Is it worth the money to hire a website copywriter?

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“Wait, what?” 

^ you when your website designer recommends you hire a professional copywriter.

When you get a recommendation to hire a copywriter for your website, it can feel like it came out of left field, and that’s not your fault. The thing is, website copywriting has a PR problem. Most business owners intuitively get that when they launch a website, hiring a designer will probably be important.  

But hiring a copywriter, too? It’s just not clear why it’s worth it. 

You might be asking the following questions: 

“Won’t my website designer do the copy?” 

For the most part, no. Designers are designers, not copywriters. It’s a different and separate skill.

Moreover, designers will need your copy before they can do their part. Most designers will require you to submit your finished copy to them before starting the design process. This means you either have to be prepared to write copy for your website pages yourself or hire a copywriter to do it for you. 

If a designer does offer copywriting, they will tell you upfront and charge accordingly for all that extra work and expertise! In fact, most design firms that offer copywriting are simply outsourcing it to a copywriter and charging you for that. 

It is impossible for designers to casually “throw in” website copywriting for your website project, even if, in your opinion, the copy your site needs is minimal. 

That’s like going to a dentist, being told you probably need braces, and getting a referral for an orthodontist. Then you ask if your dentist could just quickly put them on for you because you don’t really want to go to another professional. 

It seems like it could be possible, right? Both dentists and orthodontists work with teeth! But your dentist is going to tell you no, sorry, this is a complex job that you want to be done right by someone trained in it. 

The same goes for the designer-copywriter relationship. 

“Isn’t a website mostly about… the design? Why do I need to care about the copy?”  

This is a great question. 

Your website’s goals are usually to 1) establish credibility with people who don’t know you and 2) help people feel confident and excited about working with you. You need great design and copy to achieve both!

Here’s why. 

Great design helps with number one, establishing credibility. The design ensures your website is… 

  • Professional and modern (so that your target market says, “This website is up to date and in line with my expectations for this top-notch brand. I trust it!”)
  • Easy to navigate (so that your target market says, “I know exactly how to find what I need, quickly! This is already a great experience with this company, and I haven’t even hired them yet!”)
  • Conveys an aesthetic in line with your brand (so that your target market says, “This is definitely the right website because it matches the branding I’ve seen elsewhere. I trust it!”)

Great copy helps with number two, getting people wanting to work with you. The copywriting ensures that your website is…

  • Clear (so your target market says, “I know exactly what this company does and who they serve, which makes it a no-brainer to decide if working with them is the right decision for me!”)
  • Resonant (so your target market says, “This company is speaking my language and really ‘gets’ what I’m going through. I know that they’ll be able to help me!”)
  • Persuasive (so your target market says, “I know there are other options out there, but from reading the website, I’m convinced this is the company for me!”)

Bottom line: for an effective website, you need great design and great copy. 

If you’re still not sold on the power of copywriting for your website, consider that I rewrote the messaging for this photographer’s website, and she started booking 3+ high-quality clients a month through her website (without changing her design or branding!). 

“I can’t build a website by myself, but I can write. So doesn’t it make sense to hire a website designer but DIY my copy?” 

In my opinion, it doesn’t make financial sense to hire a designer without a copywriter, or a copywriter without a designer. (Unless, of course, you or an in-house team member is a professional designer or copywriter.)

Here’s why. 

As we’ve established, the copy on a website is hugely important for your website’s ability to generate revenue. So if you’re prepared to hire a custom website designer, protect that investment by hiring experts for the full project, half of which is copywriting.

In short: don’t go all in on half a project, phone it in on the other half, and expect to get great results. That’s like hiring contractors to take down your walls during a home renovation, but deciding to install the floors yourself. You could do that, sure, but the floors might not turn out great. Ultimately, this would end up devaluing the rest of your home, which you just put so much money into! 

That’s why if you find yourself unable to afford to hire both a website designer and a website copywriter, do not choose between one or the other. You’ll likely end up wasting the money you did spend on one! Instead, wait, save up, or increase revenue until both fit into your budget. 

“Can’t my designer just use the copy from my old website?” 

It’s possible. But in most cases, it’s not likely. Here’s why this usually doesn’t work: 

  1. Layout changes will mean that your old copy won’t be able to neatly transfer from your old website to your new website. There will be gaps, like new sections or whole new pages that you didn’t have before.
  2. If your old website was created a long time ago or without conversions in mind, there may simply not be enough copy on your old site to fill in a robust, modern new website.
  3. You’ve realized your website design needs updating, and this likely means your messaging needs updating too. It could be that your business has grown, your client avatars are more elevated, you’ve pivoted, or you’ve outgrown your old brand. 

If you absolutely love your current copy (not just settling for it because you don’t want to spend the money on changing it— see the section above), then ask your designer if they can make it work. If they can’t, consider hiring a copywriter to at least refresh your old copy to match your new site and branding.

“I can write well, so I’m not sure I need a copywriter!”

You’re probably an excellent writer! 

However, copywriting is a specific skill. Just as being a good sketch artist does not mean you are a skilled website designer, being a good writer does not mean you are a skilled copywriter.

If you have a strong desire to write your own copy, that’s great! I recommend taking some time to learn the skill, first. You might consider the following copywriting resources designed for business owners: 

  • Copywriting for Creatives, a course that helps you write your website copy, especially for creative business owners
  • The Copy Cure, a course that teaches the fundamentals of copywriting for your business, especially for online business owners
  • The Midweek Missive — free! My weekly email newsletter where I break down copywriting concepts into detailed how-tos + tons of examples. Read past email series in my blog to get started ASAP.

“I don’t think a copywriter could ever write the way I write!” 

Fair enough. If you are afraid to hand off your copywriting to someone else (even a professional), I understand. There’s something about writing that feels personal. 

But if you’re looking for a nudge to help you let go of the copywriting, here are some things to consider:

  • Just like the design process, the copywriting process is collaborative. You’re involved. There are robust revision processes in place. You’re not going to be left in the dark or have zero say in how your copy turns out. Copywriters want to make you happy!
  • Copywriters’ jobs are to adapt to your brand voice. This is what they do for a living! Checking out what their past clients say can be helpful to alleviate fears about someone being unable to capture your voice.
  • It may not be efficient for you to write your copy by yourself forever and ever. There’s so much copy that goes into marketing a business (beyond the website), that you’ll cap your ability to grow by trying to DIY it all. Your website project could be a way to test the waters of what it’s like to let copywriting go to a professional. 

If you want the best of both worlds, you might benefit from my website content editing service, where I edit your words (vs. writing from scratch), taking care to preserve your voice.

“Okay, maybe. But why does website copy cost thousands? Isn’t it a lot easier and faster than design?”

Unfortunately, it’s not! Google around for website copywriters, and you’ll find that the investment ranges between $3000 and $6000 for done-for-you website copy. (People charging less than this are likely newer at it and looking to build up their portfolios, but they also might be great! It can be worth taking a risk on an unproven copywriter — this is something you have to decide for yourself.)

Here’s why website copywriting costs what it costs: it’s so much more than sitting down and cranking out pretty words. It’s about conversions.

Website copywriting involves…

  • Interviewing your past clients (uncovering what messaging resonates with them)
  • Creating your website strategy (deciding what pages to include, how people should move through the pages, and what the call to action should be)
  • Developing your brand voice (or adapting to an established voice)
  • Persuasive copywriting (strategizing how to present information in what order to drive inquiries)
  • Wireframing (creating page layouts and the navigation menu)
  • SEO keyword research (identifying keywords to help you rank on Google)

Bottom line: protect your website design investment by hiring a website copywriter

If you’re investing in your website, invest in the whole website, including the content. 

For those that aren’t yet able to comfortably afford to hire both a designer and a copywriter, there are other options, like a website content refresh, website copywriting and design templates, or courses and how-to content to help you write your own copy. 

To get my free, example-driven help on how to write your own copy, join my email community, The Midweek Missive
If you are ready to hire a designer and a copywriter, feel free to pursue my website copywriting to see if my work and approach resonate with you.

Krista Walsh is a website copywriter and strategist helping client-based businesses turn their websites into lead-generating machines. She’s the person you call when you want your website done right from the ground up!

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