Did you know there were two?
That’s right. There are two “breeds” of Web copywriter running around out there. Depending on your objectives, you will probably only need one of them.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what each breed does and why you’ll want to hire one or the other:
1. The SEO Savant
This is the copywriter to call when you need something quick and keyword-rich for off-site SEO purposes only.
The quality of an SEO savant’s copywriting services will vary. That’s because these writers are usually more focused on keyword density and anchor text links than they are on creating high-caliber content for companies trying to establish thought leadership and nurture online communities.
Many SEO savants will:
- Specialize in projects that require little research
- Pride themselves on writing dozens of articles per day
- Work for rock-bottom rates as low as $15 per article (or less)
- Work with small clients who have small budgets
- Do little work other than content writing
- Live overseas where the cost of living is lower than in the U.S.
- Complete work for part-time or side income
Their specialty is creating large volumes of content – quickly. Other than content writing services, they don’t do much else. From time to time, the SEO savant might take on other types of work for the same low rates.
Business owners who hire SEO savants for services other than bulk content writing, however, may not be impressed with the quality of their sales emails, press releases, or other copywriting projects.
SEO savants may not have any experience as professional copywriters, which means they won’t be familiar with the elements of effective copy.
That’s not always a bad thing. The SEO savants of the world certainly have their place. Sometimes, new freelance copywriters start out as SEO savants before carving out a more professional, sustainable niche for themselves.
But if you’re looking for a Web copywriter whose expertise transcends SEO content writing, then you probably want…
2. The Career Web Copywriter
Although you can expect to pay more for this kind of copywriter, the results you get should reflect the price.
The career Web copywriter is a full-time professional who makes his or her living by providing a host of Web marketing and PR-related services to clients who demand excellence. Many will specialize in a particular kind of writing or be subject matter experts in a particular vertical.
Depending on who you hire, the career Web copywriter will:
- Conduct extensive research that may include interviews by phone or in person
- Work with a limited number of clients at one time
- Charge professional rates ranging from $50 to $300 per hour.
- Have an impressive portfolio, good recommendations, and ample experience
- Work closely with clients to achieve a desirable result for all parties
- Offer value that transcends writing; they might assist with the technical side of email marketing, content delivery, or press release distribution, for example.
- Treat their craft as a business – just like attorneys, accountants, or consultants
Career Web copywriters do understand SEO and can produce keyword-focused work as their clients demand. But the kinds of clients that hire them are not usually the same ones that hire the SEO savant.
For businesses that believe the quality of their online content should supersede the volume of off-site SEO they can crank out, producing lots of keyword-centric articles for directories just isn’t a priority. These publishers want to demonstrate expertise in their niche, and they know that search engine traffic will inevitably follow when they do so.
In case you haven’t guessed, I’m a career Web copywriter. My clients take a lot of pride in the written collateral they publish – whether it’s print or electronic – and most of the work I do goes through at least a few editorial reviews before it’s published.
As Google continues to improve its search algorithm, the kind of work produced by the SEO savant (in some cases, not all) is becoming irrelevant for many businesses. In 2011, the quality of your content is more critical than ever before, and I see a lot of businesses that were once hiring SEO savants now looking for help from career Web copywriters.
When it comes down to it, creating sustainable relationships is critical both for copywriters and the businesses that hire them. And when those relationships are based on producing high quality work, both parties benefit.
Because high quality work means high quality results. And wasn’t that the point all along?
photo: Janós Fehér