A Houston copywriter reveals . . . a surprising fact most small business owners don’t know
“Poor writing can be the hidden reason one company thrives nd another just gets by – or worse, goes out of business.”
Consider the following sad – but true – copywriting story about one Houston business owner:
Once upon a time . . . there was a hardworking businessman named Jack, who needed all manner of copywriting services in order to promote his company.
- He needed to write a monthly newsletter.
- He needed to write a new brochure.
- He needed to rewrite his outdated website content.
- He needed to write his year-end report.
- And, every now and then, he needed to write a press release or contribute an article to an industry trade magazine.
- He needed to update and rewrite outdated copy on his website.
While Jack had lived in Houston for many years and knew lots of people, he had never once met a copywriter, a fact that made him uneasy about hiring one. Privately, he admitted he wasn’t keen on trusting his company with an outsider who would probably charge too much anyway.
“I can do it myself,” he said. “Or, my talented assistant can do it; or my wife who belongs to Mensa can do it; or my daughter who’s on the dean’s list at University of Houston . . .”
Here’s what happened to Jack . . .
- His biggest client noticed five – count them, five – typos in his new brochure. Jack was so embarrassed he never gave out another one.
- His talented assistant was so distraught at learning she was now the newsletter editor that she quit the same day and was last seen leaving Jack’s office in downtown Houston to accept a sane, quiet job near her home in the suburbs. “Why commute for this kind of punishment?” she reasoned.
- The Houston Chronicle didn’t call when Jack sent the news editor his self-authored press release, and the trade journal turned him down flat when he submitted an article lovingly crafted by his smart wife. Her reaction to this unexpected snub soon led Jack to conclude: “Discount copywriting isn’t doing my marriage any good at all.” Or his business, for that matter.
Jack learned the hard way that effective, readable writing takes time, talent and experience. He felt guilty spending money on a professional copywriter – yet he never experienced guilt when he hired a mechanic to fix his transmission, a doctor to cure his poison ivy or a contractor to replace his roof.
Six secrets to hiring a good copywriter
What’s the secret to finding a good copywriter in Houston? Try these 6 tips for success:
- Accept this. You don’t need to feel guilty for hiring someone to do something (writing) you’re “supposed” to know how to do yourself. Most people – even the most well-educated people – are not good enough writers to make a career out of it. To write well is a fine thing; to write well enough to make a living at it is another thing entirely.
- Now, accept this. Just because someone identifies himself (herself?) as a professional writer doesn’t mean they should be. So, be careful. There are many mediocre writers selling their services in Houston and elsewhere, but you’re looking for a good writer – even a great writer. The only way to be sure you’ve got one is to ask for writing samples. A good copywriter, certainly a great one, will have plenty to show.
- Feel free to judge. Even if you’ve never been a particularly good writer yourself, you can still excel at judging how well others write. Trust your gut. A good place to start your search is to ask colleagues if they’ve ever used a good copywriter. If you have no luck there, fall back on technology. Google-ing (or Yahoo-ing) keyword terms such as copywriter or better yet, Houston copywriter, can lead to experts worth considering. Search engines are a natural place to find a good writer.
- Ask for references. Ironically, being a good copywriter is not enough. You also need a copywriter who (1) knows how to listen, (2) who can get along with your staff and (3) who takes deadlines (very) seriously.
- Exercise (a little) patience. Good copywriters are always in demand, so don’t be surprised that when you find the right one, he or she unable to knock out your brochure in a single afternoon, or create your website content in five days time. You’ve waited this long, now wait for the right writer to get the job done right.
- Resist the temptation to buy ‘cheap.’ (Or, you’ll risk looking the same). Talented copywriters don’t work cheap. They don’t have to because there is always a need for their services. They get paid well because they take every job seriously. Indeed, they take every word seriously. Excellent copywriters understand they hold the success of a client’s business in their hands. They know that poorly written, hastily-executed copy is often the hidden reason one company thrives and another just gets by – or worse, goes out of business.
A professional writer who is also a former newspaper reporter, magazine editor and media expert heads Houston-based Bayou City Public Relations. Bayou City PR is the home of excellent, professional copywriting.
Contact us at (281) 859-9800 – or visit our Contact page.