When you’re looking to hire a freelance catalog copywriter, should you look for a person who is already knowledgeable in what you’re selling?
The short answer is, not necessarily.
While a copywriter well-versed in your product line is at definite advantage because she already understands who your customers are and why they would want to buy your products, this advantage is only useful if the writer is skillful in weaving this knowledge into the copy she writes.
The skilled writer would lay out in her copy the major benefit that the product provides.
She would know that prospects are self-serving (aren’t we all?) and that they buy stuff ultimately to fulfill a want or a need.
Within her copy, she’d pounce on that emotion with words that hit the mark with the targeted customers.
But could a copywriter with little understanding of the products do the same?
For the most part, yes, but it would require research by the copywriter concerning the products and the demographics of the people who buy them.
And any catalog copywriter worth her salt would not be a stranger to research. It just goes with the territory.
Research is the key that makes it possible for a catalog copywriter to write copy for pretty much any kind of product. Of course, there are always exceptions …
If the products you sell are highly technical or specialized, you might prefer a copywriter who’s worked in the industry, who holds a related degree, or has written about these products in the past.
The experience such an individual brings to the table will enable her to produce, most likely, outstanding copy because she understands the products and the customers. But as important as this is, just as important to consider is: does her copy sell?
As you consider your freelance copywriting professional, be sure to read copy samples the writer has written previously.
Are they well done, meaning, do they address benefits and features? Do they speak clearly and persuasively to the targeted market? Do they communicate the right emotion, nudging prospects to buy?
If the copywriter you’re considering is skillful at the craft, half of the battle is won.
And if the writer is eager to learn about a new product or service (and most good copywriters are), and time spent in the learning curve is not a problem, you may find this to be a suitable option.
When you’re writing product descriptions for a product you’re familiar with, it’s easy to leave out details and just give generalities.
A while back, my saddle fitter told me my saddle was too long and the channel too narrow.
So, I started researching online for saddles.
One thing that I learned is that “wide” is a relative term. My wide and your wide may be two different things.
Some sites I visited described a saddle as having a wide channel but didn’t provide any picture of the saddle’s channel or measurement (like, 4” wide) in its description.
By providing a clear image of the saddle’s channel or stating a precise measurement, suddenly “wide” becomes quantifiable.
My point is best made by one poster who wrote in a forum of saddle seekers.
And I quote: “But I couldn't find any definitive information on the channel width other than "generous channel width" which I thought was vague.”
Before you begin writing a product description, step back and remember who your customer is and why she’s looking to buy your product.
Your product description should supply the answers to the following questions:
And embedded in those answers should be specific details, like a 4” wide channel versus a “generous” channel width.
An informed consumer is much more likely to buy your product. Give your customers the information that they need and watch your sales grow!
Don't lose out on sales because your product descriptions don't give your customer the details she needs to convince her to buy. Need help with this? Then contact me today!
Every person who’s ever chosen the freelance route had to earn his first client. Most are grateful for that first assignment, because getting a foothold as a freelancer doesn’t come easy.
If you hire a freelancer, realize that to that individual, especially the freelancer who’s just getting started, you’re not just a paycheck.
You represent the first success on what was most likely a long, angst-ridden, ups-and-downs, frustratingly-slow-to-fruition road.
You provide a tremendous shot in the arm to that freelancer!
For the freelancer, yes, the payment for work actually performed for a legitimate client is awesome; that uptick in the bank account that calms the anxiety, and the chance to proudly display the work that you created in your portfolio or on your web site.
But even better than those are the intangibles. That sense of tremendous accomplishment, the “I DID IT!” factor.
All the prospecting, all the networking, all those potentials who just weren’t ready to hire.
And then, finally, you get your first “yes”!
Once that first successful project is under your belt, going forward, the sky’s the limit.
The confidence level goes from zero to sixty, the belief in your own ability becomes real. No longer do you tell yourself, “I can do this,” while in your gut doubt your own words.
No, now you have a real client who’s confirmed what you’ve always believed but really needed to prove. A person who’s paid YOU for the work that YOU created.
Once that first assignment is landed and completed, the next time a potential client approaches you and asks, “Can you do this?”, you can assuredly respond, “Yes, I can.”
The road to that first client can be frustratingly long with lots of dead ends. There’ll be times that you’ll wonder why you’re even bothering. But just remember the words of poet Edgar A. Guest: “Rest if you must – but don’t you quit.”
Boring catalog copy is not a good thing.
Boring product descriptions are uninteresting. And prospects and customers uninterested in your copy are easily enticed by copy that is more invigorating.
This realization about the consequences of boring catalog copy came upon me recently via a rather unlikely source: my dog.
I’ve owned my dog for six months now. His name is Doc, and we adopted him from Northeast Coonhound Rescue. Doc is a hound mix, part coonhound and part pointer.
Doc’s kind of a high-energy guy when he’s outside and for that reason, can’t go off leash. (Otherwise, he runs off for five hours to hunt in the swamp, but that’s a story for another day…)
About a month ago, Doc suddenly seemed to dislike going for walks. It got so bad that, at one point, he wouldn’t even leave the house unless we bribed him out with cookies. This was very weird behavior from a dog who previously would drag me down the steps if I even cracked open the door.
Once we got him outside, he would refuse to move. Out came the cookies, more bribing, and eventually, we’d get him going. But even during the walk, there would be bouts of stopping and refusing to budge.
Now, I’ve been around dogs all my life, but Cesar Millan I’m not, so I got the name of a trainer from the rescue we adopted Doc from.
The trainer emailed me and asked all kinds of questions about Doc, to learn about his behavior and background. She also asked me to send a short video of Doc walking (or rather, not walking) on the leash, which I did.
After viewing the video, she responded that based on Doc’s behavior and body language while on the leash, she believed that his problem was that he was bored. That where I wanted to take him was not interesting to him, so he refused to follow.
Huh, imagine that.
And just like my dog, who found some walking routes so tedious to bear that he balked at following; boring, dull catalog copy can have the same effect on your prospects and customers. They won’t want to follow along, either, if it’s not interesting to them.
And when that happens, you’ll have bigger problems to deal with than just a dog who refuses to move.
(Check out my earlier blog post for some tips on spicing up your catalog copy.)
I’m going a little off topic from catalog copywriting with this post, but it’s a relevant one nonetheless.
Do you ever waste time? You know, procrastinate? At work, at home, wherever.
Bit of a rhetorical question…
But seriously, time-wasting and procrastination, when you think about it, must eat up thousands of valuable hours of useful productivity.
After a quick Google search, I learned that we waste approximately 122 minutes of a work day procrastinating. (Where do those two hours go?)
When I worked in the corporate world, I experienced the various and sundry ways that one could wile away the hours, even before the onslaught of the internet and social media.
And when I left to become a freelance copywriter, I envisioned busy days where tasks and projects were knocked off my to do list with assembly line-like efficiency.
Little did I know.
Mr. Procrastinate lurks everywhere, and you can’t escape him. His persistence is second to none and his desire will not be denied!
I fight with him every day. Arriving at my desk with the best of intentions, only to fall victim to him sooner rather than later.
But I’ve recently discovered a simple method that, for me, has actually helped.
And I rely on a humble device that requires no charging, no electricity, no batteries.
Yup, that little bugger has pushed my productivity level through the roof!
And with the help of my little kitchen timer, I’ve begun following a procrastination-reducing procedure described in a book by Ryan Munsey.
The way it works is this: Set your timer for 25 minutes and start working. When the 25 minutes is up, and the alarm goes off, stop working. Then, set the timer again for 5 minutes and take a break from whatever you were working on. (Oops, have to stop writing – the timer went off! Be back in five…)
Ideally, you should physically remove yourself from your desk, your computer, your cell phone, etc. Get up and walk around or do some stretching – I just washed the dishes that were in the kitchen sink!
When the 5 minutes is up, go back to your desk, re-set the timer for 25 minutes, and get back to work.
Do four sets of 25 minutes working/5-minute break, and then take a 30-minute break. After the 30-minute break, repeat the four sets again.
Pretty simple, right?
I’ve found walking away from the desk to be tough, that it makes me anxious (but in a good way), to get back to work. I mean, I actually look forward to getting back at it.
And the ticking of the timer keeps my motivation up. I know, some people may find it irritating, but it doesn’t bother me. It’s my gentle, little reminder that I have another mini-deadline approaching shortly.
So, if Mr. Procrastinate has you by the scruff of the neck, why not give this easy-to-follow method a try?
And be sure to let me know how it works for you…
Suzanne Quigley - Copywriter