Irritated....articles, e-books "not copywriting?"

29 replies
I saw on facebook someone looking for a copywriter. I responded. First, they didn't take the time to go through my site (all 5 or so pages) but more to the point responded "article writing, ebooks are not copywriting, please no more replies, not teaching this." So, my question is: sales page, articles, ebooks, is that not copywriting? You are writing to give info or make a sale.

I guess my professional pride got stung a bit, because I'm pretty sure that it is. And it certainly is NOT lowbrow which is the vibe I got.

Sorry, I usually don't get this irritated. I just mentioned that there is a whole forum that would probably disagree.

I could be wrong, and am curious as to opinions.
#article #copywriting #ebook #irritatedcan #salespage #writing
  • Profile picture of the author cypherslock
    hmmm....so its a higher level...damn. ok I was wrong then.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[989690].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Hesster
    It depends on which definition of copywriting you mean. If you look through books on copywriting such as The Well-Fed Writer or The Copywriter's Handbook, there are many different types of copy. In the broadest definition, copy can be any commercial writing, anything from the script of a radio commercial to articles in a company newsletter, to a non profit organization's annual report.

    Some people prefer to take a narrower definition see copy only as sales material, and others narrow it down even further by limiting the term to direct response copy. I've even heard people say that TV commercial scripts aren't 'real' copy.

    Personally, I prefer the broader definition. To me, copy is any business related writing.

    Articles I'd say are copy, as long as they're produced for a business purpose. Bob Bly lists articles as one of the copywriting services he provides on his web page. You want to go tell him they're not copy? Article writing may have gotten the redheaded stepchild rep of the copywriting world because of all those third world 'writters' without grasp of English grammar willing to work for peanuts, but they're still copy. A lot of copywriters still write articles for stuff like company newsletters and get paid.

    E-books, IMHO it depends on the subject.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[989713].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author cypherslock
    That's personally my view. Anything that entices a prospect your page or gets them to hit that buy button, or educates them to make that choice is copy. No sense in pigeon holing things. Copy for the ultimate purpose of a sale is copy no matter what its form.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[989818].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author cypherslock
    Don't think I will.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[990083].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Zeus66
    I think the purpose of the written words is at the crux of the matter. For example, a lot of content is there simply to provide information or opinion. When the motive behind writing copy is not merely to inform, but is also designed to get the reader to do something (a conversion), then it becomes "copywriting." Can articles be an example of this? Of course. Lots of article marketers use articles specifically to pre-sell readers. The conversion isn't a direct sale, but rather a link click. A sales page, a squeeze page... also copywriting, but with a more tangible and direct result (profit or a new list member).

    I suppose you could even argue that content on non-commercial blogs/sites that is designed just to inform or editorialize is also a form of copywriting, in that you want people to be impressed enough to bookmark your blog/site and come back. Isn't that a conversion as well? You might not be enriching yourself monetarily, but you do get "paid" in the form of a bigger following and wider reach.

    It's not a slam-dunk either way.

    John
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[990093].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    The division between article writing and 'copywriting' is an artificial one
    for the purpose of the Warrior Forum. I also offer article writing as
    part of my copywriting services, but the forum prefers to keep this
    section of the board for direct response copy only.

    At least that's my impression. And I guess this decision was made
    by popular vote.

    -Ray Edwards
    Signature
    The most powerful and concentrated copywriting training online today bar none! Autoresponder Writing Email SECRETS
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[990190].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Loren Woirhaye
    On the internet the term "copywriting" among marketers usually
    means direct-response sales copy. "salesmanship in print" as
    they say.

    I prefer a broader definition myself because I recognize white
    papers, articles, brochures, everything written a business puts
    out about itself, to be copy and it should all work together
    to create an image and a brand.

    When a marketer has an ebook he wants to sell however
    he wants a salesletter and in that case he's probably thinking
    of copywriting as an investment so he can sell it and make
    a fistful of money. He's not looking for a product writer or
    a bum-marketing writer (articles).

    Anyhow - it's a good investment of your time and resources
    to learn about the hard-sell direct-response form of copywriting
    because it pays well and being capable of doing it will increase
    your value to your clients.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[990207].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Collette
    Originally Posted by cypherslock View Post

    I saw on facebook someone looking for a copywriter. I responded. ...I guess my professional pride got stung a bit....
    First off, if the OP on Facebook didn't specify the kind of copy he/she was looking for a copywriter to write, he/she isn't clear about what copywriters do. So don't get insulted.

    I suspect the OP got a load of unusable responses, simply because he/she wasn't specific in defining what was needed. Which made the OP pretty crabby by the time your response showed up. Not your fault.

    "Copy" is everywhere. The writing on the back of your cereal box is "copy". The instructions for putting together your Ikea bookcase is "copy". A White Paper is "copy". Ads meant to enhance brand image use "copy" that is not designed to stimulate a direct purchase.

    So if you think of someone who writes "copy" as a "copywriter" or "copy writer" you're looking at a pretty broad field.

    The reason copywriters specify their area(s) of service as "article writing, "sales copy", "direct response", "SEO", etc., is to help the prospect figure out if they're in the right place.

    In your case, an article writer may write an article that is specifically supposed to educate. Such an article would typically not contain a CTA.

    Or, you can use an article as the first stage in a multi-step selling process. In which case, the article would contain a CTA or hotlink to the sales or order page.

    One type of article is "sales" copy. The other is not. So if I consider myself primarily a "direct response copyywriter", I may also list "article writing" as one the services I offer. However, it's up to me to make sure that my prospect understands that the articles I write are intended to make the reader take action.

    And e-books, depending on how they're used, sort of straddle the line between copywriting and ghost-writing.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[990332].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Collette
      Little anectdotal P.S. re:
      Originally Posted by Collette View Post

      ...if the OP on Facebook didn't specify the kind of copy he/she was looking for a copywriter to write, he/she isn't clear about what copywriters do...
      Just a few weeks ago, there was an ad on my local Craigslist seeking a "Director of Marketing"

      Followed by long list of "must-haves"...

      Followed by: Salary - $12/hr.

      ummmn... that works out to @23K a year. For a Marketing DIRECTOR. In America.

      Whaddya think the results of THAT ad were?

      Because clearly - this company has NO clue what "marketing" is.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[991160].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author cypherslock
    We've made peace, so all is well. And you're right it wasn't specific, and I did get my back up, as I (like all of us) have worked very hard to get myself to the level I'm at (I remember some of my first articles and PRs....YIKES!) but like I said we have made peace, and I think the next logical step for me is to invest some time and energy into the hard sell sales page style.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[990647].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author colmodwyer
    Most "copywriters" are fairly snobbish about the definition - and I think rightly so - because you get a lot of $1 article writers who reckon they can write "proper" sales copy which isn't so.

    It's a whole skill unto itself. And probably the hardest in the writing spectrum.

    If you say you're a copywriter, most sensible business owners are going to ask to see the 25 page sales letter you wrote the converted like gangbusters... As opposed to your article on why you shouldn't exercise in the morning.

    Even though that article is selling the idea of why you shouldn't exercise in the morning, and is there for, arguably copy... Most folks won't call it sales copy, and they won't call the writer a copywriter.

    Obama's election speechwriter for example, is arguably a copywriter because his mission was persuasion, but you would call him a speechwriter... Not a copywriter.

    Am I making sense?

    Colm

    Because clearly - this company has NO clue what "marketing" is
    Along with most marketing directors.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[991327].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Collette
      Originally Posted by colmodwyer View Post

      ....you get a lot of $1 article writers who reckon they can write "proper" sales copy which isn't so.

      It's a whole skill unto itself. And probably the hardest in the writing spectrum.
      Quite so. Which is why it bugs me when people don't properly specify what kind of "copy" they write. It would make life a lot easer for everyone if people who write "copy" identified themselves as "article writer", "content writer" and so forth.

      Heck, even within "copywriting" there are several spectrums. Advertising copywriters don't always write to sell. Direct response copywriters always do. Marketing copywriters may write to sell an image or brand, but not necessarily to provoke an action.

      Originally Posted by colmodwyer View Post

      If you say you're a copywriter, most sensible business owners are going to ask to see the 25 page sales letter you wrote the converted like gangbusters... As opposed to your article on why you shouldn't exercise in the morning.
      For "sensible" substitute "knowledgable". On the client side ignorance is rampant. Witness the plethora of complaints from people who hire "copywriters" for pennies an hour. And then are surprised when they receive a hugely padded out 300-word article that barely even has a CTA.

      Originally Posted by colmodwyer View Post

      Obama's election speechwriter for example, is arguably a copywriter because his mission was persuasion, but you would call him a speechwriter... Not a copywriter.

      Am I making sense?

      Colm
      Absolutely. But I think the definition of "copy" is bigger than "words used to sell" or "words used to persuade".

      If you talk to, say, a publisher of instructional manuals, they will say they need a writer to produce "the copy" for the manuals. They're certainly not looking for copy with a Dan Kennedy approach. But they refer to the content they need as, "the copy".

      But, make no mistake, I am squarely in the camp that believes that a "copywriter" is an entirely different animal from a "copy writer". And seriously wishes that people would get a clue.

      Yeah. I'm a copysnob. And I sleep just fine at night.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[991776].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author Mark McClure
        Slightly OT:

        There are buyers on the freelance writing sites asking for "keyword rich sales pages" - helps keep their costs down :-)

        I suspect many of these are genuinely confused as to what direct response copy is all about - as per this WF board's understanding. And so they get the low cost article writers also stepping up to the plate with a $50 sales page.

        And run, don't walk, when you read "This should be an easy job for anyone who knows what they're doing" in a job description.

        Translation: the more skilled you are the less time it should take, and that means cheaper for me - they're clearly thinking in "hourly rates". Another red flag.

        Maybe an alternative definition of online direct response copywriting might be:

        "Writing adverts where compensation is not based on time spent or number of words written."
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[992532].message }}
        • Profile picture of the author John_S
          Also,they most certainly don't discuss writing books (electronic or otherwise)...because there is content...and then there is copy.
          Well, yes. But is there a more interesting question being overlooked: Would a copywriter produce a better result on traditional content writing jobs, and if so when?

          To rephrase the quote, there is content written to fulfill the order ....and then there is content designed to further the sale.

          The purpose of an ebook should not be to fulfill the order. It should be very well tuned into the copywriting "wavelength," in order to get a stream of sales. I would argue against the fulfillment piece being another sale letter -- although it has been done. The intro could be the place for a "stick letter" however, and few in either camp understand that.

          Most people have an entirely screwed up notion of what information is. It is not a high school term paper, scraped off Wikipedia, foisted on an unsuspecting customer. It is not the generic drivel being passed around in ebooks, either.

          And there are gray areas. Copywriter Bob Bly didn't write a book on white papers just because it's a favorite hobby of his. White papers are sales tools. The "information" has to be compelling, designed to influence an action (a sale, for instance.) The problem is more white papers are terrible at providing information in a persuasive manner, targeted at the right people inside the organization.

          Now what you call it is one thing. That content writers and copywriters are so unfamiliar with how interrelated (oft times incompatible) content is with copy is something else.
          {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[992628].message }}
          • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
            Banned
            [DELETED]
            {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[992840].message }}
            • Profile picture of the author John_S
              traditional content-writing jobs
              Ah yes. If only there were protégés. And if only there were a way to pitch the deliverables as something other than content writing. (a penny per ton commodity).
              {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[993224].message }}
            • Profile picture of the author Hesster
              Originally Posted by alexa_s View Post

              Although my own suspicion is that the answers are probably "yes" and "all the time", I think it's ultimately unanswerable, because no copywriter who can get copywriting work is voluntarily going to do traditional content-writing jobs (apart from, possibly, for something of his own), because it's such a totally different market, from his perspective, and one with totally different pay-scales.
              Well, there are quite a few copywriters that offer article writing as one of their services. Bob Bly and Raydal have already been mentioned. They just don't charge less for their time than they would for any of the rest of their services. They're not writing for some random blogger running an Adsense page. They write for large corporations that expect and are willing to pay their higher fees. Surely you don't think companies like Coca-Cola and Microsoft are hiring $5 writters, do you?

              I know people who are exclusively content writers whose fees start at $1 per word. Just like copywriting, there are many levels of pay. It all comes down how good you are and marketing yourself to the right clients.
              {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[993935].message }}
              • Profile picture of the author garys_pdx
                This thread brings up a dilemma that I am about ready to struggle with. I need what is really a hybrid product written as it has aspects of both sales and content.

                So my question is if copywriters don't write content and content writers can't write copy how/where should I advertise my project so that I get the best options?

                Should I have a content writer write the bulk of the project and then hope that a copywriter can massage it well enough to make the sale?

                FYI, The project is for an offline marketing project. I need two white papers written that discuss two sides of a coin and make a compelling call to action. For example, the first white paper will discuss why the owner of the local rocking chair store should use facebook, youtube, linkedin, websites, email, autoresponders, etc to advertise their business while selling my membership site that helps the owner to use these tools and my services to promote their business. I would see this piece as a 20-30 pages.

                The other white paper is obviously for the buyer of rocking chairs. It needs to tell the buyer how to identify high quality rocking chairs, how to take care of their rocking chair and how to find a good rocking chair store. I would see this piece as 5-10 pages.

                Obviously this isn't a one time deal as once I conquer the rocking chair store market I'm moving on to desk chairs then dining room chairs, well you get the idea. So if I'm happy with the work the writer will most likely get a series of projects over the next couple of years.

                As you can see this is project is neither fish nor fowl but a combination of the two.

                Any thoughts?

                gary
                Signature

                Looking For A Growing Market? Check Out TeleMedicine! WebDocs-Get Your Piece of the Billion Dollar TeleMedicine Market

                {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[997294].message }}
                • Profile picture of the author Collette
                  Originally Posted by garys_pdx View Post

                  ...The project is for an offline marketing project. I need two white papers written that discuss two sides of a coin and make a compelling call to action...

                  gary

                  You need a copywriter.

                  What you're trying to accomplish is "education-based selling". You're looking to inform the prospect in such a way that their decision to take the action you want them to take is a no-brainer for the prospect.

                  So, although you're not planning a straight "sales letter" you are looking for copy that creates "sales" (even if, in the second case, that "sale" is to go find the "right" store).

                  If you were looking for someone to create a straight informational handout, that could apply to any product in your market, and that did not include a CTA, then you'd be looking for a content writer.

                  For example, say you have a store that sells tires from a dozen different manufacturers. You want the prospect to buy a set of tires, but you don't necessarily want to push one manufacturer's brand over the others.

                  When your prospects come into the store, you have informational handouts in front of the tire display. Your informational handout tells the buyer what quality features they can expect at each price point, or what features they should look for in a tire suitable for the kind of use they have in mind (off-road, mostly highway, etc.).

                  By giving the buyer solid information, you set yourself up as a trusted source - and who doesn't want to buy from a trusted source? - while not pushing any one brand of tire.

                  In this example, the content is part of creating your brand image, and its purpose is to develop feelings of confidence and trust in your prospect - making it easier for your sales staff to close a face-to-face sale.

                  Hope this helps.
                  {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[999539].message }}
                • Profile picture of the author Raydal
                  Originally Posted by garys_pdx View Post

                  FYI, The project is for an offline marketing project. I need two white papers written that discuss two sides of a coin and make a compelling call to action. For example, the first white paper will discuss why the owner of the local rocking chair store should use facebook, youtube, linkedin, websites, email, autoresponders, etc to advertise their business while selling my membership site that helps the owner to use these tools and my services to promote their business. I would see this piece as a 20-30 pages.

                  The other white paper is obviously for the buyer of rocking chairs. It needs to tell the buyer how to identify high quality rocking chairs, how to take care of their rocking chair and how to find a good rocking chair store. I would see this piece as 5-10 pages.

                  Any thoughts?

                  gary
                  White Paper writing is one area where copywriting meets content
                  writing. A white paper sells in a subtle way--by giving valuable
                  information and evidence that the company can provide the
                  service level they claim.

                  For example, all of Rich Sheferen's "special reports" are really white papers.
                  He gives a ton of information but he has a call to action for those who
                  "want more".

                  Whenever I write a 'marketing package' for my clients, I include along
                  with the sales letter and landing pages, articles and free reports for
                  distribution which all compliment the sales letter.

                  So I would write the sales letter, landing pages, PPC ads, articles,
                  autoresponder series, press release, solo ads -- and all these
                  pieces need a different approach to writing.

                  The press release for example, cannot sound like a hard selling
                  sales letter, but the headline must do the same job as a
                  sales letter.

                  I wouldn't hold every copywriter up to the same 'requirement' of
                  writing such a broad spectrum of marketing pieces, but it's all
                  copywriting because its designed to sell--either hard or soft.

                  -Ray Edwards
                  Signature
                  The most powerful and concentrated copywriting training online today bar none! Autoresponder Writing Email SECRETS
                  {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[999660].message }}
                  • Profile picture of the author Kay King
                    The exact definitions for writer and copywriter are slightly different:

                    writer - someone who writes books or articles professionally

                    copywriter - someone who writes advertising and promotional material

                    The difference to me is that a copywriter is adept at writing persuasive copy which is a talent in itself.

                    kay
                    Signature
                    Saving one dog will not change the world -
                    but the world will be forever changed for that one dog.
                    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[999979].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Hesster
    IMHO, it depends on what the purpose of the article is. It's not all black and white.

    If someone writes an article on cats to go on a cat blog where people can click on affiliate links for cat supplies, that probably wouldn't be considered copy. If it was, then any article in any magazine would be considered copy.

    But say a company develops a new process for injection molding, they might have someone write an article comparing their new process to the existing process and have it published in a trade journal. Then later on they might include a reprint of the article in sales material that they send to prospective clients to back up their sales message with proof.

    The differences aren't nearly as clear cut as we'd like to believe. It's very shades of gray.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[991492].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author jakesellers
    To me, a copywriter is someone who works as part of an advertising team, understands concepting and creative direction, and is knowledgeable and experienced in crafting prose in a creative context that applies marketing psychology to affect desired results, or someone who has education and/or background that would allow them to do so. In general there's nothing about writing articles, ebooks, novels or poetry that particularly qualifies or even prepares someone for copywriting, the copywriters I know have been known to spend half a year engaged in thousands of reviews and revisions, hundreds of meetings, and several presentations to complete one paragraph in one print ad.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[991493].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author nichedemon
    It's really a philosophical difference IMHO. A good writer is a good writer period but the style of writing needs to change based on the medium or format.
    Signature
    NicheDemon System for niche marketing success.
    SEOShootout tracking the fast moving world of SEO
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[991510].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author MontelloMarketing
      Originally Posted by nichedemon View Post

      It's really a philosophical difference IMHO. A good writer is a good writer period but the style of writing needs to change based on the medium or format.
      Completely not true when it comes to direct response copywriting. It's an entirely different animal.

      (And I'm saying this as a guy who was a professional writer in another field for 19 years!)
      Signature
      The Montello Group
      Copywriting|Publishing|Training
      Your Premier Conversion Cooperative

      Join Us For Free Conversion Webinars
      CLICK HERE!
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[991699].message }}

Trending Topics