Updated: Jul 30
I hadn't planned on writing a blog about trust. Like most things in life that we invest in, we research before dipping into our pockets or taking a calculated leap of faith. Calculated. Key word there.
No 'winging it.'
Anyway, earlier this week I fell upon a blog written by super-hero/entrepreneur/influencer/author, Neil Patel.
I don't know a great deal about Patel, but I do know that he's deemed a trustworthy voice by many (287k Instagram followers, 372,000 Twitter followers, 1 million Facebook fans, and over 31-million views on YouTube to be precise). His articles have been recommended to me in the past when I've pondered over marketing tactics, and I've always been suitably impressed with his knowledge and offering. He also seems like a really nice chap.
That was then.
The mere title of his blog has angered me somewhat.
'10 Lies Freelance Copywriters Like to Tell You.'
Now, while I am absolutely certain that Patel feels justified in critiquing copywriters due to his self-confessed vast experience, and while I'm equally convinced that he's worked with hundreds, if not thousands, millions perhaps of copywriters, I'm not sure that the title required the sour inflection that it received.
I'm always the first to express my passion on the subject of titling your work. Much like your front door, your title prompts an initial impression that either attracts or deters a visitor; it sets the tone of the piece and allows potential readers to either comfortably continue or to rapidly escape. A bad title is like a door covered in dog poo. A good title has a flowery wreath and a 'welcome' mat.
Let's discuss Patel's title. What's Patel's title trying to do? Is it trying to encourage people to choose a copywriter sensibly? Is it a rounded piece that talks of the pro's and con's of using a copywriter? Or is it, quite plainly, going straight for the jugular and implying that freelance copywriters (yup, me!) like to lie to you?
Like to lie. Not even just lie. No, that's not enough. We like it! We like telling juicy lies.
Cackle. Cackle. Cackle.
In the meantime, I'd like to address a few of his chirpy little points.
"I charge the same rate for every client!"
...said no copywriter ever and if they did then they're 1) delusional, 2) mental, or 3) weird.
It's both an impossibility and a mass generalisation!
'Hey, Mr. McDonalds CEO. Fear not, I'll charge you the same as I charge Bob the chippie- owner up the road for his flyers. It's all good, dude!"
I've no doubt that Patel has worked with zillions of copywriters, but someone actually said this?!
"I can whip it together as fast as you need it!"
Okay, I'm sure someone has said this. There's no way Patel would make it up to round his blog off neatly.
In truth, his above headline is tame and fairly inoffensive. I can't say I'd ever use such lingo as it sounds more like something a Subway staff member might say to a busy consumer.
To quote Patel; 'great copywriters are usually fast typists, and the writing part might only take a few hours...'
True. Not that I'd ever refer to myself as being a 'great' anything but the sentiment is true.
"But the research, brainstorming, editing, and revising add up quickly..."
All good. Perfectly valid point. Research takes the most time; ensuring that you're up to date with the subject is an integral part of the process. There's the draft, then the edit, then another edit, another...
"Expect for a high-quality copywriter to take weeks for an assignment. Any copywriter who can finish a project in a few hours or days isn’t putting in the time to make something worthwhile."
Now this is plain insulting. Come on, Patel! How on earth have you come up with such rot?
Firstly, it all depends on the content. If it's a blog. Two blogs. Three blogs. Quite easily produced in a few days. If it's copy for an entire website or a complete e-learning hub, then naturally it'll take a few weeks. But generally speaking, copywriters need to have a fairly quick turnaround or there'd be a perpetual state of stagnancy. Nothing should ever be rushed, that's where bad results are borne, but you do have to meet deadlines. It isn't as simple as kicking back on your sun lounger with a Nespresso and a Macbook.
Mind you, he has met a zillion copywriters, so I'm sure he knows his stuff.
"I'm not allowed to share my portfolio"
If this wasn't so tragically true, it'd be laughable. The truth of the matter is, many organisations don't like to admit that they're lacking in expertise - this is a weakness according to the big dogs at the top, and weakness doesn't make you money. I've had plenty of experience with clients politely requesting me to avoid sharing my work on websites or social media. It isn't always the way, but it's the nature of the beast generally speaking, particularly when working with the larger conglomerates. Sadly, it can make work-sharing a little tricky.
Patel goes on to say "If they don’t have published projects they can share, they’ll have some unpublished examples they wrote just for that reason."
Yeah. Hmmm. Okay, what Patel is missing here is the fundamental fact that potential clients want to see published work in its natural habitat. They want a clickable link that takes them to the very page that breathes their work. What they don't want, is a Word or Google document that could have been written there and then and rammed into their inbox (cough).
But with his quillions of copywriting colleagues, he'd already know this.
I'm sure Patel's a decent bloke and I'm certain that he didn't intend to blast every single last one of us 'full of s***!' freelance copywriters out of the water with his venomous snakey tongue. Instead, I choose to believe that his sole purpose was to urge potential copywriter-seekers to be selective in their hunt, and in the event of them using any single one of the above comments, I happen to wholly agree with him. You should avoid like a busy newsagent, mid-pandemic.
To conclude, how do you find a trustworthy copywriter?
The answer is simple. Research. Research. Research. Ask them for examples of their work, and see if you can speak to previous or existing clients. I'll follow up with another blog that tackles key points to bring up with a potential copywriter to ensure that you're in good hands, but in the meantime, make sure they have a full understanding of precisely what it is you're after before proceeding.
Us freelance copywriters....
We can be trusted, in spite of what Patel has to say. The guy has a huge following and can influence with ease. Not nice. It isn't cool to say that we all tell porkies.
Perhaps there are a few con-merchant rob-dogs out there, there are in any industry. But the majority of us want to produce excellent, captivating, and engaging copy for you - it's a great feeling when you have a happy client.
But Patel knows best with his hundred-zillion copywriter buddies.
If you'd like to read the famous blog, here it is.
Free sales pitch there, Neil Patel!