’s point-of-view, those who’ve written their own copy for any period make good customers. They tend to be much nicer managers.