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Who is Responsible for Writing My Web Copy?

where are my words!

Years ago, before we became a full-service digital marketing agency, we were essentially just another website development company in Orange County. Back then we considered it standard procedure that our clients BYOC…Bring Your Own Copy (I just made that up).

We had just finished preparing the framework for a website; graphics layout samples for the homepage and the internal pages. We sent it over to the client for review and he said;

“Words… every website I’ve ever seen has words on it. Where are my words!?”


Hmmm, you know, maybe he has a point. We never discussed who was to produce the copy. It was the early days of the Internet and we just assumed that he knew it was his business, and that he would have to give us the content he wanted on his site.

Well that was a loooong time ago, before “Content is King” became the mantra in the digital marketing age. Now it’s all about content, and everyone plays a role. Which means you have to decide who plays what role BEFOR you embark on that website project or inbound marketing campaign.

Here are Your Options

[This is an expanded excerpt from the eBook “The Digital Marketing Smell Test”. You’re welcome to download your own copy here.]

Option #1: You Write It

OK Hemmingway, let’s get to it. Ha! Not so easy is it? Where do you start? How much time do you have to devote to this? Well you may indeed have the time, the talent and the knowledge to write engaging copy in a search engine friendly fashion (if so there’s a second career waiting for you).

Option #2: You Steal It:

Well that’s convenient, just find a competitor from another state with a great message and copy and paste! Only a couple of problems with that; first…it’s steeling and there may be copyright related issues. Second; Search engines have no use for duplicate copy. Chances are that if you are “borrowing” this copy from another website, you found them through searching. That means that copy has already been indexed by the search engines, and you won’t get any credit for it.

Option #3: You Delegate It:

Actually this can be a very doable option. Providing the person you delegate it to has the time, talent, company and industry knowledge. They probably don’t have much search engine expertise, but if they write in an intriguing, informative and conversational style, your digital marketing agency can probably pick it up from there. A word of caution; emphasize how important this is, and that it isn’t just spare-time busy work. They should be honored to have been selected for such an important task.

Option #4: You Outsource It:

This can actually be an outstanding way to go. There are plenty of freelance copywriters out there along with copywriting networks that guarantee their work. Just be aware that they can’t work in a vacuum, they will need some input and direction from you. We’ve also found we get the best results from working with copywriters in the same country as the target market. Outsourcing to another country rarely ends well.

Option #5: You Write It, They Tweak It:

Another common method is for you to take a stab at it and hand it over to your marketing agency for them to put the finishing touches on it. Assuming they have the resources, they could “punch it up” and make it more engaging while keeping an eye on the search engine factors.

Option #6: They Write It, You Tweak It:

Again, another form of collaboration. Your agency can do the heavy lifting (the research, the organization of the content and the writing) and you can review it for accuracy.

What about Images & Video? Isn’t that content as well?

People don’t read, they scan. They see headlines, bullet points and images before they stop to read the actual copy. Admit it, it was probably the header image on this article that you noticed first. Maybe it caught you eye on Twitter or LinkedIn and that’s the very reason you’re reading this right now. That image didn’t exactly require the services of Annie Leibovitz, but it didn’t design itself.

You Need to Budget Either Time or Money

At the end of the day the content on your website has to come from somewhere, and it’s going to cost you time, or it’s going to cost you money. Which means you need to budget either time, or you need to budget money. Who’s going to write your copy? This is just one of a dozen+ questions you should be asking your agency BEFORE hiring a Digital Agency.
For the full check list, you’re welcome do download “The Digital Marketing Smell Test…How to Hire an Agency that Doesn’t Stink”.
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