Hello! I’m Chris Reeves and I’m a freelance copywriter, a ‘pen for hire’.
Are you wondering whether you would benefit from using a copywriter? As you’re looking at my website it must be something you’re thinking about, so the answer is probably ‘yes’, you would.
Writing ‘great copy’ can be a time-consuming struggle. In fact, even for the ‘professionals’ it can be a challenging, sometimes arduous, process. But, and worse still, all the time you are doing it, you’re not doing what only you do best – your job, which could be as important as running your business.
So, why not get someone else to do it for you?
Rule 1: Think of your audience. Writing ‘good copy’ can sometimes be a real struggle: you have to balance what you want to tell your audience with what they want to know, and that, in reality, may be two, very different things. If what you write is full of jargon, your audience may not understand it. If it’s uninteresting, they may lose the will to live and mentally switch off. Use too many big words and they’ll think you’re being pretentious: use too many small ones and they’ll call you patronising. If it’s not succinct and to the point, they may not grasp it. If it’s too long, they may put it aside – and then never find the time to read it. If you tell them everything, you run the risk of creating ‘over-educated prospects’. If it’s littered with errors, your credibility will take a hammering. If it’s on screen, your reader will move on. ‘Click.’ It’s as easy as that.
But, of course, you know all that! Which is why the press release, feature article, brochure, case study, social media post or website page you’re about to sit down and write has to hit the spot. It’s important. And, if it’s important, it’s worth spending a bit of time on – and that, my friend, can eat up your time very, very, quickly.
Writing is both a skill and an art and both benefit from practise. I’ve been a freelance copywriter for many years and have had the opportunity to practise my art and develop my skills. Added to that, I’ve a ‘classical’ sales and marketing background which gives me a solid foundation to work on. I’m not going to be conceited and tell you “I’m the best!”, but my clients tell me I’m quite good. I can write interesting copy that holds a reader’s attention; can present ideas clearly and use punctuation properly. And those skills are available for you to use – think of me as a copywriting app.
Which means you’ll benefit in two ways. You’ll end up with great copy – and you’ll be able to spend your time doing what you do best: your job.
Choosing any service provider means carefully considering and balancing a mixture of things if you’re going to successfully address the unique requirement you have. It’s something that rarely comes down to price alone – other things can, and often are, more important.
So, what can I offer you, a prospective client who is thinking about hiring a copywriter? Here are my USPs. They’re in no particular order as what’s ‘mission critical’ to one person may not be to someone else.
Proven track record. Probably most importantly, and to everyone, I’ve been a professional copywriter for many years. I’ve written everything from sales letters to obituaries, flyers to brochures and press releases to feature articles. I’ve written text for new websites and helped breathe new life into old ones. And, although I say it myself, I’ve got the plaudits to prove that I’m pretty good at what I do.
Long and varied career. I’ve worked for and with companies and agencies of all sizes, from SMEs to multinational corporations. Some have been product manufacturers, selling both directly and indirectly, others have been supplying a service. During my career I’ve benefitted from a huge amount of training, gained a wide range of skills and amassed a vast repertoire of experience – all of which is available for you to tap into.
We ‘talk the same language’. And that’s important. I have a commercial background and have spent years working in a business-to-business environment. I’m not all ‘education and classroom theory’: I’ve spent time at the coal face, putting theory into action and learning the, sometimes harsh, realities of the business world.
Empathy with you. I’ve worked on both sides of the fence. I’ve had to hire (and fire) agencies and I’ve been the agency that’s been hired (but, happily, not fired!). As someone who has had to hire an agency and then work with them, I can appreciate the trepidation you may be feeling. As someone who has pitched their services to a client, I know what that feels like too.
Empathy with your clients. ‘Think of your audience!’ is a sales and marketing mantra drummed into me from early in my career. It’s quite common for marketeers to be just too close to the product or service they’re offering to be able to present it in an easy-to-understand way. The result? Sometimes, too much is written, resulting in ‘over educated prospects’ (‘less is more’ / ‘always leave them wanting more’ / ‘the objective is to prompt them to make contact’); sometimes there’s too much ‘NASA talk’, which can leave readers baffled, meaning the message is lost on them, and, sometimes, it’s just failing to get to the point.
Great writing skills. Nope, I haven’t got a master’s degree in English, writing or anything else. But I’ve always been something of a bookworm, have always enjoyed reading and just seem to have a natural flair for writing. In fact, throughout my career, I would always be the one tasked to do the writing, and now it’s my job.
Freelance (1). Which means you only pay for what you need – and, importantly, only when you need it. I’m not an agency with offices, staff, marketing budgets, company cars, cleaners and pot plants to pay for – and because I don’t have to, neither do you.
Freelance (2). Being freelance means that I’m probably more reliant on you than you are on me. Copywriting can be time-consuming and I’m limited as to how much I can do: after all, there is only me doing it. It’s easier for you to find another copywriter than it is for me to find another client so I’m always keen to develop a long-term relationship with my clients. Apart from not having to spend time hunting new business, it allows me to gain a better understanding and appreciation of your products, markets and working practices – and that makes a significant difference to what I can provide you with.
‘Representational stability’. This is something not often considered but certainly should be. As a freelancer, there is only me and that means I’m your point of contact for everything. Marketing agencies are notorious for having high staff-turnover rates, and I know from personal experience that having a procession of different ‘account managers’, each of whom need to be re-briefed, can be disruptive. It’s a common complaint from clients.
Copywriter. If you want me to run a PR or advertising campaign, write a marketing plan or create a branding strategy I could do – but it’s not really ‘my job’. I know people who are far better at it than I am and, usually, I’ll refer you to them. It also means, unlike a marketing agency, that I’m not going to be ‘upselling’, chasing you to place extra services with me.
Perfectionist. I believe that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. I enjoy the satisfaction of getting things right; it’s important to me and gives me a buzz. But I do know when to draw a line: there’s a commercial balance that has to be struck.
Professional. If I was asked to describe myself in one word, it would be ‘professional’. I want to provide my services to you in the way that I would expect if I were the client: one that is based on mutual respect, trust and integrity, gives value for money and, of course, provides the results you need.
I don’t like banging my own drum. No matter how good we may like to think we are at doing something, the reality is that we’re only as good as others say we are.
So, here’s a selection of some of the nice things my clients have said about the work they’ve asked me to do. I’ve decided to publish the entire email I received from them, rather than just an extract, as I think it shows greater provenance. Many thanks to all those featured.
Note: the emails are filed on a ‘slider’. What you can actually see is a JPEG and, if you click on one, you’ll be linked to a PDF of the original email.
Although my portfolio shows the end result, it doesn’t show everything I’ve produced or what was involved. A typical example is a two-year trade-press campaign I ran on behalf of Knauf Insulation, the ‘big break’ which got me started. The contract involved writing three ‘product press releases’ every month, placing each release into twenty trade journals and managing the finances and administration. Three press releases in twenty magazines each month for two years works out at 1,440 press releases…
In addition, I’ve run a targeted trade-press marketing campaign; edited a technical-advice manual for use in a call centre and written a multipage, loose-leaf product and technical catalogue. I occasionally receive requests from branding, graphic design and marketing agencies (who sometimes don’t offer a copywriting service) to provide text for work they are doing on behalf of their own clients and, understandably, I can’t show examples of these.
Note: the main montage (‘All’) is also subdivided into seven further categories. If you click on a specific item, a link to a high-quality PDF will appear at the foot of the page.
Copywriting is a bespoke service and that’s what you’re paying for. What you receive doesn’t come in a box off a shelf, it’s planned, researched, crafted and honed especially for you. Every copywriting project, large or small, is unique and needs its own unique approach if it’s to meet your expectations and deliver the benefits you want.
I need to know exactly what you want me to do and that means we need to sit down and agree a specific brief. Apart from setting the objective, the brief will raise a series of questions, most of which will have cost implications and some may be difficult to answer with any certainty – a typical example being the level of research that may be needed. Inevitably, it means I have to work on an hourly-fee basis.
Now, if you think that sounds like you’re giving me a blank cheque, ask yourself how long it would take you to do, and be realistic, and then work out how much that would cost, both in money and ‘lost opportunity’. And, please remember, I would like to do more business with you and if you don’t think I’m giving value for money that’s not going to happen.
I provide detailed time sheets setting out what I’ve done, how long it’s taken and, more importantly, how much time I’m going to bill you for. My fees are equitable, competitive and defendable although, worryingly, on two occasions clients have said they thought I was charging too little, not too much.
There are dozens of idioms and quotes highlighting ‘value for money’ but here are three I think say it all:
As a potential supplier I have to demonstrate that I’ll ‘meet your needs’: that I can provide what you want within the right timescale and at the right price. But I also have to sell myself to you personally as having a good relationship is invariably reflected in the quality of work we produce.
So, to help you decide whether I’m the right person for you, here are a couple of thumbnail sketches: a brief overview of my career followed by a more personal glimpse behind the scenes.