Crowdsourcing genuine copywriting Q and A

Does your FAQ section ring true? Too many business Q&A pages contain questions no genuine, self-respecting ignoramus would dream of asking. They’re obviously made up and too often they’re inappropriately sales-led.  

Rather than dream up a bunch of fantasy Q&As, I decided to crowd source some basic questions from people who know bugger-all about copywriting, then answer them in a blog post.

Getting real with copywriting Q&A

Earlier this week I asked my Facebook friends and Twitter community for their input. And here’s the result:  11 real life copywriting questions that fell out of the exercise, complete with honest answers.

  1. Q – How fast do you write? Pretty fast! It takes me around half an hour to research and write a 500 word blog post or article, web page or landing page. It takes me a minute or so to create a hand crafted Tweet. And it takes ten-ish minutes to write a 100 word product description… you get the picture
  2. Q – What do you charge? It depends on the project. You might want me to edit your website. If the existing copy is pretty good and just needs tidying up, it’ll take less time than a complete rewrite. You might want your web pages to run to 400 or 250 words each. Because the latter will be faster, it’ll cost you less per page. A quote costs nothing, and I won’t sulk if you decide not to go ahead!
  3. Q – What if I hate my copy?  I’ve only come across one person who hated what I’d written in seven years as a freelance writer, and that was all my own fault. As a perfectionist, I’m still kicking myself about it (sorry Mike!) It’s my job to take a decent brief from you and scope the project properly. I always include two sets of amendments in my price and if I take longer than quoted I won’t charge you more. Fair’s fair. If you hate your copy I’ll work on it ’til you’re 100% happy, no extra charge. Unless, of course, you change the brief half way through, in which case I’ll re-quote
  4. Q – What’s your workload like? I’m usually booked a week or two in advance, which is just about perfect. But if you need copy urgently, I can usually shift projects around to meet your deadline. Obviously I prefer at least a week’s notice but if you’re up against it, I’ll do my level best to get your copy ready in time
  5. Q – How long have you been copywriting? 2012 is my seventh year as a freelance copywriter. Before that I worked in direct marketing, with a clutch of well known blue chip companies and SMEs
  6. Q – Do you enjoy your work? I absolutely love it. I’m one of those sad bunnies who’d keep working even if I won the lottery!
  7. Q – Can you write any time or do you need to wait for inspiration to strike first? This is business, and I can slot comfortably into the creative zone whatever my mood. If the going gets tough, ten minutes in the garden is enough to un-block things
  8. Q – Is copywriting creative or logical? It’s a mixture of both, which is why it’s such a pleasure. The logical bit covers stuff like layout, format, SEO, sales-led messaging, calls to action and direct marketing /direct response best practice. The creative bit involves flow, elegance, rhythm and clarity
  9. How do you get inspiration?  I’m lucky. My artistic background helps, and inspiration is there whenever I need it . I’m a dab hand at dreaming up interesting angles and unusual viewpoints, creating and answering arguments and showcasing products and services to their best advantage, even when they’re intrinsically a bit dull
  10. What kind of brief do you need? Some people give me a one-liner or a bullet list. Others give me a full, detailed creative brief. It’s entirely up to you. If I need to know more, I’ll ask. Sometimes people honestly don’t know what they need, so the first draft gives them a direction to follow
  11. What qualifies you to be a copywriter? More than two decades in direct marketing, client and agency side. A lifelong love of words. A keen appreciation of the ins and outs of SEO. And a logical brain, teamed with a creative spirit. I distinctly remember being desperate to learn to write when I was very small. I wrote my first book, The Lonely Gnome, when I was six and it still takes pride of place in our downstairs loo, framed for posterity!