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.

How to create a copywriting contract - copify 2

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, Allen Allen

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What is an SEO copywriter

What is an SEO copywriter?

Most businesses know that SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, and Search Engine Land defines it as “…the process of getting traffic from the ‘free,’ ‘organic,’ ‘editorial’ or ‘natural’ search results on search engines.”

Taking that a little further, SEO copywriting is a specific form of content writing that works to rank online content higher in the search engines, and drives targeted traffic from the search engines to your website. SEO copywritten content contains keywords and phrases to allow the search engines to classify content and decide how relevant it is, in order to serve up the best results to their users.

Put simply, SEO copywriting is the ability to write excellent content that suits both the search engine bots and human readers. It shouldn’t sound like it’s been written around keywords, even though it has. Great SEO content should sound entirely natural, while still targeting the required keywords and phrases.

According to HubSpot, “61% of marketers say improving SEO and growing their organic presence is their top inbound marketing priority”, so SEO copywriting is a skill that’s worth developing.

You can read about SEO copywriting in more detail on our blog.

What is an SEO copywriter?

Someone with the skill to manage the finely balanced art of keeping both audience and search engines happy. Someone who can produce educational, entertaining, authentic and authoritative content for their readers, while seamlessly blending the right keywords and phrases into the copy that will get that content rocketing up the search engine results.

what is an SEO copywriter

SEO copywriters are both experts in writing content and experts in search engine optimisation.

Some people still think that not caring about quality and stuffing a bunch of keywords into a blog post will fool Google and get their website found. While that might work for a little while, the second Google finds that sloppy, keyword-stuffed content is the second that business’s website disappears to the bottom depths of whatever passes for website hell, never to be seen again.

What does an SEO copywriter do all day?

Much like any other copywriter, they’ll have a variety of things to do that are nothing to do with writing: admin, sending out invoices and doing accounts, marketing their business, networking, taking client meetings, checking emails and project planning.

SEO copywriters often work with other professionals as part of a team to bring a project to a successful conclusion. They might work with web designers, content strategists, programmers, app builders and social media marketers.

And when they do get to the writing, just like any other writer, they could be creating anything from ebooks, blogs, sales copy, articles and web copy to social media posts.

The difference between an SEO copywriter and any other writer is that every brief is carefully researched to understand what keywords and phrases should be included to boost the content in the search engines (if the client hasn’t already supplied these). And an SEO copywriter knows how to smoothly and invisibly weave those keywords and phrases throughout the copy in a way that sounds completely natural and unforced.

What is an SEO copywriter That’s not to say that other writers ignore SEO and keywords, because they don’t, but SEO copywriters are specialists in this area.

It is the SEO copywriter who writes the type of content that will drive traffic, increase search engine rankings, grab the attention of the client’s audience and improve conversion rates.

Here’s an idea of the process an SEO copywriter goes through with a piece of content:

  1. Select keywords and phrases that people are actually searching for on your topic.
  2. Plan out the page or blog post to provide the best value for the audience, and to engage and entertain.
  3. Write, while weaving the keywords and phrases throughout the content so that the copy is completely seamless and natural sounding.
  4. The SEO copywriter will write a captivating meta description, which is what will appear in the search results and draw the eye to read the copy.
  5. The writer will also create title tags, select categories for the article, add the keyword to the alt text of any images and more, to get your article found.
  6. Add in internal and external links with converting anchor text.

Note that none of that has anything to do with keyword stuffing. It’s not forcing or attempting to cheat their way to a better ranking. It’s simply writing the copy correctly for both the human audience and for the search engines.

“72% of marketers say relevant content creation was the most effective SEO tactic.” – Ascend2 via HubSpot. Given that statistic, it’s highly unlikely that the job of SEO copywriter is going to disappear anytime soon.

If you’d like to learn how to make SEO copywriting your career, check out this helpful article from Heather Lloyd-Martin of SuccessWorks.

The benefits of hiring an SEO copywriter for your business

  • Higher ranking in the search resultsWhat is an SEO copywriter
  • More organic, targeted traffic
  • Lower bounce rates on your site, with people sticking around longer to read your brilliant content
  • Increase in social sharing
  • Better conversion rates, whether that’s reading another page, asking for a quote, signing up to your newsletter or buying something
  • More people contacting you via emails or phone calls – basically more leads!
  • Building your mailing list quicker
  • Having someone around who can catch any SEO problems on your site and fix them
  • Working with someone who can help you improve your site and your user experience
  • Less stress because you have someone you can rely on to do your copywriting so you can focus on other things
  • More income due to… all of the above!

SEO copywriting, like any other copywriting, isn’t just about being found in the search engines. It’s about providing brilliant content that grabs your readers, builds trust, and engages them by being authentic and passionate about your topic.

“When trust sells, what’s the real message the consumer is trying to convey to marketers? Make it real, and we’ll stick around.” – Marketing Insider Group

Main image credit: SandCrestSEO
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writing about us for a website

Writing an About Us page for a website that converts

Many companies make the mistake of talking all about themselves on their About Us page. It’s an easy mistake to make given the title of the page, but it’s not about you. It’s about what benefits your business can bring to your customers.

So, if your About Us page shouldn’t just be a long history of the company, your staff and your experience, what should you do instead?

Create your best first impression!

Until they land on your website, it’s entirely possible that your prospects haven’t heard of you before, so there’s a lot of work to do with your website in general, and your About Us and Home pages, in particular, to take them from ‘never heard of you’ to know, like and trust.

Here’s a handy list if you’re struggling when writing About Us for a website:

1. Answer ‘WIIFM?’

You need to answer that age-old question, “What’s in it for me?”.

writing about us for a website

If ever there was a place for your value proposition, this is it. Your value proposition is your statement on why your visitor should buy your product or your service over any other, and choose your company over any other, too, and it’s vital that your About Us page answers that question.

Given how many websites there are on the internet right now, your prospect has a dizzying array of distraction at their fingertips, along with the knowledge that you’re not the only company on the internet that does what you do.

You’re basically qualifying your prospects with this page, and your Home page. Your potential customers are trying to find out if you are for them, i.e., can you really help, and will they get the results they need?

If you don’t answer those questions to your potential customer’s satisfaction, they’ll likely disappear onto the next website along, and you’ll have lost a lead.

2. Who are you?

While your entire About page shouldn’t be an essay on you and your company, you’ll still need to tell them something about you.

People buy from people after all.

Visitors are reading your About Us page to find out who runs the company and if they like you. They want a sense of who you are, and your personality, to find out if they will like working with you.

People also buy because of their emotional response to a brand, so make a connection, be you!

Even here, however, it’s still about your customers. Yes, you formed your company in 1947. What that means for your customers is that you have 70 years’ experience and the knowledge to provide the service they need and get the results they want. Otherwise, why should they care?

Frame your company story in terms that show what the advantage is to your clients.

3. A strong hook

Attention spans are very short these days, and you have seconds to writing about us for a website grab someone, engage them, and keep them reading.

What’s special about your company that will make people want to read on? Start your page with that.

  • Is it a huge, ‘can’t argue with that’ benefit that they can’t get anywhere else?
  • Do you have massive numbers to show off – number of people you’ve helped, blogs you’ve written, sites you’ve built, traffic you’ve attracted?
  • Have you got celebrity endorsements or a huge award?
  • Do you have a strong stance that sets you apart, that’s different from what everyone else in your industry thinks?

Whatever it is, make it stand out at the top of the page to grab your audience.

4. Social proof

What can you provide to show that other clients have used your services, or bought your products, and loved the results?

  • Do you have industry awards you can show off?
  • Add some testimonials from satisfied customers. Even better if they are very specific about how you helped them and have statistics on the difference you made. ‘They increased our traffic by 200% in one week’ is far more convincing than ‘We got more traffic.’
  • Show off your own statistics if you have them. If you’re a sales guru and you’ve just hit over a million sales for a company in the space of 3 months, you can bet your potential clients want to know about it.
  • Do you have online reviews? If you do, get them on your site! “88% have been influenced by an online customer service review when making a buying decision.” – Zendesk.

The more actual facts and figures you can use to prove your value, the better, but again, don’t go overboard. Always keep in mind that this is about the customer when you write your website copy.

5. Use visuals

A wall of text is extremely off putting, and will more than likely cause your visitors to click away, but if you can add some of your statistics as an infographic, that’s much more likely to grab their attention.

Break up your text with enticing images and graphics that reflect your company personality and your brand, or try adding a couple of short videos to introduce yourself and how you can help.

Don’t forget – however much you dislike having your photograph taken – that people want to see you! They want real images of you and your team, not stock photos that might as well be cardboard cutouts.

6. Add a Call to Action (CTA)

You’ve caught their attention and managed to get them to read your About Us page, so the final thing you need to do is give them a Call to Action, or it’s all been for nothing.

writing about us for a website

What do you want them to do? Sign up for your newsletter? Look at your Services page? Ask for a quote?

Pick ONE. Only one. If you put all of your possible CTAs on your site, people will be overwhelmed and won’t know what to do. And people who can’t decide tend to do… well, nothing.

After all that work, you don’t want to send that juicy lead off to your competitors because you have too many CTAs.

Final checklist:

• Is there a strong hook to draw your prospect in to read on?

• Have you clearly described the benefits for your customer?

• Have you answered, ‘What’s in it for me?’

• Have you put across your personality and shown your likeability?

• Are you talking directly to your customer, using mostly ‘you’ and ‘your’, not ‘we’, ‘our’ and ‘I’?

• Have you qualified your prospect and show that your company is for them?

• Have you provided social proof – testimonials, awards, or statistics?

• Is your content visual, and have you included staff photographs that are full of personality?

• Do you have a clear, strong, single Call to Action at least once on the page?

If you’ve been putting off writing your About Us page because of that whole “Oh, but I hate writing about myself, and I don’t know what to say” thing, the good news is that writing an About Us for a website isn’t like that at all.


Main image credit: Free Stock Photos
Image credits: SandCrestSEOSteven LilleyStacie DaPonte

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What does a digital copywriter do

What does a digital copywriter do?

When most people think about the term ‘copywriter’, they imagine someone in an ad agency who writes those long-form sales letters and eye-catching captions for online and print ads. And for some copywriters that’s true.

A digital copywriter might specialise in one form of copywriting, or work across several different types, but basically, what they do is write words that sell something, whether it’s a product or a service.

A digital copywriter differs from a digital content writer simply by the fact that copywriters write to sell, and content writers write to educate.

While they use many of the same skills as copywriters who write offline materials, such as printed brochures, posters, catalogues and leaflets, and while there may be some crossover in their job, digital copywriters concentrate only on online content, such as website landing page copy, blog and article writing, crafting compelling social media posts, and writing emails.

You might be a technical copywriter, a marketing copywriter, an advertising copywriter, a medical copywriter… What does a digital copywriter do 1There are so many options to choose from that, whatever your background and experience, chances are there’s a copywriting job that will suit you.

To illustrate the difference between content writing and copywriting, let’s look at the role of the technical copywriter:

Technical writers put together user guides and technical manuals for products, often writing manuals that engineers will use when maintaining or repairing an item.

Technical copywriters, on the other hand, have expertise in a particular technology, science or engineering field, but their copy is written to sell an item rather than to teach how to use it or repair it.

Their knowledge is needed to put across the highly technical benefits in a clear and appealing manner so that potential buyers understand why they should purchase.

So, what does a digital copywriter do all day?

While ‘write copy’ is correct, it’s not all a copywriter does.

Whether they are freelance or they work for a company, there are plenty of other things involved in a digital copywriting job.

a) Meeting clients

What does a digital copywriter do Agency writers have to meet and deal with the clients that come through the agency, while freelance writers often meet potential clients in order to persuade them to use their service.

Either way, there will be an initial meeting, either in person or via software such as Zoom, to establish what the client wants, their goals and aims for the copywriting project, who their target market is, their brand voice and how the project will move forward.

After that, especially if it’s a large project, there are likely to be further meetings to check progress, make adjustments, if necessary, and handle edits and give feedback.

b) Managing projects

Not every copywriter has the luxury of just writing all day. Some of them have to manage multiple projects, establish timelines, ensure they can meet deadlines, and allocate work to other writers or to other creatives, such as web designers or graphic designers.

A good proportion of a typical week can be allocated to planning.

c) Research

While copywriters often have a wide knowledge of many different subject areas, everyone has their favourites, and sometimes projects require that research is done before any writing can be put on the page.

Writers may need to look up statistics, research a particular subject more deeply, look up who the experts are in a particular area, or even learn how to use a new software or product before they can write about it.

d) Interviewing

A digital copywriter might need to leave the comfort of their office, and meet experts to interview for an article. They might want to get quotes from people who use a product or service, or do a detailed interview with a company CEO.

e) Editing

No writer produces a perfect first draft, no matter how experienced they are, so editing is a vital skill. Not only that, but sometimes clients haven’t given enough of a brief or they change their minds on what they want, and edits have to be made to get the right result.

f) Sourcing images

Clients often prefer the copywriter to find and supply the perfect images for their copy. With such a huge range of stock photo sites online, you’d think that would be easy, but if the client wants something very specific, looking for just the right shot can take time, and should be factored in when billing.

g) Planning and implementing marketing campaigns

What does a digital copywriter do 2

While this might not necessarily be what you’d expect to find in a digital copywriting job, some copywriters do offer a full service that includes running the whole marketing campaign.

h) Admin, accounts and the bits that aren’t creative

Sorry to break it to you, but it’s not all sipping cappuccinos while throwing out sexy slogans and being creative. Even digital copywriters get to do admin tasks, such as organising work into files, billing, chasing invoices, dealing with clients, answering emails and other fun stuff that goes with working in an office.

What do digital copywriters write?

Whatever their clients need! Blog posts, case studies, advertorials, articles, ebooks, online magazine copy, social media content, email sequences and a whole lot more.

You can read more about the different types of copywriting in our article.

Skills needed:

Copywriters work across different industries, clients and subjects, so adaptability is a must. But what other skills might you need?

• Great writing skills (obviously!)
• Excellent grammar, spelling and punctuation skills
• The ability to adapt to different client tones of voice
• Organisational skills
• Time management
• People skills
• The ability to look at your own work from a distance and edit it
• The ability to work on more than one project at once
• Project management skills

While digital copywriting is a fun, varied and challenging job, you need to be able to keep a lot of balls in the air at once to do the job well, so one other thing to consider is that you do need to make time for yourself, and watch that you get your work/life balance right. An exhausted copywriter isn’t a creative one, and you’ll do yourself and your clients no favours by working yourself to the point of burnout.

If you think digital copywriting might be for you, it really can be a brilliant career, with the chance to manage your own time and your own projects, work with creative people and even work from home in your pyjamas, if you want to.

If you’d like to learn more, Red-Fern have a really useful article on improving as a digital copywriter and you can read our own guide on how to become a copywriter.


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