There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.

~Ernest Hemingway

How hard can it be, this writing thing?

As a professional writer, I often hear non-writers suggest that copywriting must be easy for me since I am so good at it. That writing, for a writer, has got to be painless, just something we do naturally, like breathing. That a short project shouldn’t take too long to complete because there are so few words, and, because it’s so easy, it shouldn’t cost too much.

I am not alone.

I queried several of my copywriter pals (yo, Sirens!) who confirmed the same thing. And it goes deeper: the most frustrating thing that professional copywriters deal with is the fact that the work we must do just to get to the writing, the creative ferment that has to happen, is undervalued, overlooked, or just not acknowledged at all.

So, let me break it down, in case you are thinking of hiring a copywriter (I highly recommend this) to help with your website, collateral, or any other project, there are a few things I’d like you to consider.

The following list highlights the common problems that writers run into when working with clients.

  • Time: You want the best. You want splendid, noteworthy copy. And you know what? You deserve it! But, please, we need time to ruminate. We need solitude, silence, and a good cup of warming brew (plus long walks and other creative pursuits) to get us to the fertile ground where we can begin harvesting the good stuff. Give us time. Don’t breath down our necks—believe me, we are aware of the deadlines and we hustle to meet them. Allow time for us to create copy that will make you proud.
  • We Are Pros: Whether we are formally educated, erudite autodidacts, or a combination of both, we work hard at this stuff! We live and breathe words. Words, the ones we assemble for you, matter to us. We don’t want to put crap out there, so please trust us—we have done this before. And, while you might think you are buying a certain word count or number of web pages, in reality, you are getting a lifetime of experience, skill, and dedication. We rock at this, so respect your writer—we have toiled, and continue to do so, to keep our chops finely tuned.
  • Unpreparedness: You have an idea. It’s a good one. You need a website, or a tagline, or a bio. Trouble is, you don’t know exactly what you want your business to be. You think it might involve intuition, the words juicy and awesomesauce, and you want your pet chinchilla to be featured prominently. Many writers (like me) also coach and provide branding services. We are a talented lot, but please, it’s your business, don’t expect your copywriter to figure it out for you. Yes we can help shape the message, but it’s your vision, so it’s your job know what that is.
  • Client Edits: Yes, the work belongs to the client, and yes, as the client you can do whatever you want with it, but it kills us when you want or make edits that are not sound. Either the edits are grammatically incorrect, or don’t make sense in the context, or whatever. When your doctor tells you that you need ear surgery, do you tell her that removing the mole on your forearm will take care of the issue? I hope not. You hired us for our skills—allow us to use them!
  • Death by Committee: When you take our work, whether it’s the first draft we submit or the near-final version, and you run it through the committee meat grinder, it dies. Too many editors and ideas contaminate good copywriting. Everyone has an opinion; everyone is a writer. If you want us to field multiple rounds of edits—especially from more than two reviewers (who write with crayons in the margins on a PDF copy that you scan and return to us), expect an additional charge. We are hard-working, but we are not masochists.

We writers are an amiable lot, really, and we are committed to giving you the best that we can. We want to do right by you; we want you to squeal with delight at the words we’ve strung together for you. We want you to be a blazing success. But, we also want you to understand that we are capable, professional, and we deliver (as long as you have done your due diligence—I don’t claim all copywriters, like any other service providers, have the same high standards as the writer-babes that I hang with)!

With planning and thoughtfulness, you, dear client, can be better prepared to know what you are getting and to understand why good copywriting isn’t free (or cheap). That is unless your uncle Louie, who wrote a story for his junior high newspaper 45 years ago, is willing to do it for you. But then, caveat emptor!

Are you ready  to invest in your business so that your copy supports your brand? If so, contact me and let’s chat!

image credit: amador loureiro via