So, you want to hire a writer.
Hiring outside help is a phenomenal way to boost marketing efforts while ensuring your brand is in experienced, linguistically capable hands — but writers aren’t all created the same. In fact, there are several different types of writers, all of whom have their own strengths, weaknesses and areas of specialty.
Finding the right person to write content for your website isn’t just a matter of connecting with someone who can string together a convincing combination of nouns and verbs.
For your content to excel, you need a writer whose skill set and expertise matches the project at hand.
With that in mind, here’s a quick overview of the three types of writers your business might consider hiring and for what jobs.
Copywriters are the word-spinning geniuses behind marketing content and other kinds of promotional material. “Copy” generally has three goals:
- Connect with the target demographic
- Communicate brand messaging
- Convert, as in compelling a sale or inspiring the reader to click, email or call
Think of copywriting as action-based writing. It’s sales, but instead of knocking on doors and demonstrating the handy-dandy features of an upright vacuum cleaner or convincing car shoppers that they really need that upgraded interior, copywriters are using the power of the written word to position a client’s products or services as the solution to a specific pain point.
You might hire a copywriter for:
- Product descriptions
- Landing pages
- Sales pages
- Copy-based search engine optimization (SEO)
Some copywriters dabble in multiple niches, while others are the master of landing pages or Facebook ads and won’t touch anything else. If you’d prefer to have one writer take care of everything, make sure you discuss that up front, but also know that sometimes it’s good to have a surgeon, anesthesiologist and scrub nurse all on your team. In other words, there are occasions when a copywriter with a practically Lilliputian area of expertise is far more valuable than a supposed jack-of-all-trades.
Content writing is also part of marketing, but it’s a softer sell and involves more layers of the overall sales funnel. Depending on the piece, content writers may try to inform, entertain, establish authority, nurture rapport and build trust — or all of the above.
Where copywriting seeks to make a sale, content writing is how you soften up a potential customer, laying the groundwork for the idea and promise behind a product.
Most often, content writers create content that’s top of funnel near the awareness and interest stages. Copywriters tend to create content at the desire and action stages.
Content writers are responsible for projects such as:
- Blog posts
- White papers
- Social media posts
- Press releases
- Web content
- Employee bios
As with copywriters, the content writers you hire may do a little bit of everything, or they might stick to a single industry — say, plumbing or wine — or a single category of content.
All writing involves a certain level of imagination, but creative writing has more leeway. Fiction writers may be inspired by real-life people and events, but they aren’t tied to that narrative. They can conjure characters out of thin air. They can even conceive of entire worlds a la Tolkien or Rowling, writing a book that takes readers places nobody on the planet has ever been before.
It may not seem like fiction writers have a place in the cold, hard world of sales and marketing. While it’s true that both content writing and copywriting require a strong factual thread that lends credibility and legitimacy, how you flesh out that truth skeleton is up for grabs.
Some people choose to fuel their marketing initiatives with pie charts and statistics. Others turn to storytelling to share information in a format that’s attention-getting and gently leading. It’s not surprising, then, that some of the greatest literary minds of the last century also offer up some sage marketing advice.
How They All Work Together
While many freelancer writers specialize in one kind of writing — and some niche down even further, focusing their energies just on newsletters or blogs posts, for instance — others offer overlapping services. You may find a talented writer who churns out unbelievably pithy social media posts but also creates catalog copy and collaborates on children’s books on the side.
It can be. Maybe this will help: Pretend you have a business selling a new kind of mop. Everybody needs mops, right? But there’s also a thousand other mops on the market, so you need to find a way to differentiate your brand.
A fiction writer might create a story around your mop, introducing the Duke of Dirt and the Princess of Perfection who are locked in an eternal battle of clutter versus cleanliness.
Your content writer will build on those tales from the Land of Tidying Up by referencing them in blogs, using the characters to connect with consumers on social media or author an article that uses the Duke and Princess to recount the many benefits of clean floors and research behind your brand’s cutting-edge mop technology.
Finally, a copywriter steps in to create a sales page to convince those clicking on a Facebook post or blog CTA that this is the mop they want — no, the mop they need.
The point is this: take the time to vet and hire a writer who knows how to open closed doors and invite readers in. Whether you’re looking to publish a book or launch a new website, the writing process doesn’t start when your freelancer picks up an order and starts tapping on their laptop’s keyboard — it starts when you choose the talent whose skill set best serves your needs.