Call yourself a copywriter?

uk copywriter manchesterThere’s more to being a copywriter than being a copywriter these days and to be honest I’m not even sure that the term copywriter even does me any favours on occasions. A case in point being the inaugural SAScon Manchester SEO and social search convention held the other week.

With a hard and fast focus on SEO, the event attracted some of the big UK SEO hitters as well as some big wig international SEOeratti, @brucedaisley from Youtube, @tomcritchlow of Distilled, Richard Gregory of Lattitude , Joost de Valk of Orange Valley. Manchester SEO was represented in force with the likes of Mediavest’s @peteyoung, Simon Wharton of PushOn and Ben McKay of Mediaedge. Top bananas.

There are a couple of good SAScon reports. Mindy Gofton over at Manchester SEO agency i-com reviews the event as does Tom Mason at theEword. The SAScon blog has live blogging coverage and plenty of info on the sessions too – check it out.

A strong lineup and an interesting day. More power to the SAScon crew.

Social, copy and SEO copy

The more I reflect on the event, the more obvious the differences between search and social. A difference of emphasis and approach, especially from the hardcore SEO crew, that says to me that they don’t get social media, don’t get copywriting and don’t get content in anything like the same way as the social mediaites. To them ‘social’ as a search signal is just another (and often inconvenient) tool at their SEO disposal.

Why should they get it? Good social is all about fresh, original, innovative and authentic content; especially fresh, original, innovative and authentic copy.

For one, quality content/copy costs, and secondly it’s difficult to scale up quality and mass produce it. In the game of big boys War Hammer that some SEO gurumeisters play in their attempts to outwit Google, low price and large scale are important tools. Together they combine to create the ultimate objective – an impression of relevance and subsequent top search placements. Fantomaster’s Groucho Marx line about the importance of faking sincerity about summed it up.

How about some authentic authenticity?

Well how about using quality as your default starting position? How about using the SEO and social media crossover to develop interesting, engaging, relevant content that justifies top positioning in its own right? Sites, pages, posts, blogs, video, tweets, any type of content that enriches people’s lives, that contributes, that is visible as a consequence of it’s relevance. Work that is a product of passion and insight, like this.

Sure there’s all kinds of other things you can do to help your content on its way and SEO is important. Buy inspire links (remember it’s quality not quantity), nail your anchor tags, establish (ahem…) content networks or 301 directs or smart arse canonical link tags if you have to. You’d be crazy not to. You’re paid to win high placements – go get ‘em. But what about taking a step back from all the voodoo and building your campaign, your presence, from the ground up based on great content and killer copywriting? You know…like successful online organisations do who…

1.Define clear objectives
2.Commit
3.Tell the story
4.Be the story

Paul Fabretti gets it, saying that agencies that genuinely combine search and social will succeed. Will McInness gets it. “How many people here just want to use social media to get to the top of rankings?” he asked. About 5 people in the room put their hands up. Ha! A more revealing question might have been “how many people here wouldn’t admit to using social media to get to the top of the rankings?”

Copywriting turned to zeros and ones

Horses for courses sure, and without doubt there are very good technical SEO reasons (possibly) for automatically spinning multiple thousands of versions of an article. This only goes to show the two very distinct forms of copywriting that exist.

On one hand – Spider food. Zeros and ones. On the other, crafted, considered writing. Copy that tells a story, relates and engages with readers, that motivates.

Drawing that distinction seems increasingly important.

So maybe using the term copywriter isn’t the best way forward. Maybe it’s too unclear. Maybe now it’s just too cheap, too… Elance, too Copify, too 2p a word to count. A debaser. What about a change of title? Would that help?

Brian Clark refers to himself as a web writer and content producer. He knows a thing or two. What about…’Internet marketeer’ perhaps… The 1 Marketeer! I rather like the Malcolm Coles’ title – ‘Internet Content Expert.’

Call yourself a copywriter?

Thanks to Steve Wampler for the image

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Call yourself a copywriter?

6 Responses

  1. Good post and thanks for linking to my piece about Copify.

    I’ve written a detailed response here.

    Tom Albrighton May 13, 2010 at 10:24 am #
  2. Tom, you’re a star.

    Thanks. Really enjoyed your take in things.

    Especially when you say…

    “It’s this consultancy/service aspect that distinguishes a ‘proper’ copywriter from a content creator. Or to put it another way, clients pay for the thinking, not just the writing. Working with a copywriter who takes the time to engage with you, your values and your character as a business is what makes the difference between getting content and being content. And it’s dispiriting to trade under a name that implies you simply churn out the words without paying much mind to the purpose of the exercise.”

    Martin May 14, 2010 at 8:13 am #
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