This post has been kindly guest written. Sue Varty is a freelance technical and corporate writer who specializes in e-book creation, user guides, training manuals, web copy and last-minute proposal preparation. Sue has worked for IBM, Compuware and Franklin Templeton Investments. Contact her at www.wordtree.ca and ask about her web designer and web developer partnership program.
Web designers and copywriters have a lot in common:
Those are just a few of the similarities. The last networking event I attended had a room full of entrepreneurs and small business owners – even a few web designers. So how did I end up with so many leads? They needed a website. Why didn’t they go and talk with the web designers in the room?
I think it has to do with the fact that people have more of an interest in the visual and have a harder time with the written word. Getting your ideas on paper can be a very daunting task and they know how it works/doesn’t work for them. Writing copy for a site can be even more intimidating when English or any other language you need is not your first language. Where do they start? Writing? Design? Both?
People don’t need to know the technology you use as a designer to recognize a great looking site. And some don’t need a writer to write the copy. However, most are just starting the process.
Take advantage of this situation to pick off ready-to-work clients from the copy-writing community.
I know – obvious tip – but they have corporate clients who are willing and ready for referrals. If you don’t like networking or cold calling, copywriters do both with very successful results. Find some copywriters and ask them what kind of design requests they get from their clients. Start the discussion now and clients will follow.
Where to find copywriters: FreelanceSwitch and LinkedIn are great places to start. Tip: Enter copywriter into the Search People field in LinkedIn. Try and find writers in your local community or on Skype for easier collaboration.
Offer $50 cash or more for a writing client who books design work with you. This kind of referral relationship works well both ways! I could have made up to $200 just by attending a networking event. You could have made thousands!
Give your preferred copywriter a stack of business cards (and a cool card holder to display them in) for their home office. Everyone who works with them during a brainstorming session can see your display on their desk. If a client wants to focus on design – I’d be more than happy to hand them your card and say “come and see me afterwards for a copy edit review”.
Plus, many writers still use snail mail. Your card might find its way into invoices, direct mail and thank you cards to help copy-only clients take it to the next “level”.
Outsource or sub-contract the web copy side of things altogether. You’ll have more time to design and might reduce a project’s overall timeline so that you can take on more work. It might be easier to include the copywriter’s services on your original estimate/quote. It also shows your clients that you have an expert on call just in case they would like a review.
I’ve been doing a lot of copy “mock-ups” for sites lately but my true love is just the copy. I don’t want to keep explaining to clients that I’m not a web designer so I’d rather see them after the initial design drafts. Partner with copy-only writers and more clients will be directed your way.
Bonus Tip: When trying to find the best copywriter for you, don’t request their samples. Get a sense of their style using a baseline of your own. Strip down an old site you liked, removing all the text. Put letters, such as A, B, C, to indicate where you need the copy and create a PDF of the page. Send it to three writers and ask them to fill in the “blanks” using the letters as a reference. Now you can tell how they are different because they all worked on the same page. Offer to pay them a flat fee for the sample. This is the beginning of a beautiful relationship after all.
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