I originally started this post with the headline: “the web copywriter you’ve always dreamed of?” It was originally supposed to be the start of a new landing page for our web copywriting services.
I believe honesty is the best policy so here’s the honest truth:
No-one dreams about web copywriters. Not even web copywriters.
Let’s face it a web copywriter is the last person you think of in your marketing. I know this because 9 times out of 10 we’re the last agency to be contacted when a business launches a new website, redesigns an old one or starts a new marketing initiative.
Most businesses don’t want to think about their copy
Businesses like to lavish attention on SEO guys because they get high rankings on search engines. Or they might cuddle up to their designer because the designer makes things look pretty. Or they reserve their special favours for developers because let’s face it nobody knows how the hell those guys make all those whiz bang things happen online – most marketing people wouldn’t have the first clue where to start.
The web copywriter as a modern day Cinderella
So, there at the bottom, lonely and shivering in a dirty corner on a bed of filthy hay like some latter day Cinderella is the web copywriter.
Why has this happened? Why has the poor old copywriter, once the darling of the marketing firmament, plunged so low? Where are the cocktails, fancy clothes and limitless expense accounts? The tolerance to creative hissy fits or missed deadlines?
At the coal face of the er… factory floor
Instead there is big demand now for ultra budget rates and rapid turnaround that position copywriting as some kind of production line. We frequently get enquiries from companies who need work at less than .5 cents a word. Freelance copywriters who accept these rates are (I’m guessing) earning less than $5 an hour. That’s less than a Walmart Cashier (around $8.50 an hour) – and without any of the benefits. Imagine Don Draper calling out “can I get a price on this laxative please?”
BWC – before web copywriters
A few years ago, in the early days of the web, it seemed like everyone was a web designer. Back then no one had even thought of such a profession as “web copywriter” but I think there was a widely held belief that anyone with a PC and a passing knowledge of Photoshop and Dreamweaver could knock up a website. In short, people didn’t really want to spend money on web design.
Over time, there seems to have been a change in how web design as a profession is perceived not least because most businesses recognise the importance of good web design. I think this also goes hand in hand with a growing recognition that designers and developers are two very different species, largely because the technical demands required by online businesses require a distinct skill set that doesn’t often overlap with the creative skills required to be a good designer. That’s not to say some developers aren’t creative, or that some designers aren’t technical but the two disciplines require a totally different mindset.
My point here is that the regard in which designers and developers are held has improved over time, whereas the opposite is true for copywriters.
In my next post I’ll talk more about why I think this is the case.