“Copywriting” is a word that gets thrown around a lot these days and many times people are a little confused about what it is they’re actually looking for when they’re looking for a copywriter. They may be looking for someone who works in advertising or they may actually be looking for a content writer for their website or marketing needs. The term ghostwriter has also become quite broad these days, especially with the emergence of the web.
All “copywriting” really refers to is the act of writing copy (text) for the express purpose of advertising and marketing a product. It’s “copy” because it’s not something that gets attributed to anyone. You don’t get a brochure and then see a little author bio at the bottom! Or “by Ryan Peter” at the top! It’s not journalism!
Copywriters work in different fields, however, and as a result do different things. A copywriter at an advertising agency is usually involved in coming up with clever slogans or taglines, or perhaps even the lyrics for a jingle. Copywriters in marketing, however, may be tasked to create content for the web (a company’s website) or for promotions (emails, radio or TV commercial scripts, sales letters, media pages and so on). The line here gets a bit blurred between public relations (PR) agencies who usually do the same sort of thing, although PR’s roots are in journalism. The basic idea with PR was that a PR agency would use a journalist to interview their client or come up with a story angle that would be fed to the press and therefore get the company into the newspapers or magazines. This is a press release. The press can use the copy outright or just use the info in the copy, it’s entirely at the liberty of the publication.
But these days PR is now heavily involved in social media and online marketing, meaning it writes copy for companies for their websites, campaigns and so on. It’s not just writing news pieces but doing the whole shebang. This is why copywriters have become something of a mixed bag. Your copywriter is now creating Facebook posts and Tweets and is also hired to manage those social media pages, which means they now interact with the company’s clientèle, something which would probably have never happened before. Copywriters are also now being used to write PR and blog posts for a client, to increase their search engine optimisation (SEO) on the Internet. (This means that people can find a company more easily on the Internet.)
Because a great deal of online marketing is also now about writing good content with blogs and so on, ghostwriting has become a bit blurred with copywriting. Many popular blogs are actually written and run by ghostwriters, even though the blog claims to be the work of a particular individual. Experts in their field find they don’t always have the time to write, so they’ll hire ghostwriters to do that for them. (It’s still the expert’s thoughts and insights, it’s just that someone else is spending the time doing the actual writing). Ghostwriters in this field need to have some journalism skills so they can understand what the expert is about and the expert’s topic, which may be quite technical.
And there we have it. My core business is ghostwriting, but I call myself a copywriter as well because that’s where I started and I still do a lot of that – writing content for clients’ websites and so on. Along the way, however, I’ve been heavily involved in journalism and PR. As you can see it’s all so mixed now that a writer needs to be able to do pretty much everything. The Internet has changed things in a big way! But, in many ways, we’ve actually just gone back to the way of the scribe, who in ancient times even used to do accounting for their clients!
Many of us have great ideas. Many want to put these ideas onto paper – a book, an article, a blog. These ideas could be a great fiction story or the story of our lives. But not all of us can write. Not all of us have the time or inclination to refine ourselves as a writer before we can release a book or even write an article for a publication. Nor should we have to, because that’s where ghostwriters come in.
Ghostwriting is an old and distinguished profession. In the ancient times you had the scribe who often wrote letters for dignitaries who didn’t have the time or even ability to find the perfect prose. These days, there’s actually no reason why your story shouldn’t be told just because you aren’t in the position to develop your writing skills. And besides, isn’t your time best spent doing what it is you’re actually doing? What it is you enjoy doing? Serving where you’re meant to be serving?
Presidents, celebrities, professors, executives, pastors and many others use ghost writers to craft their autobiographies, papers, inspirational books, philosophical or theological volumes or even their fiction ideas. To be honest, I would prefer the president to be running the country instead of spending hours behind a computer screen writing because, after all, the former is what he is good at doing (or should be, at least!)
The same applies to people from all other walks of life. But that doesn’t mean they should never have the opportunity to publish a book filled with the lessons, wisdom or insight they have acquired. Or publish articles. Or run a blog. In fact, it would be almost selfish of them not to do so because their lives and revelations, and even their imagination, inspire us all in our own journeys. We need their stories as we shape ours.
Writing not only takes time to do but takes a lifetime to perfect. I don’t try and build my own furniture, I usually hire a carpenter to build it for me, because he has the experience, skills and the passion. I also don’t try to design a house on my own, rather I hire an architect to serve me in that purpose.
As a ghostwriter I’m here to architect your story, whatever it may be, for you. Like with an architect you have an idea and, to various degrees, you may know what you want. But the architect drafts the plans, sources the material, and conducts the building project. In my case, I systematise your thoughts, do the research, and write the book, article or blog for you – from the planning phases all the way to the end project, where it’s ready for publishing.
In our world these days people are very much concerned about the bottom line. It’s all about the numbers at the end of the day, but in my business it’s not just about numbers but about quality.
At least that’s how it should be.
What do I mean? Well, I’ve had clients asking me to do a certain number of articles in an effort to increase their SEO. The idea with SEO is to get as many articles out there on the Internet that point to your website to increase your Google / web search rankings. Unfortunately, in an effort to increase quantity there are plenty of times when there is no interest in quality.
This is a problem for a number of reasons.
Firstly, it’s not good SEO. Google is getting more clever as time goes by. As the search engine giant continues to expand its search algorithm it is in the process of trying to separate good quality content from bad quality content, so that when we search for something on the Internet we’re not going to get spammed with trillions of articles that provide no valuable information except point to someone’s website.
Now, of course our website is meant to bring us business and conversions. That’s certainly the point. But Google is looking to be more than just a big Yellow Pages, it’s attempting to consolidate and provide information about everything. Google’s aim is to become something more akin to a library than a Yellow Pages, and for that reason our websites have to become more and more informative if we want to compete in the Google space.
And that means that now, more than ever – and certainly going into the future – we need quality writing over quantity writing. It’s no good writing millions of articles on your product but providing no valuable information to Google users. Google is looking to sift that sort of thing out.
This is where I like to position myself. Sure, on the Internet there are a million writers competing in the same space as I am, but when it comes down to the nitty gritty there is a vast difference between quality and quantity writing. Right now you can sign up at Elance.com and hire a writer who will charge $1.00 per 500 word article. If you’re looking for a writer, that kind of price might appeal to you because it’s so cheap, but it won’t provide any value to you at all. Much like a cheap fast-food meal seems like good value for money on the surface, but when we look at it there is very little nourishment there and nothing to provide for the long-term, so cheap writing produces cheap results.
Very cheap results. So cheap that you’re probably going to have to hire someone else to fix the nonsense you’ve been supplied.
I’m into long-term solutions and sustainable business ideas. Not flash in the pan stuff. And that’s why I call myself a quality writer.
That doesn’t mean I’m exorbitant in my pricing. My pricing is very competitive. But cheap and competitive are certainly two different things.