Web Designer’s Guide To Copywriting Profits

If a web design agency wants to increase their sales, there’s one way that’s easier and quicker than the rest: sell copywriting services.

When you sell copywriting to your clients, their websites will achieve more sales and better results.

In addition, your projects will run more smoothly and efficiently.

By the end of this article, you’ll be ready to sometimes even double your revenue and delight your clients at the same time.

Do you or have you considered offering copywriting services to your clients? Please share your views in the comments!


Time is money

On most websites, more time is spent on copywriting than design. If you are not involved in copywriting, more than 50% of the website creation process is happening out with your agency. This is a waste of revenue in the short-term, and a profound waste of revenue in the long-term.

Once a website is designed, more time is spent on writing than anything else. Blog posts, email newsletters, new products – all opportunities for your agency to provide value and book revenue.

By keeping a connection with clients, they are more likely to use and recommend your services. When you provide copywriting, you develop a deeper relationship with your clients.


Pick your friends wisely

Most creative people have experienced the nightmare of incompetent partners: an SEO charlatan intent on keyword stuffing and reciprocal linking; the client’s in-house copywriter who takes month to write content unsuitable for the web or even human consumption. When your client chooses your partners, they create an opportunity to ruin your good work and reputation.

Even though it’s the web hosts fault your client’s website is offline, your prospects don’t know that. When a website doesn’t rank in Google, your prospects won’t blame the SEO firm – they’ll blame you. When a web design firm has an incompetent partner on a project, that’s another opportunity wasted to create a good case study and portfolio piece.

Even though you didn’t write it, prospects will blame you for bad copy on your client’s site. Grammar mistakes don’t reflect well on anyone. When you choose your partners, you increase the likelihood of success.  Clients make more money and use your services again; you make more money and have great case studies and portfolio pieces.



Radically improve efficiency

Waiting on clients to deliver website content can be a big impediment to progress.

Time can be wasted and deadlines missed by a failure of clients to send you copy on time. When you sell copywriting services, you improve efficiency and the speed of website deployment.


Best results

As a copywriter, one of my biggest frustrations is writing copy for a website that’s poorly designed. There’s one thing that all my favorite projects have in common: collaboration with a great team. You can ensure you work with the best team, every time, by choosing the copywriter you work with.

An experienced copywriter will know how to capture your client’s tone of voice and deliver improved sales for their business. Give your clients an opportunity to achieve their full potential.


Selecting a copywriting partner

As a web design agency, make sure you choose copywriters that are web literate. At minimum, they should have knowledge in the following areas:

Split testing: If you require sales copy, you should only work with a web copywriter with knowledge in split and multivariate testing. The experienced web copywriter will speak articulately on the topic and should make proposals for testing that will increase conversion rates.

SEO: Even the most primitive of web copywriter will claim to have knowledge about SEO; you must look beyond the rhetoric to judge their capacity. They should know how to weave keywords into copy without any noticeable difference to quality; they should make sophisticated keyword selections, balancing competitiveness, keyword volume and the qualification of traffic. Quiz them on broader topics too: would you recommend a 301 or 302 redirect in scenario A?

Technical: It is possible but rare to find good web copywriters with poor technical skills. A competent web copywriter will know HTML and feel comfortable inside your client’s CMS.

Social media: Having a Twitter or Facebook account proves nothing; you should expect examples of viral marketing success. Ask to see their articles that set the blogosphere on fire. For sales copywriting this is not essential, but it should be a prerequisite for blogging and social media campaigns.

There are many good copywriters that do not have the above skills. They might be good at writing brochures, but are unlikely to be the most qualified for web copywriting. Once you have identified copywriters with the minimum requirements, evaluate their portfolio to see if they’re a good fit for you and your clients.



Two ways to work

There are two ways to make money selling copywriting services once you find the right copywriting partner.

1. Sell copywriting services direct to your client. You markup the price, bill your client directly and pay for the copywriting services. Under this model, you should expect good price discounts and achieve comfortable profit margins.

2.  Referrals. You put your copywriting partner in touch with your client and recommend their services. Then, ask your copywriting partner to agree upon a referral commission.


Sales integration: the secret to doubling your sales

If you find a copywriting partner, it might be a good way to achieve some extra revenue and client satisfaction. But, you must fundamentally change your sales process to double your sales.

Always ask: Each time a client requests a quote, ask if they would like to receive a copywriting proposal on their project. Contact existing clients and ask them if they would like to receive a copywriting proposal to improve their website content.

Recommend: You should have selected your copywriting partner because they’re the best. So, explain this to your client. Your clients trust your web expertise, so make sure clients understand the benefits of working with a web copywriting professional.

Partner proposals: Each time you ask your clients if they would like a copywriting proposal, you should pass on the details to your copywriting partner. Then, they should produce a free proposal for your client. If you will be billing your client, they should prepare the proposal and send it back to you. Then, you can markup the price and send it off to the client.

Optimizing success: The proposal should not just include the offer of writing copy for their website under development. Make sure your copywriting partner offers services that they could use month-after-month: blog posts, newsletters, articles and social media engagement.

Alan Martin is a web copywriter at Cooper Murphy, the boutique copywriters. Cooper Murphy’s services include website copywriting and annual report copywriting.

Do you offer copywriting services to your clients? If you do, please share with us how this has impacted your web design business.

  • http://cabedge.com Scott

    “A competent web copywriter will know HTML and feel comfortable inside your client’s CMS.”

    I’m sure you meant to say a “content manager” rather than “copywriter.” Most copywriters, like myself, are comfortable working in a CMS and adding an HTML tag here and there. But, front-end developer skills are best done by…front-end developers. Great copywriters are great at writing. This this the first and greatest criterion on which to judge them. Things like SEO and Social Media are good PR skills for a web copywriter, but they don’t mean someone is skilled at creating compelling messages.

    You’re better off hiring a real copywriter rather than settling for a word technician.

    • Mark

      While this is a good article and brings up a great point, I have to agree with your comment Scott.

      I can add copy to and edit copy within HTML code but I would say I “know HTML” or CSS for that matter. Normally, I would say, the copywriter comes up with the words and the developer puts them in.

      Still, it’s a decent read.

    • Kim

      As a strategic marcoms practitioner of 30 years – I agree with the above comment by Scott and Chuck Taylor, .
      If you really think this is appropriate advice you are mistaken.
      ‘Web Designer’s guide to copy writing profits’, used as a title indicates that at as a web developer – you are making a grab for the client’s cash to do the ‘job’, rather than providing the client with solid outcomes.

      I was looking for some fresh development talent to engage on the back of another piece of work that you have done – I wouldn’t touch you with a 10ft pole after reading this!

  • http://seattleposttimes.typepad.com/blog/ Chuck Taylor

    Ironically, this article is riddled with typos.

    • http://seattleposttimes.typepad.com/blog/ Chuck Taylor

      OK, maybe not riddled, but there are some sloppy errors.

  • http://www.siti-internet-roma.it siti internet roma

    Nice article!!!!! iTweet! :D

  • http://www.rawkmedia.com John

    Agreed 100% on the benefit and the added value that web-copy brings to the customer… but it’s not always easy convincing them of those facts. They either think they can write web-copy (and of course rarely do), or they think it has not value. Great article regardless.

  • http://www.benstokesmarketing.co.uk Ben Stokes

    Nice article . . . this is sure to help out design company’s boost sales revenue. Plus the most important thing really is it will help the web project run more smoothly as opposed to using your clients appointed copy writer.

    Keep it simple . . .

    Thanks guys, another great read :)

  • http://www.morganandme.net Morgan and me

    Another channel for sales and keeping long term client relations! :)

  • http://www.psyched.be/wordpress Darkened Soul

    copywriting… it’s so fluid… not to be confined in between a couple of lines… hard to get a grasp of, still need t work on this one… alot… thx for this article n bringing my feet back down to earth ;)

  • http://linkshape.com Ricky Rath

    Thanks for writing this, Mr. Martin. This topic will become especially important to web designers and developers as the nature of online activity continues to grow outside the traditional website. Our firm is about to make a content creation service offering for all of the points you mention. Design is extremely important, but content is king.

  • http://www.alexpatin.com Web Designer Alex

    Nicely written article, however cases in my experience, clients have already had copy written for me – while we often work together on editing it together, a great chunk of it has already been complete.

    In a different case though, what would one do if a client has copy already written, but it doesn’t quite get the job done? How would you handle it Alan?