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What Is Web Copy?
Posted 30 September 2003 - 07:13 PM
hmmmm.... All of this is very interesting. I have been reading posts now for about a week. Lots of new words for me. SEO, webcopy, etc... :doh:
Well, my question is this. What is webcopy? And do clients really hire writers that write webcopy only? I mean, as a potential client, would I be interested in contracting with someone that would do the graphic design, then another person that would code it, then another person to do the webcopy, and then another one to do the SEO?
Seems a bit much.... But on the otherhand, most people I have met that are very good at graphic design, can't write a lick. And those that can program, yes I think website coding is now progressed to full fledged programming, can'd do graphics or write a lick. So....all of you seem to work independantly....How often do you work together on projects?
Anyway, not sure if this was the spot for this post, but I just had to let it out.
Posted 30 September 2003 - 08:28 PM
F'rinstance, I know that by focusing on writing I can devote more of my time to what I do best at. I *can* do graphics and web programming, to an extent, but I have limitations. So if I write copy for someone who does SEO, they'll be able to provide their specialized SEO, and I'll be able to provide my specialized copy, and the end result will be better than if either one of us had done both alone.
The secret is to find specialists who are at least aware of the other fields. The nightmare is getting an expensive designer to make you a beautiful site that is totally invisible to the search engines. It happens a lot, though.
So, the lesson to learn is that first and foremost, the site owner has to know what they want the site to do, and make that clear to whoever they contract to do the work!
<edited cuz that didn't make any sense.>
Posted 30 September 2003 - 10:46 PM
To answer your question whether people really have a team of several different people work on a web site, or even outsource different areas of the development, the answer is "yes."
Can most very small businesses afford to do this? "No." But larger firms frequently draw together a team of people to create their web site, and include optimization and SEO copywriting in the package. That's if they're net savvy, and understand the importance of doing this.
Many ignore SEO, or only start doing it when their marketing people, or others tell them, "We really need to do this..."
Other mid-sized businesses will have a beautiful site developed by a web developer, but the site sits at the bottom of search engines forever. After a few years, they then go, "Gee, maybe we need to optimize" if they've heard of it, and want to get more online traffic. At this point, they will hire a firm that optimizes, or ask a copywriter who knows optimization to help them "fix their site."
So in one sense, many firms split up the work a bit. They get their web site up and running, then realize that they aren't getting any traffic, or that no one is buying from them, and THAT'S when they hire in the SEO experts or the copywriters...
Posted 01 October 2003 - 07:19 AM
The three aspects that I think important are SEARCHABILITY, USABILITY and CREDIBILITY. So perhaps the proponents of each of these disciplines can act together as a type of usability test group as the website evolves through the different phases. Every phase from overall concept and website architecture through to the final design must represent a concensus decision of the team.
Posted 01 October 2003 - 09:42 AM
You can handle it either by having one person "do it all", or you can split up the work in any number of ways.
My company sort of threw the website at me and said "fix it" and I did what I could. Perhaps that's the best it could be, given the state of the company. Perhaps a team of experts could make it better. My company couldn't afford a team of experts, though. I don't think the website suffered from having only me, if it had to have only one person-- but that's because I was aware of all the issues that needed to be addressed, or became aware of them as I dealt with the others.
It's not necessary to have people split up into specialties; I'm perfectly adequate as a webdesigner and graphics optimizer and the like. I'm just better as a writer, and for me it makes more sense to focus on that and provide just writing to my clients. Even just editing what they already have can improve on what they have without costing much.
So... you can divide it up however you want, or not divide it at all, but the fact remains that website-production on the whole is a large and complex enough task that there are niches for specialists to fill sensibly.
Posted 01 October 2003 - 09:47 AM
Over the past twenty years I have employeed most of the types of individuals mentioned in my original post. Allthough never a webcopy writer.
My original question and subject of this thread still hasn't been answered. As silly as this question may seem to the majority of users on this forum, I really don't have a good idea of what a web copy writer is or does.
For instance, my ecommerce site markets a wide variety of games, puzzles, etc. We display a variety of items and other "things" on our pages. Would web copy be "everything that is displayed as text" on the pages. Or, perhaps, just the text that is in sentence, paragraph, or story format. Ecommerce sites change almost daily. I am beginning to think that I must have a "full time" writer and or SEO consultant. Which would be very difficult to justify at this stage. Its also hard for me to see how I could contract with a person or firm and get the "almost daily" attention my site would need. Its also hard for me to see the difference between a web copy writer and an SEO consultant. Wouldn't they need to be the same?
Posted 01 October 2003 - 09:57 AM
As far as getting a writer, that depends on the site.
I'd say it might be worth getting a writer to proofread/edit/optimize any major, fixed copy on your site. That is, if it's not worth it to you to have a writer in-house to oversee all the content on your site.
If the written content is not the primary focus of the page, you take it or leave it. Knowing what you need in your copy, you decide how much of it is important to have optimized.
Most, I think, would hire a writer to optimize the most important copy-- i.e. sales and marketing pitches, static product descriptions, and the like. If they thought they couldn't do it as well themselves.
It really depends on your situation.
But, yes: "web copy" is the text on your webpages, and if it's in writing, odds are a good copywriter can probably make it better than it is.
Posted 01 October 2003 - 10:18 AM
That is, if it's not worth it to you to have a writer in-house to oversee all the content on your site.
Usually it's not a matter of worth, rather what you have budgeted or can afford. I can honestly say that I know that it would be "worth" having a writer in-house.
For instance: I think I know much more than the average business person in regards to technology, web sites, the internet, etc. This comes from almost twenty five years of programming, then doing network system integration work, then founding and operating an ISP for 6 years. When I sold the ISP business I decided to start the ecommerce business. Created a business plan, etc, etc. I had absolutely no clue as to how far web developement and SEO had come in the last three years. Thus I had no budget for copy writing or SEO. I did have a budget for the site creation and maintenance. Now I find that my budgeting was not perfect, of course it never is.
Posted 01 October 2003 - 02:23 PM
SheriW - You mentioned that most very small businesses can't afford to hire these professionals to do Web copy, SEO, graphic design, etc. But my question is: "Can they afford NOT to have professionals do these things?"
SO many small online businesses fail due to not having what they need in one of the areas mentioned. So - in essence - they would have been better off (IMO) to perhaps wait until they could afford some or all of the work that needs to be done. I've worked with a lot of small site owners over the years who would have me do one page at a time because that's all they could afford. As the site progressed, so did sales.
Barry - I think you left one thing out of your list (searchability, usability, credibility)... then there's "sales-ability." If the site doesn't attract people from the right target audience and sell to those people in the way they want to be sold to, the other three hold much less of an impact.
Limin - To answer your unanswered question "What is web copy"... it's much more than just words on your site. Just like there is a special talent for writing for the medium of television... there are special considerations for the Web as well.
For instance, on the Web headlines are read first (as opposed to the reverse being true for print (magazines & newspaper)) where graphics are viewed first. That means headlines are even MORE important on the Web than in any other medium.
The shopping habits of men and women are reversed on the Web. Normally women take a long time to shop... looking around and taking it all in. Men are the opposite in brick and mortar stores. They rush in and rush out like wildfire. But... on the Web... those roles have been proven to be reversed. Men are the "browsers" and women are the ones rushing in and out. Your copy needs to be structured for both parties to get what they need.
Things like this make Web copy (and many other differences) make writing Web copy much more of a challenge than just writing "text on a page."
Posted 01 October 2003 - 02:32 PM
Great minds think alike!
Posted 01 October 2003 - 03:44 PM
I like that. "Can you afford NOT to?" I say no but my perspective is different!
It infuriates me when people neglect writing. So often people submit sites for critiques and they've spent all this time on their graphics and their layout, and they don't even think to ask about their content. And I read their site and the copy's either misspelled or incoherent or poorly targeted, and I wonder... how can you NOT pay attention to that?
Hence my fanaticism about mispellings and misuse of words, etc...
Posted 01 October 2003 - 04:11 PM
I just love copy that starts:
"Welcome to my site! I do this and I do that and I also do the other thing. I can show you how to, I... I... I... I..." Who cares about you? Seriously.
It's not about YOU, it's about THEM. If you can't show/tell the visitor what you can do for them and what end results they'll get after working with you or buying your product you might as well cancel your hosting and close it all down.
Sometimes I feel like a broken record, but people just don't get it... IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU... IT'S ABOUT THEM! They are the ones with the money so don't you think you'd better pay attention?
Sorry... got a little passionate there for a minute
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