Copy Writers Must Learn HTML!?

16 replies
Hi folks, im new to copy writing as a profession. I purchased an ebook from a dude called Mike Hersh which some of you may have heard of around here.

Mike recommends using a HTML editor to write the copy, save and then submit to the client. Me personally, i've only ever dabbled in HTML and to be honest I dont think that as a copy writer it is my job to create HTML pages for the client.

In my previous jobs/projects which I must admit have been small I have just supplied the word doc along with a PDF and any images I have used in separate files and the client has been happy. In fact that is how one of them told me to submit it.

They had their web guys do the upload for them. Which only sounds logical to me.

So anyways, Ilistened to Mike and downloaded a free HTML editor called coffee cup. I opened it up and I was like "Woah! nup not gonna work for me". I thought I could just switch moded like in some of the more popular web based blog platforms and 'bobs-ya-unlce! done'.

My thoughts are that unless Im forced into learning HTML and saving docs in that type of format, im just going to continue writing in a WORD DOCUMENT and let the client do the conversion into HTML.

What are others thoughts?

What software or program do you use and why?

Cheers guys, much appreciated.

-Andrei
#copy #html #learn #writers
  • Profile picture of the author Mark Andrews
    Banned
    Used to send the copy off in various formats HTML included but these days Andrei...

    I just use Wordpad, plain text - format everything for my copywriting clients and let them click on the Download button and do the HTML conversion themselves.

    Sometimes if you offer too many options you just get asked far too many questions which just ends up taking more and more of your time.

    Obviously when I'm offering full graphics included, that's different but for the 'basic' copywriting service... Wordpad is just fine.

    No complaints yet. Touch wood.


    Mark Andrews
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    • Profile picture of the author goindeep
      Originally Posted by Mark Andrews View Post

      Used to send the copy off in various formats HTML included but these days Andrei...

      I just use Wordpad, plain text - format everything for my copywriting clients and let them click on the Download button and do the HTML conversion themselves.

      Sometimes if you offer too many options you just get asked far too many questions which just ends up taking more and more of your time.

      Obviously when I'm offering full graphics included, that's different but for the 'basic' copywriting service... Wordpad is just fine.

      No complaints yet. Touch wood.


      Mark Andrews
      Yeah agree. Sounds like the right way to go.
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  • Profile picture of the author Andrew Gould
    Normally I deliver a HTML document so that I can have control over exactly how it looks. But if the client's using a competent designer then I'm happy to let them convert my Word document.

    If the client wanted to do it themselves, or let their "web guy" do it, I'd try and get involved in the process if at all possible. Because most of the time, they don't know what they're doing. And I don't want my copy to bomb because it was poorly presented.

    I write my copy in Word then use Notepad (but I'm currently testing some fancier text editors) to format it into HTML. For any graphic work that needs doing I use Photoshop.
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    Andrew Gould

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    • Profile picture of the author MikeHumphreys
      Originally Posted by Andrew Gould View Post

      Normally I deliver a HTML document so that I can have control over exactly how it looks. But if the client's using a competent designer then I'm happy to let them convert my Word document.

      If the client wanted to do it themselves, or let their "web guy" do it, I'd try and get involved in the process if at all possible. Because most of the time, they don't know what they're doing. And I don't want my copy to bomb because it was poorly presented.
      That's been my experience too. I've lost track on the number of times the client or their "web guy" has messed up the layout or look of a salesletter I wrote.

      I've also found it necessary to get much more familiar with graphic design and layout than I ever planned on for the very same reasons. I dragged my heels for a long time on buying PhotoShop but it was a very wise decision when I finally did a few years ago.

      I use Dreamweaver CS4 and PhotoShop CS5 for any online copy I write. I use MS Word and PhotoShop for any offline copy I write. I do outsource any minisite design (header, footer, ebook) for clients as it's something that doesn't come easy for me. I frequently work with the designer to get the right look for the piece.

      Dreamweaver can do so many things in terms of webpages but it's not cheap (unless you find an old version on Ebay or something) and it has a steep learning curve.

      I've used the training at lynda.com to get up to speed on Dreamweaver quickly. Last time I checked it was $25/month for unlimited access of all of their training videos... a great deal IMHO for all of the major apps you can learn through them.

      In terms of fees... I charge project fees that reflect the additional work I put in on the layout and design stuff.

      Hope that helps,

      Mike
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      • Profile picture of the author Mark Andrews
        Banned
        If any of you need a good graphic designer
        for copywriting purposes, let me know and
        I'll hook you up with a guy.

        Kindest regards,


        Mark Andrews
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  • Profile picture of the author Ken Hoffman
    I don't offer graphics at all, but I'm working toward being able to. Why? Design directly impacts conversion. I want that to be in my control. Having a third party do design, is just one more chance for your vision of the copy to get lost in translation. It's not that hard to learn to use a software program, and it's just one more competitive edge if you can offer it to clients.
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  • Profile picture of the author LP Copywriter
    It all depends on what the customer wants. If they need the copy marked up in basic HTML and CSS, then I do it myself, for a fee. If they need something more complex, then I can farm it out to one of my partner businesses.

    Honestly though, HTML is so incredibly simple, that you really should take an afternoon or two to learn the basics.
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  • Profile picture of the author TamilYoung
    Congratulations on choosing this copy writing profession. With a passion towards it, you can reach great goals. I don't think you should learn or know HTML for copy writing for there are lots of tools that can convert your document as html. I would suggest you spend more time on mastering the copy writing techniques, rather than focusing on learning HTML or other technical skills.
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  • Profile picture of the author submissionbay
    Copy Writers don't need HTML, that's all I can say... )
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  • Profile picture of the author CypherHackz
    I don't think copywriters must know HTML but it would add extra benefits if they know HTML.

    At least, copywriters must know how to use the BOLD, ITALIC, ANCHOR LINK tags in their copywriting.

    But anyway, if you want to have good HTML editor, I really recommend Notepad++. I have been using it almost 5 years now.

    -cypher.
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  • Profile picture of the author apim
    I got in phases, phase 1 is copy straight into a word document so they can review, after the back and forward review process I got to a PSD design (yes I do it myself) and then I deliver HTML.

    I'm not going to have a second rate designer and programmer ruin my letter...and I've seen it done too many times
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    • Profile picture of the author MediaManager
      Presentation of the copy can be as important as the copy itself. Learning how to use HTML, CSS, Photoshop, Illustrator and layout software like InDesign give you more tools to control presentation.

      I would recommend using Aptana Studio 3 for coding HTML and CSS. It's open-source, has a number of excellent features and is probably the most popular HTML editor being used by Web 2.0 designers.

      If you are going to use HTML and CSS it is a good idea to hand code as much as possible. WYSIWYG editors like Dreamweaver throw in a bunch of junk code and can be a serious impediment to learning HTML and CSS. Once you understand how HTML and CSS work, Dreamweaver can be a good HTML editing tool, but using it out-of-the box to create HTML pages will probably teach you a lot of bad habits and give you sub-standard results.

      W3schools has a great series of free references and tutorials for HTML and CSS. It's a good resource on HTML and CSS for beginners and experts alike.
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  • Profile picture of the author Daniel Scott
    Hell no.

    I put everything into Word - but I do format it the way I want it to look.

    Then I let the web guy upload it for me, telling him to put it up EXACTLY as I have it.

    Works for me. The trick is having some designers in your rolodex who you can work with. If the client's designer sucks (and it happens a lot) call your guy and get them to do it for you.

    Usually I just have the designer bill the client. Occasionally (but very rarely) I'll just eat the cost (because design usually costs very little compared to the fees/royalties I'll get out of a project).

    My advice is stick to what you're good at. I used to try to do the HTML thing but I was never great at it. Now I outsource it even for my own personal projects.

    -Daniel
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    Always looking for badass direct-response copywriters. PM me if we don't know each other and you're looking for work.

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    • Profile picture of the author goindeep
      Originally Posted by Daniel Scott View Post

      Hell no.

      I put everything into Word - but I do format it the way I want it to look.

      Then I let the web guy upload it for me, telling him to put it up EXACTLY as I have it.

      Works for me. The trick is having some designers in your rolodex who you can work with. If the client's designer sucks (and it happens a lot) call your guy and get them to do it for you.

      Usually I just have the designer bill the client. Occasionally (but very rarely) I'll just eat the cost (because design usually costs very little compared to the fees/royalties I'll get out of a project).

      My advice is stick to what you're good at. I used to try to do the HTML thing but I was never great at it. Now I outsource it even for my own personal projects.

      -Daniel
      Thanks for that Daniel.

      I appreciate everything everyone else is saying and can totally understand it. The only problem; I dont like HTML, CSS or coding and programming anything. It wouldnt hurt for me to learn... i know. But I want to focus 100% of my energy or writing and layout. I can do a fair bit with MS word.

      Plus I seen a lot of people using video in their copy and that is just as easy.

      Thanks

      p.s. Daniel sent you a PM.
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  • Profile picture of the author anthonytori1
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    • Profile picture of the author Bill Jeffels
      This is my opinion so take it as such.

      I rarely write copy for clients anymore. I'm involved with creating my own products. When writing copy... I write the copy. That's it.

      A write a kick ass sales letter that grabs the prospect by the eyelids and make them keep reading down to the buy button.

      That's my job.

      When Charlie Sheen was filming Two and A Half Men. Was he in the editing room after "Crafting His work"? Hell no. He was up at his 5 million dollar mansion doing lines of blow off a 2 thousand dollar hookers ass.

      Job: Writing copy that grabs the prospect, keeps them reading, keeps them engaged answers all their objectives and hell - Gett'n them to hit the damn buy button.


      Bill

      .
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  • Profile picture of the author JstewartPiBR
    There is no harm in learning or knowing something new. So, you can always learn HTML. However, there is no hard & fast rule that a copywriter should be well-versed in HTML to make content look good. There are many copywriters are efficient in using HTML tags while publishing their content. There are many who don't know. What is more important is that you should not compromise with the quality of content. Remember, "Content is King".
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