FAQ

 

One should always ask questions, and especially if you’re considering working with a copywriter or someone entrusted to “be your voice”. Typical questions: Who are you? What do you write? How much will it cost? How long will it take? When can you start? These are obviously some fundamental questions I’ve been asked as a copywriter.

Below, I’ve answered these and other questions concerning copywriting in general and my experience and the services I offer. If you have any question that is not answered here, please contact me at +1 916-245-2224 or hello@shirleyulbrich.com.

 

BASICS

What Is Copyrighting?

This is a good start.  Copywriters don’t have anything to do with the registration of patents, intellectual property, brand logo usage rights, etc. These things pertain to copyright, and not copywriting.

So what is copywriting?

That can be a tough question to answer. There are probably as many definitions of copywriting as there are copywriters.

 

 

 

Copywriting is part craft, part science, part technique, part art, with a bit of experience, natural talent, and psychology thrown in. Confused? Then I’ll stick to the more straightforward explanation I’ve used over the past 11+ years.

 

‘Copywriting is the optimum use of the written or spoken word to promote a product, business, person or idea. Carefully selecting, constructing and editing those words in a way that will persuade the reader or listener to take specific and measurable action.’

 

A copywriter produces copy (words) that’s used to persuade the reader to take the desired action; to advertise or to explain a product or service; to form some sort of contract; to bring information or news, or make the reader aware of a brand.

What does a copywriter do?

From engaging with your customers or clients to enhancing your brand, a good copywriter will be able to sufficiently understand you and your objectives, distill your market and intended audience, and communicate with them in such a way that compels them to take your desired action.

 

As you may have detected yourself, this is not always as straightforward as it may sound. Sometimes you might be able to hammer out a page of brochure copy the first time within just a couple of hours. At other times you can spend days agonizing over a single strapline.

 

Creativity doesn’t come on tap. It doesn’t drop off the end of a production line. It takes a professional to get consistently excellent results. Natural talent is a bonus, but there’s no substitute for the knowledge and judgment that comes with years of experience, a huge success, and the occasional catastrophe.

 

Whether a direct mail, brochure, website, advertisement, sales letter or any other form of communication with a customer, a stakeholder, a supplier, good copy should be straightforward without being dull, intelligent without being smug, and lively without being breathless. In fact, this should be the case with anyone who comes into contact with your business. 

Why do I need a copywriter?

‘It’s only words. I know how to speak English, and my spelling’s not all that bad.’

 

Everyone thinks they can write, but there really is a difference between putting one word in front of another and writing compelling, entertaining, and engaging copy that gets to the point succinctly and achieves its intended goal.

 

Let me explain. It’s sort of like doing your own home decorating. It’s never really going to be as impressive as if you’d called in the professionals, but hey, it’ll do. But then, after a little while, you start to notice the little things that begin to bug you.

 

It’s the same deal with copywriting. You can write it yourself, but it will never be as good as if you’d hired a freelance copywriter. Spelling mistakes, wrong tenses, wrong tone – I’ve seen it all.

 

So, did you save yourself any time and hassle? Think of all that time you spent writing, re-writing and refining. What about all that potential business you’ve missed out on by having a sales letter, brochure, or website that’s not doing what it’s supposed to?

 

And if you’re wondering by now why you should work with me, here are just a few reasons.

What's the difference between a copywriter and content writer?

Nothing. They are the same. The term content writing or content creation is often used by web designers to mean writing for the web – a webpage, an online advertisement or a blog post.

How do I inform a copywriter of what I want?

I like my relationships to be as straightforward and uncomplicated as possible. So I try to adopt the same straightforward approach with each project whether it’s writing web content for a global pharmaceutical giant or a piece of direct mail for a local crafts center. It’s one that has continually brought success throughout 11+ years of writing.

 

Once you’ve decided to work with me, I’ll take you through the orienting process. To make sure that I gather all of the information I need, I’ll ask you to complete a short questionnaire.

 

This document contains questions about your company, its objectives and goals; your products or services; your customers, their motivations and pain points; the marketplace; and finally, the ever-important call to action. Your answers to these questions will give me the detailed information I need to find the “voice”. I’ll then do some research and if required, telephone interviews.

 

Complex projects may benefit significantly from an initial meeting, but the majority of work can be easily done by phone and email. I’ve worked with clients across the US, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Africa and the Far East very successfully without actually ever meeting them.

For a copy of my copywriting questionnaire, click here.

What are your Terms of Business?

For a full copy of my Terms, please click here.
 

ABOUT

What's your availability?
At any one time I usually have at least three or four projects in progress, but many of these are fluid, so I’m often able to take on new work. However, if I’m particularly busy or I feel that an associate might be better suited, then I’m happy to recommend some other talented and experienced writers.
Where are you located? Should we meet?
Ordinarily, unless you’ve got an extensive and complex project, a face-to-face meeting isn’t necessary, and I don’t make any provision for them in my quotes. It’s much quicker, easier, and cheaper if we communicate by telephone and email. I regularly work successfully with clients across the US and internationally in this way. We will work by phone, email, Skype or Google Hangout. The process will move along smoothly as if we were both in the same city.
What is your writing style preference?
My personal writing style is conversational.  I write as though I am speaking directly with the reader.  However, when it comes to writing for clients, it’s not my job to use my particular method. I need to be versatile and adopt the style and tone that best suits the client and the objective of the communication.
What copywriting services do you offer?
As an experienced copywriter, I offer a wide range of copywriting services, whether you require content for print, digital or web.

 

 

  • corporate brochure copywriting
  • promotional brochure copywriting
  • company magazine copywriting
  • strapline copywriting
  • tagline copywriting
  • slogan copywriting
  • information pack content
  • leaflet copywriting
  • press release writing
  • case study writing
  • website content/web copywriting
  • direct mail copywriting
  • brand story copywriting
  • business profile copywriting
  • executive biography copywriting
  • tone of voice guidelines
  • social media content (facebook, twitter, google+, LinkedIn)
  • white paper writing
  • ebook content
  • landing page content
  • print advertising copywriting
  • digital advertising copywriting
  • catalog copywriting
  • product description copywriting
  • annual report copywriting
  • business review copywriting
  • business letter and email copywriting
  • sales letter and email copywriting
  • copy critique

AND MUCH MORE! 

Go to my other website for details: www.designwebpassion.com

 

QUALIFICATIONS 

What copywriting experience do you have?
I’ve been a professional freelance copywriter since 2006.

 

I’ve produced copy for almost a thousand businesses, of all shapes and sizes.

I’ve worked with companies across every continent.

I’ve worked with companies of all sizes, from local startups to multi-national corporations.

I’ve collaborated with more than 200 design, web, and marketing agencies and independent freelancers.

I’ve written about a vast range of business sectors and interest areas.

I’m a former California State Foster Parent Association newsletter chairperson who received 4-time national recognition in the organization for my newsletter.

I’m a former Sacramento County Foster Parent Association newsletter chairperson and VP.

I bring over 20 years of business writing experience with me.

I’ve written speeches for political organizations and their officers.

I’m the preferred copywriter for dozens of social design, marketing, and advertising agencies.

Around 60% of my work comes from client recommendations, repeat business, and agency referrals.

Click here to download a one-page document outlining my credentials.

Do you have any knowledge of my specific sector or industry?
I might have and might not. Not that it matters, really. As Cato said, ‘Grasp the subject. The words will follow’.

During my career, I’ve written for a broad range of businesses across an equally diverse range of sectors and industries. And while I have better knowledge of some more than others, it’s not always necessary to have experience in a particular business arena. In fact, not doing so often proves to be an advantage.

My job will be to make sure that your customers can easily understand your business. I come to you with a knowledge of words, experience business, maybe even insight into your industry, with a fresh and objective perspective.

 

TIME 

How long will it take to write my copy?
 This depends on some things – the size and complexity of the project; how quickly you want it; what information you can supply and how fast you can supply it; and my workload at the time. Ordinarily, I can turn around shorter pieces within 1-72 hours, while more substantial, more complex projects may involve in-depth research or interviews and will, of course, take longer. I’ll always create your content as quickly as possible but will never compromise on quality or detail. A deadline will always be agreed with you during our initial discussions or at the briefing stage before the creative process begins.
I need content urgently. Can you help?
Yes, I might be able to. However, if undertaking your work involves me having to reschedule other client work or work extended hours I may need to charge a little more, although I’ll make you aware of this before I make a start. If it’s urgent, it may be best to call rather than email me.
 

PAYMENT

Do you require a deposit?
Yes, if we haven’t worked together before, then I will ask you to pay a deposit of 50% on commission, with the balance payable on completion of the project.
How much do you charge for your copywriting services?
I quote each project individually because every project is different. I do my best to assess the complexity of a project and the level of expertise the project requires.

 

My rates are competitive. As a freelance writer, I work out of my home office, so overhead is minimal, and that is reflected in my prices.

What is your hourly rate for writing?
I always get this question, so allow me to explain my philosophy on pricing.  I don’t charge for my copywriting services by the hour, although I factor in the number of hours needed to complete the project. There’s a reason I do it this way.

The amount of time spent to write your copy is irrelevant. What is important to you is results, right?

If you pay a meager rate for your copy, but it doesn’t generate leads or sales for you the way you expected, you’ve essentially wasted your money. Wouldn’t you prefer to have paid a little more for copy that does the job and gives you a robust ROI?

The reason you are hiring a copywriter like me is not to save money. You’re actually paying me for the 11+ years of copywriting, and marketing experience I have that will ensure you’ll get high-quality, professional copy that achieves your specific objectives. I base my fees on the perceived value I provide, and not time.

In the long run, good copy doesn’t cost you money; it makes you money by efficiently selling your products or services.

 

Buying copy is sort of like buying a suit, a meal, or a car. You get what you pay for. You can undoubtedly go cheap and cheerful if you want, but you tend to reap what you sow. My prices are in the midrange, and my services offer a fair cost/benefit equation for many types of organizations.

Will you give me a quote before you start the work?
Of course.  I recognize that budgets are tight and nobody hands over a blank check to a service provider. You’ll fill out a short questionnaire, and we’ll talk.  I’ll get a clear understanding of your copywriting project. Then I’ll give you a firm quote and a timeline before work begins.

My clients, without exception, feel they get excellent value for their money. In addition to great copy and first-rate service, they receive the benefits of my marketing expertise and business know-how.

How much will my copy cost?
I don’t know yet. It depends on what you want.

Writing copy – and I mean proper copy and not the stuff sold for peanuts by copy mills and written by moonlighting journalists, failed poets, frustrated novelists and students – involves a mix of art, science, experience, insight, luck, and judgment. Talent is always a bonus.

I’m pretty candid about my rates and try hard to be fair. I work on the premise that crafting the right words together are worth a lot and should cost (relatively) little. Even with 11+ years’ broad experience, I prefer to keep my fees relatively low and terms as straightforward as possible.

Every piece of work is different, unique and original. So, for your benefit and mine, I prefer to charge on a project basis, giving you a fixed cost before a single word is written. This charge is based on my experience and assessment of the time it will take, the experience I bring to it, the advice and expertise I offer and the unique value I add.

This fee covers the cost of all my services from start to finish. This, unless otherwise agreed, will include consultation, research, planning, writing, evaluation, submission of a first draft, any reasonable revisions (assigned within ten working days) and frequent communication (telephone, email, SKYPE, postage).

 

PROCESS 

What kind of information will you need from me?
I never presume that what may have been done before was the best, nor do I try to reinvent the wheel for the sake of it. So I invest a high percentage of my time reviewing your questionnaire and research phase, where answers to such questions as “who, what, why, when and how” can naturally make all the difference. The more information and material you’re able to provide the better the result will be initially. I’d appreciate having access to background information about your organization and your product or service, a few examples of your previous advertising and any relevant promotional material.

 

 

Also if you have any ideas with regards tone of voice, style of writing, proposed structure, topics to avoid, mandatory inclusions – basically, anything you can think of that might be of use to me when planning and writing would be helpful. I will ask you to complete an in-depth questionnaire. Your answers to the questions will provide most of the information I’m looking for. All these things contributed upfront will help speed up the process.

Do you collaborate on pitches or projects?
Yes, I will happily discuss collaboration with an agency or another freelance creative. My fees and terms are negotiable depending on the nature of the pitch. If you’ve got something in mind, give me a call at +1.916.245.2224 or drop me a line at hello@shirleyulbrich.com.
What about confidentiality?
The nature of my work means that I am regularly exposed to confidential information of varying degrees from both private and public sector sources. I take this trust most seriously and have never compromised any of my clients. As a former medical foster parent, I am very adept at confidentiality. If you need further assurance, I’m pleased to sign a confidentiality agreement.
Will I own the copyright to the work you do for me?
Absolutely, 100 percent. Once the work is completed, and payment has been received in full, all rights for the copy I’ve written revert to you.
Can you work at my business premises?
It’s not always possible for me to drive. I can almost always achieve the same results on the telephone, by email or on Skype, so I usually work from my office. It’s warm, quiet, well-equipped and it ensures that my time can be spent more efficiently.
Do you offer other creative services?
Yes, I do have additional skills, so just ask. Also, I am part of an extensive network of freelance creative professionals including other copywriters, PR’s, web developers, marketers, graphic designers, illustrators and photographers, all of who I would be happy to recommend to you.
What if I don't like the first draft of copy?
I’m good but by no means perfect. I aim to produce and submit the ideal copy the first time, and every time. With a little tweaking, I come pretty close to the mark with my first draft.  If that’s not the case, however, don’t worry. I’ll use the draft as a starting point from which I can clarify which parts you like and which parts you don’t want. For you to be happy with the final version, the end result, then honest feedback is vital as your comments and revisions will help me to shape and refine the copy.

 

My fee includes as many changes or modifications as is required (within reason) until you are fully satisfied with the finished version of the copy. On the infrequent occasions where a client has thought I missed the mark, we have parted amicably every time (almost).

I'd like to work with you. What happens now?
Once you’ve decided that you’d like to work with me, just contact me either at +1.916.245.2224, at hello@shirleyulbrich.com. You can also fill out the form on the website’s page.

 

Once I’ve had a chance to get some details about your project, I’ll put together a quote and email it to you within 24 hours. Depending on what the project involves, in some cases, I may be able to provide you with a ball-park figure right away, so you have a better idea of how much your project will cost and so you’ll be able to compare it with any other quotes you may have sourced.

 

Then, if you’re happy with my quote, I’ll need to find out more about your background, your service or product, your message and your audience. With 11+ years’ as a professional copywriter, there’s a good chance that I’ll have written about your market sector, interest area,  or at least something similar before, speeding up the learning curve and helping to save you money. Next, I’ll put together some initial draft content for you to approve or make changes. Finally, once you are satisfied with it, I’ll email you the finished final version.

 

RESOLUTION

What if I want to change something or have to cancel the project?
 I provide a quote for each project based on the parameters we discuss and agree to. As long as the scope of the original project doesn’t change very much, then the agreed costs include any reasonable revisions. If there are any significant changes, however, we will need to reassess the overall impact on time and cost. If for any reason you have to cancel a project, and I’ve already started work on it, then a kill fee of up to 50% will be incurred.
I've just started my own business and money is very tight. Can you help?
I can but probably not in the way you’re thinking. If you’re just starting out and have a small budget, I’ll do my very best to give you the best possible price. However, please remember that I’m a professional and earn my living as a copywriter. If I work for free, then my children don’t eat (so to speak). If you’ve already drafted your own copy, you should consider taking advantage of my Copy Critique service. Why not give me a call and we can talk it over.
I need lots of blog posts but have minimal budget. Can you help?
Sorry, not at this time. I don’t get involved in copy mill style projects. Perhaps instead you should search Google for a cheap blog writer or contact one of the growing numbers of umbrella sites like Freelancer.com or Upwork – you’ll find lots of people willing to throw together poorly written content for ridiculously small amounts of money. (I know because that’s where I started.)

 

But BE CAREFUL.

A cheap copy will end up costing you regarding search engine visibility, reputation, and sometimes even copyright. This type of content is almost invariably poorly written, full of spelling mistakes, bad grammar, and punctuation, and is often directly cut, copied and pasted from other sources. In the long term, they’ll put off both search engines and prospective customers.

If, however, you want well-researched, original and dynamic content, well-written, and are willing to pay the going rate for it, contact me.

Can you write a website content that will get me to page one of Google?
The straight answer is that no-one, no matter what they promise, can guarantee a listing high up on page one of Google. Anyone that does is not being honest and is either promoting terms that no one is searching for or using ‘spamming’ techniques which will eventually be penalized by search engines.

Along with structure and design, the way in which a website is written is one of a series of critical factors which determines how it is ranked by search engines.

 

The chances are that you found my site because it was rated highly for the search term you entered. That’s because of the way it’s written (SEO optimization) and the words included in the content.

So while I can’t make any promises, I can certainly ensure that your content and SEO is enhanced to give you the very best chance of being ranked highly in search engines for terms that are considered relevant to your business or organization.

How do I know which copywriter is most suitable for my project?
If you’re looking for a freelance copywriter, there is plenty of choices, and thanks to Google, they’re now all at your fingertips. Choosing a copywriter isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly. Not if you’re about to trust them with your all-important reputation. Like any other industry, there are good ones and bad ones. So how can you make sure that you choose the right copywriter for your project?

 

There’s really no definitive and authoritative answer. You should ask yourself a few questions to make sure they have the necessary skills and experience to carry out your project.

 

You should consider what copywriting experience they have and if they are affordable. Do they seem to understand your sector, your company and the type of the work you’re considering them to do? Do they actually listen to you and ask the right questions or just talk about themselves? And finally, ask to see examples of their work.

 

In truth, you can ask as many questions as you want to but it all comes down to instinct. Ask yourself: Do I like them? Could I work with them? And will their words do my company product or service justice?

Wouldn't it be cheaper to write the content myself?
Sure, it would be. How hard can it be? It’s only words. I’m sure that your spelling isn’t too bad. However, before you start merrily tapping away, let me point out a few things.

Everyone can write to some extent, but there’s a difference between being able to put a word in front of another one and writing compelling, engaging copy that successfully captures the attention of a reader and motivates them to take the desired action.

That sort of success comes with years of experience, knowledge, and judgment.

It’s a little like doing your own decorating. It’s never going to be as impressive and coordinated as if you’d called a professional. But hey, it’ll do. Pretty soon, you start to notice some things that just aren’t right.

It’s the same with copywriting. You can write it yourself, but it will never be as good as it could be if you’d hired a freelance copywriter in the first place. Spelling mistakes, missing words, wrong tenses, fuzzy vocabulary – I’ve seen them all.

So, would you really save yourself time and money? Think of the time invested writing and re-writing. And what about all that potential business you’ve missed out on by having a website, sales letter, or brochure that didn’t do precisely what was intended.

If you want to be confident that your words engage with your customers, enhance your brand, and sell your products and services, then you really need to talk to an experienced professional copywriter or content writer.

And by professional, I mean someone who works with words all day and not one of those failed poets, frustrated novelists and strapped-for-cash students that churn out meaningless drivel through copy mills like Freelancer.

If you’re wondering why you should work with me in particular, here are just a few reasons. – link goes to “Are you lost for words?” with button: Let me help you.

Will you write a free sample for me?
If you’re asking me to spend my time blindly throwing together something in a rush without a proper briefing of your company, the opportunity for information gathering, and without pay, as a kind of application process that might lead to some paying work, then probably not. Anyway, writing sample copy is pretty much a pointless exercise and not in the least bit helpful to you.

If we accept that you’re not just asking so you can get some free copy; even if I were to throw together a few hundred words, it wouldn’t be representative of my work. I start each project with research and detailed interviews. Without these crucial parts of the process, you’ll end up with a half-baked load of copy which will definitely fail to impress any savvy reader.

Anyway, try asking a plumber to fix your toilet before you decide whether you like their work and want them to continue on the rest of the bathroom. Other professionals don’t provide free samples; they expect potential clients to evaluate them on their portfolio, experience, personality and professional reputation.

So while it might seem like a reasonable request, after 11+ years as a professional freelance copywriter, I’ve built up enough experience, a solid reputation, and a varied enough portfolio to give visitors a good idea of whether I can write or not.

Questions are the root of all answers.
Don’t Be Shy!