It’s hard to find a good copywriter

Last week we were approached by a prospective client to whom our copywriting service had been recommended by a colleague. They were keen to discover what we do, how we write and whether we fit in with their requirements. During our initial conversation they said: “It’s hard to find a good copywriter.”

This is interesting, considering there are thousands of freelance copywriters available.

So what makes a good copywriter?

In our view, a good copywriter understands the clients’ objectives. What does the client want their readers to do: call their phone number, visit their web site or buy something? The copywriter must also understand the identity of the audience: businesses or/and consumers; young or/and old; male or/and female; plus a thousand other variables.

With this understanding, the copywriter writes in a style appropriate to that audience, using the language these specific readers like to hear, and which they can understand easily.

Not every copywriter is able, or wants, to write for every audience; they all have personal preferences and specialities. While it is generally easy for a copywriter to write about almost anything, that is not to say that a copywriter specialising in one field will be able to write about another field with the same success.

Then there’s the client-copywriter relationship. As with many services, there needs to be a good working relationship to enable the smooth flow of ideas.

And, finally, a good copywriter must be able to write good copy.

Robert Zarywacz

Thoughts on becoming a proofreader

Often we receive questions about how to start a career as a proofreader.

Now, we started proofreading almost by accident. When setting up our business, I was asked to proofread for Safeway Stores. 10 years later we were still proofreading for Safeway at the time it was bought out by Morrisons.

Since 1994 we have proofread for many organisations, mainly businesses. Our experience is wholly commercial, so we cannot speak for the book publishing industry.

Below are our requirements for success in commercial proofreading:

1. You need to be precise, accurate and methodical, and able to spot mistakes and inconsistencies.

2. You need an understanding of grammar and punctuation, as well as the ability to spell.

3. For commercial proofreading, you need common sense and judgement. If a client asks you to proofread text written specifically for a specialist market, such as teenagers, the writing may not be consistent with what some people call standard English. The text must be proofread with this in mind and the appropriate ‘rules’ of language applied, which are not necessarily the ones you would choose to adhere to for your own writing. So commercial awareness and judgement is required.

4. You need to be familiar with computer document formats, including word processing and PDF files, which can be amended or annotated on screen. Most commercial proofreading is undertaken electronically and annotations to paper copies are rarely used.

5. Language is always changing and you must keep up with this, whether or not you agree with the changes. As a proofreader, you can help to influence the evolution of English by ensuring it retains its intelligence, usefulness and beauty.

A proofreader can feel satisfied when a proofread text that is published reads well, is easy to understand and pleases the reader.

Robert Zarywacz

Telephone: 0333 0444 354