When I talk to business owners about copywriting and content marketing, I usually get one of two reactions:
Oh my God, we totally need that! I can’t write at all!
Do I really need to pay someone for that? I’m just a ___ with a brick and mortar shop. I don’t sell online. I don’t have much text on my website.
If you’re in the first group, rock on (and hey, take a look at how I can help lovely business owners like you).
If you’re in the second group…
Look, I’m not one of those marketing types who’s going to insist you “need” to be on every platform imaginable or you “need” to use all the strategies and techniques that seem to work flawlessly for everyone else. All you really “need” to do with your business is make money (how much is up to you) and feel good about the work you’re doing and what you’re putting out in the world.
And taxes, I guess.
But I would argue that writing, good writing, will help with that first need. Like, a lot. More than fussing with the front window display or going to a networking meet-up.
First, let’s establish:
Your business needs words.
I write profiles of local business for a weekly column in the newspaper. I have find, research, and visit these businesses every week. I can’t tell you how often I choose not to profile a business because they don’t have a semi-complete or coherent website, or no website at all.
Literally all it would take is a free or very inexpensive Wordpress site with your hours, location, contact info, and a short About page to get someone like me to visit your shop and then write something that will bring you brand-spanking-new customers (seriously, I regularly hear from business owners saying they got a spike in visits and calls the week after their profile is published).
But if your site doesn’t exist, your domain name has expired, or the info isn’t clear and easy to find, I’ll pass you over and feature someone down the street instead.
(Not having a website isn’t a total kiss of death. It helps immensely if you have active social media profiles with all the “About” info filled out on your Facebook page.)
It would be super fantastic if customers just magically found you while walking around, but in most cases, that doesn’t happen. You have to tell them you’re there and what you’re about.
So in general, I would say most businesses could benefit from, at minimum, a website and a couple social media profiles (not all the profiles). A regularly-published blog and regularly-published email newsletter are very big bonuses.
Depending on your business, you could also probably use content like e-books, white papers, or e-courses. Maybe a Kickstarter campaign? A podcast or YouTube channel? And hey, what about print? Flyers, booklets, brochures, coupons?
All of those need words.
So, okay, maybe you’re thinking, yeah, this chick has a point. But I took English in school, why can’t I do this myself? It’s my business, who knows it better than me?
Well, skeptical reader, here’s the thing:
Writing takes a lot of time.
Dude, aren’t you busy? You’re managing inventory. Coordinating schedules with vendors. Training employees. Managing the books. Oh, and actually working with your customers. At least with Instagram you can snap a picture, type up a caption right then and there and post it without thinking too much.
But a blog post? A newsletter? Updating your website because it hasn’t been touched since you opened four years ago?
Look, writing is hard. And it’s something that kinda has to be done on your own, alone in a room, free of distractions. And when was the last time that happened for you?
For way too many business owners, they put “write blog post” on their to-do list every week, and every week, multiple things come up and they never get around to it.
Even if they could carve out a couple hours, they don’t use it to write that post because...well, because like I said, writing is hard. (Secret: it’s hard for me too! It’s hard for all writers. We act like it’s easy because we want to seem professional and capable or something but really, it’s still hard for us. The difference is largely that we have--or are more able to make--the time to do it.)
And let’s address that skeptical comment up there about “no one knowing your business better than you.” That’s true, but it’s often why you of all people should not be writing your own stuff.
Especially if you do something technical, like develop complicated websites or practice property law or do whatever it is that CPAs do, and your audience tends to be non-techy people. If you write your own website, it will likely be unintelligible to your audience.
I mean, I’ve seen About pages for construction companies that don’t actually tell me anything about what they do, which is build stuff.
When you’re an expert in your field, you need someone to help you translate exactly what you do so your audience can understand and see value in it. You need a skilled writer who can not just share your story, but share it in a way that reaches and resonates with the right people.
Writing maybe isn’t in your skill set.
AND THAT IS OKAY.
That’s why I’m here. Me and literally millions of others who see incomplete sites and sigh, who see badly written sites and cringe, who see people misusing apostrophes and scream internally. LET US HELP YOU.
After all, you didn’t start your furniture upcycling business because you love staring at a blank Word doc every day. You started it because you love visiting estate sales and combing Craigslist for hidden jewels and sanding and sawing and painting and gluing and stuff.
So, great. You do that and let me write the description of the piece, how you found it, what you did to give it new life, the kind of home it would be perfect for. Then it finds that perfect home faster and your bank account goes cha-ching and you get to start on the next piece. Easy. Well, maybe not easy, but easier than when you were trying to do everything yourself.