What does a copywriter do? How long does it take to write a website?


What does a copywriter do? How long does it take to write a website?


I’ve been a professional business writer in the UK for more than 20 years. Our Britishness can sometimes make it hard to ask questions. Here are few that come up and my answers:

What does a copywriter do?

A copywriter writes copy. Copy means words or text. In advertising this could be the strapline such as “Naughty but nice”. It could be a description of a museum on a flyer. Or a catalogue description of a product.

I specialise in web content, writing the about us pages, service or product descriptions and metadata to make it Google-friendly.

Can I just write the website words myself?

Absolutely. Many businesses do. But many businesses are then disappointed to find their beautiful website is languishing in Google rankings. Or that customers are confused by it.

“We are not our customers” is wise advice. We already know all about the service or product we offer. It helps to have a non-specialist ask the questions customers would.

Can a website answer all my customers’ questions?

No, but if a website can answer 80% of them, that gives you more time to answer the trickier 20%. Also a website is online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Do you want to miss out on a big order from Australia because you’re not there to answer a simple question?

Can I just send you our marketing plan rather than meeting?

My copywriting holds up a mirror to you and repackages your words in the most appealing way to customers. Talking, be that in person, on the phone or on Skype, allows me to discover what’s bubbling at the top of your mind.

It’s not an inquisition, just a chat to find out what you want the website to do, who your ideal customer is and how you want to present your business. I’ll also note down the words and phrases you like to use. This helps give the flavour of what your brand or company is all about.

Do you offer coding or graphic design skills?

I am not a web developer or graphic designer. However I can manipulate images in Photoshop. This can come in handy, especially during web content migration projects. I’ve made all the graphics on this website using off-the-peg botanical images and stock images.

I can also handcode HTML and so understand a little about coding structure. This helps when identifying bugs and changing the nuts and bolts of structure in older content management systems, for example during the Hadrian’s Wall website project.

I know some excellent professional coders and designers here in York and further afield whom I can recommend.

How long does it take to write a website?

It depends on its complexity. I usually aim to work on a ‘shop window’ website of 10 pages over a month, depending how quickly we can communicate. I’m not writing constantly but dealing with other projects and clients.

Can I use the web copy you’ve written for us elsewhere?

Absolutely! Once I’ve received your final payment, I will transfer the copyright of the work I’ve created to you. Past clients have adapted my words for:

  • Social media content
  • Pitches and proposals
  • Leaflets and flyers
  • Adverts
  • Background information for journalists and trade fair directories

We’re a start-up. When should we approach you?

Congratulations! Starting your own business is hugely rewarding. However if you’ve a thousand ideas as to what your business produces or delivers, hold off.

I’ll write content based on what you tell me. So make sure you’re clear what your service, project or charity goal is first.

Does copywriting come before web designing?

If your navigation structure is obvious, then no. If you need my help structuring pages into logical sections, then yes.

Most web designers just use dummy content to kick off the design process. More complicated projects such as the Durham Cathedral overhaul needed me to write example pages of Home, section pages and sub pages first. It depends on your project.

Is copywriting anything to do with copyright?

A copywriter – with an w – writes copy, as in text. Copyright – with an r – refers to the legal right of someone to use something. However copywriters have to be aware of plagiarism and, on the web, not using photos illegally. Read more about this in my article on The lowdown on image copyright.

Can you provide a free sample of your copywriting?

I’m afraid not. This web page shows my writing style – succinct and conversational, peppered with questions. Please take a look at my portfolio of past projects for more of a taster.

How can I get in contact?

Just email me at helen@inkgardener.co.uk or call me on 07929 948 743.

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