How to create a copywriting contract - copify

How to create a copywriting contract

You’re a creative person, and you chose a copywriting career because writing and creating new copy is what you want to do. If creativity is your superpower, chances are you don’t really want to spend any time thinking about boring things like accounts and contracts.

However, the fact is, unless you create copy as a hobby, you are running a business, and with that comes the responsibility to have everything in place from a legal point of view.

You’re probably asking yourself, ‘Do I even need a copywriting contract?’ After all, you’ve already agreed with your new client what you’re doing for them and what you’ll charge, so why do you need a contract?

4 reasons you need a copywriting contract

1. First and foremost, a written contract that’s signed by you and your client is what you will rely on if something goes wrong. If the worst happens, you’ve got back up in court. Your client signed your contract, and they agreed to your terms, and that’s strong evidence in your favour.

2. If there are any disputes over work, your contract clearly establishes what the agreed scope of work was, and helps prevent scope creep. It gives you a clear point of reference to decide whether to throw in that extra bit of work your client wants for goodwill; or to firmly point out what was initially agreed, and say that you can accommodate the extra work for X additional amount.

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3. A good contract helps stop the whole back and forth of what to do or what to say if your client has a problem or a disagreement with you. What was agreed is there in black and white, and what to do about that particular situation is right there, too. Does the client want a refund for some reason, for example? Instead of getting worked up about what to say or whether you should offer a refund, you can simply look at what the contract says your refund policy is and go from there.

4. A contract establishes boundaries for both of you. Ever had one of those clients that calls you several times a day and after hours to ‘just check up on how it’s going’? Your contract should lay out when and how updates will be communicated, and what your availability is.

Basically, your contract is protection for both of you so you both know exactly where you stand and what to expect. And it can take the heat and frustration out of a situation if there’s a problem on either side. Instead of having an argument, you can simply point calmly to the appropriate section of the contract, and there’s the answer.

What should be in a copywriting contract?

This isn’t an ultimate or exhaustive list of everything that should be in a contract, because your contract should be particular to the way you run your business, and what you want. It’s not simply about legal protection. It’s about writing down what’s acceptable to you, and how you want to work with your clients.

Also, we’re not solicitors or crystal ball gazers, and we couldn’t possibly know every situation that you might want to include for your specific circumstances.

Having said that, here are the basics:

• Your payment terms – how much the project is in total, when your invoices will be sent, i.e., if you’ve agreed an upfront payment; will your invoice be sent as soon as you finish the work, or on approval; are there staged invoice payments along the way? How will you get paid?

You could also include what will happen if your invoice is not paid on time, including late payment fees and possible further action.

And if you need further advice on that, here’s an excellent article from Carol Tice of Make a Living Writing on how to deal with a client who doesn’t pay on time. Note that she also emphasises that you do need a contract!

• The length and type of the project, and the deadline for delivery.

• When updates will be given to your client, and how communication will be done, whether by email, telephone, or online app, such as Zoom. When your office hours are and when you’re available to talk.

• How many drafts will you do? How many sets of edits will you do? How will you handle input and suggestions?

• Does copyright transfer from you to your client, and when does that happen?

• What happens if the client isn’t satisfied with your work, or decides they no longer need it when you’ve already started. This happens sometimes on magazines, where they’ve been planning a feature, but have made a decision for some reason that they are no longer running it. If you’ve already done the work, there should be room in your contract for a ‘kill fee’ so you still get paid. If you’ve done part of the work and they cancel, you should also get paid for what you’ve done up to that point.

How to create a copywriting contract - copify

• What happens if something happens to you part way through the work – accident, sickness, family emergency, etc. Will you give a refund in full, a partial refund, or offer an alternative such as credit towards their next project?

• What do you do if the client is very difficult to work with, or asks you to do something you aren’t comfortable with, and you want to cancel the contract?

There’s a lot more you could put in, and as we said, you need to consider your individual business needs, but if you have answers to everything above, you’ll be well on your way.

How to create a copywriting contract

Before you agree to work with a client, you should receive a comprehensive brief from them, covering what they want, what their goals are for the copy, and when they need it by. From this, you should be able to copy and paste a lot of the information you need to include in your contract. Here’s an article from Copify’s blog on how to create the perfect brief. While the blog does approach it from the point of view of a client, reading through it will also give you an idea of the type of information you can expect and will need.

You have several options when creating a contract:

• You could hire a solicitor to write one that’s specific to you and your company. It can be expensive, but you will get something completely individual to your business, with the security of knowing it’s been done by a professional, and you are covered.

• You could buy a ready-done pack of legal documents that you can amend to suit from someone like Ash Ambirge or Lisa Fraley.

Lisa Fraley is an attorney in the US and has written all the legal documents you might need for your business.

Ash Ambirge is an amazing woman who runs a business encouraging women to get out there and take the world by storm. That’s not quite how she puts it, which you’ll see when you click through (language warning!) but her business savvy and excellent advice are hard to beat.

She is firm on the subject of whether you need a contract and has also written a brilliant bundle of legal documents you can buy to use in your business. Get on her mailing list to find out more about the kit.

While you’ll probably still need a solicitor to go through and make sure the templates have everything you need for UK law, it will cost you less than starting from scratch.

• Finally, you could download the free template from ProCopywriter, written by John McGarvey, and change your details.

While you’re there, take a look at their other resources, such as brief templates and project trackers.

What sort of language to use

People tend to think of contracts as being scary things, stuffed full of impenetrable legalese and many-syllabled words, but they don’t have to be. A plain English contract is very often appreciated by your clients, and can even reflect your brand.

How to create a copywriting contract - copify 1

If you look at the ProCopywriter contract template mentioned above, you’ll see it’s extremely easy to read, and there’s even some humour in there, but it still covers all the major points that it needs to cover.

Ash Ambirge even takes it further and uses every bit of her personality in her contracts and terms & conditions. It’s part of her brand. While you might not like the language, it’s hard to argue that it’s bland or boring.

Think about how you can do that with your contracts and other legal documents, so not only will you get documents that cover you and your business legally, but you could even enhance your brand, and show your potential customers your personality, and what it’s like to work with you.

* Please note, we’re not solicitors, and nothing in this article is intended to be taken as legal advice.

 

Main image credit: Jessica Spengler
Image credits: perzonseo.comKyle @SuburbanDollar.com, Allen Allen

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what education is needed to become a writer - copify

What education is needed to become a writer?

If you’re considering becoming a writer, you need to first accept that there is a lot of competition in this industry, and you will need to be on the top of your game to make a good living. This is not designed to put you off, but more to make you aware that those who do become successful have put in the time and learnt the necessary qualifications. Here is a helpful overview of what being a writer actually entails, and what education is needed to become a writer.

What does a writer do?

A writer’s job is to communicate a variety of concepts through the written word. Writers can take on many forms, they can explain concepts with simple straightforward instructions, they can entertain with dramatic or humorous stories in scripts and novels, or even persuade you to purchase a product with a witty copy in advertising.

The great thing about writing is that it’s transferable. All you need is a laptop and internet access, then you can work wherever you desire. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately two-thirds of all writers are self-employed, but there are still many who work in-house for companies and marketing agencies.

What education is needed to become a writer?

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A writer’s educational requirements vary on the type of writing they do. Below we will discuss a variety of writing ‘genres’ and techniques along with their corresponding education requirements.

Regardless of what type of professional writer you wish to become, you should develop strong computer skills as most writers do research on the internet as a fundamental part of their work and submit and send their work via email.

Creative writing

To pursue a career in creative writing you will first need to be a creative person. Creative writing can see you writing long fiction novels, witty poems to short stories. Creative writers send their writing to various editors in the hope of publication and remuneration; however, there are opportunities out there for ghost writing.

If you want to freelance with creative writing then technically no educational background is necessary, beyond that of spelling and grammar taught in high school. However, if you want to write creatively for a company, you will need excellent written English skills and you will find it beneficial if you have a bachelor’s degree in creative writing, English or liberal arts. You can also practice your writing by writing every day to perfect the craft, or you could undertake a marketing course available in colleges to help sell your work.

Copywriters

Copywriters use their writing to advertise a product or service and to persuade customers to buy that product or service. If you decide to freelance write then you will usually need some sort of writing experience and be educated to a degree standard. If you are aiming for a fixed position within a company, then those positions usually require a bachelor’s degree in marketing, advertising, business or liberal arts. However, if you have a degree in another subject, a copywriter training course can help you move into this sector.

If you are short on experience, you can write for charities, or community projects to increase your skills. The higher the education and experience, then the higher the career progression. Copywriters can become ‘copy chiefs’ or supervisors who coordinate the work of others.

Technical writers

Technical writers are those who develop technical guides such as quick-start sheets, operations guides or any other style of documentation that is designed to help the general population understand how to use a particular service, machine or product. The education required for this type of writing is typically a bachelor’s degree in English, communications, or of course, technical writing. Some employers may require you to have a major in a ‘technical’ subject such as engineering, medicine or computers or equivalent experience.

Journalists

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Journalists or reporters write stories to explain important events or happenings. This can range from local news, national news or international news. It can also vary depending on genre. For example, fashion journalists will write stories based on trends, runway shows, entertainment news etc, whereas political journalists have a pure focus on an area of politics.

The education required for this type of writing is typically a bachelor’s degree in either communications, English or journalism. However, employers also accept degrees from other areas of study if applicants have related work experience. Remember, communication skills are just as important as writing skills in a journalism role as a high proportion of your writing will come directly from interviews.

Experience is key

To succeed in any role of writing, your experience is just as important as your education. You need to build up a strong portfolio in the style of writing you most enjoy. Experience can be gained through a variety of platforms, including writing for free as a guest blogger on a variety of websites; interning in a local newspaper or magazine; or writing for a non-profit organization.

Regardless of whether you’re just beginning as a writer or you are a professional, you should always be looking for ways to improve your writing skills, find employment and connect with other writers. Professional associations are a great resource for doing this and some brilliant organizations that support writers include The American Society of Journalists and Authors, National Writers Association and Women’s Fiction Writers Association.

More than a degree…

what education is needed to become a writer - copify

Along with possessing the skills of written English, in today’s world, writers need to have a well-rounded skill set to be successful. This includes impeccable language skills in all forms of grammar, written, reading and word usage, digital media skills including the knowledge of basic HTML, CSS, and search engine optimisation and diligence so that writers can check their work for errors, accuracy and overall quality. These skills can be taught and improved online via online courses.

After reading this, it is probably best to jot down what qualifications and experience you currently hold as a writer. Next, identify what necessary qualifications and skills you will need to hold in order to reach your intended position. After that, it’s a not-so-simple case of matching the two up and filling in any necessary requirements. Just remember, it’s never too late to learn a new skill and going back to college or university, or indeed studying a new qualification in your spare time, should be viewed as a step forward, not a step back.

Main image credit: Visha Angelova
Image credits: Michael D BeckwithEsther VargasTayloright

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how to begin a blog post - copify

An expert guide on how to begin a blog post

Are you tired of reading this blog post already?

Hopefully not, though a surprisingly large number of people decide to switch off from a post, after having barely read the introduction.

The reason for this is that the introductions are poorly structured and don’t offer a compelling reason to keep reading. Since you’re here, there’s a good chance you’ve suffered this problem in your own writing and are fed up with people giving your posts the cold shoulder.

Well, it’s time to change all that, and give you a rundown of exactly how to begin a blog post.

What goes into a great blog post introduction?

how to begin a blog post - copifyRegardless of the exact style you write in or what purpose your post has, there are 3 key elements you should look to include in any great introduction. These are:

1. The hook

The hook is usually just one line or shorter, and hooks the reader’s attention, giving them a desire to read the next line.

2. The transition

The transition is what ties the hook into the rest of the post, and leads the reader nicely onto the purpose of why you are writing.

3. The thesis

The thesis is where you summarise the topic that you have decided to discuss, and then give the reader a reason to keep reading.

7 top suggestions on how to start a blog post

When you see it like that, writing a great blog introduction may seem simple and straightforward. Well, most of the time it’s not.

Being able to write great introductions takes time, practice and creativity. But luckily, there are a number of different methods you can use to help give you a helping hand in the right direction.

Here are 7 such methods you can use to start writing killer introductions.

1. Ask a thought-provoking question

If ever you are asked a direct question in any format, you can’t help but think of an answer. This rule applies to the written word, which makes it a useful tool in the copywriter’s toolbox.

Simply think of a relevant yet interesting question and use it to start your post. The reader will immediately wonder why you thought to ask such a question and be hooked into reading more.

Sometimes the easiest way is to get the bulk of your article down first and craft your intro last. That way you can begin with an attention-grabbing question based on a reference you make later in your post.

how to begin a blog post 3 - copify2. Share a shocking fact

Whenever you pick up a newspaper, what’s the first thing you’ll see on the cover? That’s right, some sort of shocking headline.

That’s because the shock factor causes people to stop and actually want to pick up and read the paper. You can apply the same logic by starting your post with a relevant but surprising statistic regarding the issue you wish to discuss in your post.

3. Write against the status quo

Being different is a great way to get noticed, and is a way you can hook the reader’s attention. If you begin your blog post with a crazy thought or unconventional idea you believe in, then the reader may be interested enough to hear the rest of your argument.

Obviously, you don’t want to start writing outrageous statements just for the sake of it, but if relevant don’t be afraid of holding back or offering a different perspective from the status quo.

4. Tell the reader something personal

Your hook is essentially you trying to build an immediate connection between you and the reader. Sharing with them something personal about yourself is a way to immediately give life and personality to your words.

A statement like “I was recently told I have 3 weeks to live”, is a powerful way to immediately set the tone and become intimate with the writer. As you can imagine, this tactic should only be used in certain circumstances, but don’t worry, you don’t always have to be quite that personal.

5. Start with a question somebody asked you

If you are an authority in your niche with any kind of readership, you could use questions you receive as a means to start your posts. It quickly demonstrates that people are asking you for advice and that what you’re saying is worth listening to.

Better yet, you want to try and use thought-provoking or insightful questions to best hook their attention. For example, “Somebody recently asked me, do you think it’s worth mortgaging my house to buy Bitcoin?” It introduces the topic and leads the post off with an interesting topic of discussion. If you’re stuck for other questions to raise around your field of expertise, Answer The Public is a good resource.

6. Share a story of your successhow to begin a blog post 2 - copify

If people are reading your post because the title suggests you will answer a question they desperately need an answer to, then why not start with a success story? It immediately validates that you know what you are talking about, and can genuinely empathise with the issue they are facing.

This is similar to the point above and is best used when you do have some sort of readership or are imparting some form of expertise that you have built up over time. Better yet, it works well for readers who already know who you are, as well as those who’ve never heard of you before.

7. Get to the point

This technique applies to almost all aspects of your writing, and it is especially useful to do in your introductions. Rather than lead into a long and tedious description as to why you are writing about the topic, just tell them.

It doesn’t need to be as basic as “here is your problem, and here’s what you should do”, but should be along those lines in terms of honesty and forthrightness. People will appreciate the genuine help, without all the waffle.

Rounding off

Hopefully, now, you have a much firmer understanding of how to begin a blog post. The great thing about writing is that everyone and anyone has the ability to get better and improve their abilities.

Taking some time to understand the science behind a great introduction will help you with all future posts you write. If you’re stuck for inspiration, just pick one of the 7 suggestions above and get writing.

After some trial and error, you will quickly identify a few techniques that work best for you. Then, once you hit publish, just sit back and watch your fan base flourish.

Got any other tips on how to begin a blog post? Share them in the comments below.

 

Main image credit: Derrick Austinson
Image credits: David BleasdaleBenson Kuaimanka

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Learn from the best 6 examples of good copywriting

Learn from the best: 6 examples of good copywriting

A great copywriter has a firm understanding of the target audience they are writing for, and how they should best style their text. They also understand that the sort of copy they write will depend largely on the format in which it is presented. What this means is that there is no straightforward answer for how to write the best copy, as it depends entirely upon who will be reading it and under what circumstances it is needed. So, to help give you a thorough understanding of what constitutes good copywriting, here are some examples taken from a number of different uses.

Landing page

The landing page is an integral part of any website as it needs to quickly draw the visitor in and give them a reason to keep exploring your site. The text needs to demonstrate your brand and very concisely lend enough information to intrigue them and leave them wanting more.

Grammarly

Grammarly isn’t just a great tool for writers, it’s also an excellent example of crafting landing page copy that creates a sense of need. First and foremost it adheres to the first rule of sales writing by putting the reader at the heart of the content, with an emphasis on ‘you’ and ‘your’ over ‘us’ and ‘we’. The content also leads with the benefits (saving users from committing grammatical faux pas) and emphasises its USP as going ‘beyond the basic spell check’, being able to be integrated into a range of other services.

Along with a strong, snappy active voice, Grammarly’s offering is compounded by a reference to its team of leading linguistic authorities and testimonials from high-profile users. All this culminates in the solid call to action to ‘join more than 10 million happy Grammarly Chrome users today’…for free. On top of that, its design uses graphics to progress the argument and highlight how the product works without the user having to take any action such as clicking on a video.

FAQs

One of the most important parts of any website’s copy is the FAQ section. Before making a purchase, most customers will visit the FAQ as it summarises the important aspects of what they are about to purchases, and answers any crucial questions. All answers need to be concise, professional and to properly address any concerns the customer has.

Card Against Humanity - Examples of good copywriting

Card Against Humanity

Card Against Humanity is perhaps one of the greatest examples of a site that knows their customer to a tee and used that knowledge to target their prose in a unique and humorous way. Their FAQ section is perhaps the best example of this, whereby all answers are in some way comical, and at least a little offensive. It may not suit everyone’s taste, but it certainly suits that of their customers.

Social media

Social media is a powerful tool that any business can use to build a following of loyal customers and it’s no surprise that many organisations now turn to professional copywriters for their posts. Here is an example of good copywriting from a company that is leading the way in great corporate social media.

Innocent

Innocent are well renowned for their strong performance on social media. They post regularly on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and often combine powerful imagery with simple two-line quotes. They continuously find a way to be humorous and young, and they have used this great copywriting ability to accumulate millions of followers across all accounts. Check out their reply to a fan’s comment, they even put witty thought into seemingly pointless responses.

About page

Much of the time, you will land on a website via Google or from a link someone sent you and you simply want to find out more about who created the site and why. In such a case, great copy from “about” pages are able to demonstrate not so much what you do, but why you do it and why people should trust what you have to say.

MAG - examples of good copywriting

MAG

MAG (Mines Advisory Group) have a mission to save the lives of innocent people who live in war-torn areas where mines are still a huge risk to their daily lives. This section of their about page helps to paint a very vivid story about the risks that people face. The copy is clear and to the point, but really touches your heart by drawing out the fears that such people face every day. In just one page of text, you understand what MAG do, and you are left wondering how you can get involved and help out.

Product descriptions

Getting people to view what you have to sell is just one part of the battle. The other part is convincing them that what you are offering is worth paying for and will bring them added value. This is where compelling product descriptions come in.

Brew Dog

Brew Dog produces speciality craft beers that they claim are above and beyond all the typical bar lagers and ales. To catch their readers’ attention and show that what they offer is unique, they have clearly put great care into each one of their product descriptions. Every item sounds rebellious and interesting and any craft beer lover would be keen to give one a try.

Blogs

Captivating blogs that appeal to your audience are a fantastic way of staying in touch with your readers and offering added value after a purchase. They are also great for attracting new audiences via SEO, and great copy is vital in showing you offer quality content and making them want to learn more about you.

The Blonde Abroad - examples of good copywriting

The Blonde Abroad

One of the best examples of good copywriting comes from The Blonde Abroad who is a female travel blogger. Within the last 5 years, she has managed to build one of the most popular travel blogs in the world. Getting to the top of such a competitive niche means understanding your audience and providing useful, interesting information in a clear manner. Such great blogs mean more people follow her on social media, which in turn means she has a greater reach the next time she writes and publishes a post. Kiersten puts much of her success down to having found her voice and a way of speaking that resonated with her intended audience.

These examples of good copywriting demonstrate the power of great text, used for a number of different purposes. If after reading this you’ve decided your site could do with some updating, or that you need help finding the “voice” of your site, it may be time to hire a professional copywriter. Great copy has the power to display your brand in a far more positive light and can attract a lot more customers than boring straightforward text possibly could. Copify offers copywriting services for all manner of different needs, so get started by viewing what’s on offer here.

 

Main image credit: JoanDragonfly
Screenshot credits: Card Against Humanity, MAG, The Blonde Abroad

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