If you’re looking to implement an online marketing strategy, and you’re sure you want to hire components out, it’s likely, you’re running into several different job titles and specializations. You might be seeing web design agencies, SEO agencies, copywriters, content writers, and web content writers, web developers, and internet marketing consultants, and it’s likely you’ll get confused wondering, “What’s all these people for?”.
That’s the reason for the web content writer showdown. I’ll walk you thru the differences between copywriters, content writers, and web content writers, so you can narrow down your list to the essential people you need for the project you’re looking to complete.
For the last 3 years, I’ve studied SEO writing and copywriting. I’ve also worked with many writers who have a plethora of titles like content writers, creative writers, nonfiction writers, fiction writers, copywriters, and the list goes on. I understand how a person outside of the industry could be overwhelmed if they’re attempting to find the right person to help with their project, but there’s so many different titles.
Even worse, many people don’t admit to their limits, so some writers without familiarity may say they can perform a project because they’re a “writer”, but their specialty may not be compatible to perform as a SEO writer, copywriter, or a content writer–this has happened to me when hiring before. I’ve learned the hard way that not everyone who is a good writer is a good copywriter, SEO writer, or content writer.
First, let’s break down what a copywriter is…
According to Copyblogger, “Copywriting is the art and science of strategically delivering words (whether written or spoken) that get people to take some form of action”.
Copywriters study psychology, sales, customer behaviors, and require lots of practice and study to learn how to write content that converts into action. It’s an action-based profession where you can tell a good copywriter based on conversion results, their time testing to improve their results, and their ability to modify their words to increase action with your audience.
While, other writing professionals or hobbyists may be good with grammar, communicating a message, or creatively compiling text, copywriters are experts at creating content that converts readers into action, and the skill takes time, focus, and practice.
What is an SEO Writer?
An SEO writer is a person whose studied the search engines and components that cause websites to rank organically. They study how to write content that will get found by the search engines. They should be able to:
- Perform keyword research
- Choose keywords and identify the search volume and competition
- Format content to be readable
- Add appropriate titles, meta descriptions, and image alt tags
- Create content the appropriate word count
While it’s possible to get lots of traffic thru search engine optimization, optimizing for a computer or computer program doesn’t mean the content will convert into retained readers, buyers, or sales. SEO is a part of the battle, but writing to satisfy the people who visit your site as a result of search engine optimization is not necessarily the strength of the SEO writer.
What is a Content Writer?
A content writer is a person who can write content. To be a content writer, you simply have to write content. The content writer is a generalist. They may or may not know search engine optimization, and the additional research, study, and thought required for copywriting may be completely foreign to them.
Content writers can vary in skill level. Some may be able to gather words for you, but they may have varying degrees of grammar proficiency, they specialize in writing different languages or even different variations of English. For example, some writers specialize in writing British English, some American English, and so on.
Some Common Things You’ll Need To Know Before Hiring Writers
Before hiring a writer for your online marketing strategy, you’ll want to consider:
1. How Much Supervision You Want to Provide
You may be able to hire a person who is a more entry-level content writer if you’re willing to supervise, return the content for revisions, and if the content writer is willing to modify content after several rounds of revisions. Unfortunately, if you;re hiring an entry level content writer, you’ll have to train for awhile before their able to operate on a marketable level with very few revisions.
You’ll want to consider your requirements and background prior to hiring someone. On many freelance platforms, you can find “cheap” writers, but cheap doesn’t actually mean savings.
I’ve hired offshore writers who have a low hourly rate in comparison to my cost of living in the US to try it out. There’s lots of hype about hiring offshore and lowering operating costs. Often times, I’ve found that I have lots of proofreading and editting to do when I get the content back, which takes lots of time.
Added onto the time it takes, if I didn’t have a background in proofreading and take courses on editting, then performing in that context may have been very overwhelming to me.
If your online marketing project is supposed to represent your brand, then conversions, a thorough market understanding, and the abiity to connect with readers and convert them into buyers will give you a return on investment. If you publish sub-par content, you could risk the credibility of your brand, huge conversion percentages, lots of time, lots of money, and an opportunity to grow a readership.
Sometimes, paying for the added expertise can get the job done much more efficiently and get it done right the first time.
2. Whether They Have a Background in Copywriting, Search Engine Optimization, or another Specialty
If your goal is to provide information, you’d want to make sure sufficient reference material is provided, or you’d want to make sure the writer will do the necessary research to provide the information your audience will be looking for.
Similarly, if you want sales pages, product descriptions, or pages that convert into an action, you’d want to hire someone who has a record of accomplishing that goal. Then, if you’re looking for your site to rank better in search engines, you may want to hire someone with search engine optimization background to help you optimize content or to help you create new content that gets found in search engines.
While it sounds good to hire a writer to perform “general writing” projects, often times, being general does not get specific goals achieved.
3. If You’re Willing to Provide Training to Give them More Background
Some entrepreneurs are willing to hire people, invest up front, and get the benefit of the added training later down the line. For example, there are employer tuition reimbursement programs and other employer education programs that are designed where employers invest up front and reap later.
You may be interested in hiring in-house and sending hired writers for training like the #1 DIY digital marketing training I recommend or even Udemy training, however, if you have a short-term deadline to complete your project, pursuing a long-term training strategy may not be the appropriate approach.
4. What Their Portfolio Looks Like
Most established writers will have a portfolio with examples of their writing. For example, I have several websites I use to display my writing in various niches. Having a portfolio helps potential customers to feel out a writers’ writing style to see if it would suit their audience. Of course, different brands may have different voice, tone, and initiatives, so portfolios may not be 100% compatible, but it helps.
The portfolio will also help you to see if their writing is:
- What type of skill level they have
- If they’re a researcher or fluff writer
- and so on…
5. If You’ll Need To Pay For Several Rounds of Edits To Make Their Content Marketable
When you look at their portfolio, they may have tailored it so you can’t see their authentic off-the-press writing, so you may want to ask. Their portfolio should give you a good feel for whether you’ll need to perform several edits or not.
Sometimes, the edits may be for:
- To add a relevant call-to-action
- or other specifications for your project
6. Your Goals For The Content
Regardless of skill level and background, as the project source, you have to be clear about what you want from the project. It’s not fair to give unclear directions, then penalize the content creator with several revisions because they completed the project to the best of their abilities.
If you’re unsure how to get clear about what you want:
1. Find some examples
2. Look at your competitors and analyze components of their marketing you like
3. Be clear about your brand and specifications related to your business
4. Understand your target audience and relay past experiences of what worked
The Progression of Writers
Copywriters are the highest paid writers in the world. Their hourly rates are typically upwards of $50.00 and something like a product description can cost thousands because it’s likely to get you thousands+ in returns. If you’re not expecting your project to generate high sales volumes or revenues, then you may not want to pay for a copywriter.
Instead, if your concern is simply for exposure, you may do well by hiring a SEO writer or a content writer and infuse the SEO later–it all depends on your project goals.
A Playlist on Copywriters versus Content Writers
Here’s a playlist that explains more about the differences between copywriters and content writers:
Final Words on The Web Content Writer Showdown
The goal of this article was to show you the difference between these growing fields of writers. It can be confusing to compile a working team to execute an internet marketing strategy. If you have questions or concerns about this, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments section. I’d love to help you out!
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Now, it’s Your Turn…
Do you have experience hiring writers? Have you seen the different web content writer descriptions and been a little confused? Leave your comments, questions, and feedback below.