How businesses can create great copy on a budget

Great copywriting is massively important, and if you don’t believe me, just see how much money top sales copywriters charge per word (chances are it’s a lot more than you think). The biggest brands in the world will spend vast piles of money to get slight improvements in their core slogans.

Now, the average business isn’t going to have the budget for something like great copy — but it’s vital to make every effort to get your content as polished as possible. Whether it’s for your website, your emails, your ad landing pages, or any other facet of your operation. And thankfully enough, it doesn’t have to cost the world to achieve a pretty decent standard.

To get your content performing better, you might need to spend some money, or do the work yourself, or find some combination of the two. In this piece, we’re going to cover how businesses (such as yours, perhaps!) can create great copy on a budget. Let’s get started.

Learning how to write copy

Realistically, the only way to create genuinely great content on a limited budget is to take the budget out of the equation, which means doing it yourself. And doing it yourself means learning how to write.

If you want to do it, you might want to try a copywriting course. Good courses can be expensive, but when you add up the time and money you’ll save from creating your own copy for years to come instead of bringing in outside help, you’ll find that a decent course will pay for itself fairly quickly.

In addition, there are countless fantastic books on copywriting that make it straightforward to pick up valuable tips at your own pace (and at very low cost).

Combine course materials and independent study, and the only other thing you’ll need to do is keep practising. You won’t get better if you don’t write, so try to produce regular content — even if you think it’s bad. Consider joining a copywriting community in order to get high-quality feedback, but make sure you can take constructive criticism!

Using helpful tools

There are various tools you can use that will help you to rapidly improve your copy. If you’re trying to make the most of your email marketing, use subject line tester tools until you know exactly what you’re looking to achieve with every email you send.

And then there are writing tools like Grammarly and ProWritingAid, plus free tools like Hemingway App. Used regularly, they can give you invaluable real-time assessment of your work, helping you efficient eradicate your bad habits and get into a rhythm of producing web-optimised copy.

Crowdsourcing ideas

If you have a team, then you need to find a way to get everyone involved in your creative process. Two heads are better than one, after all. When you’re in the content planning stage, gather your team together and start discussing ideas. Look for immediate feedback and try to see how many ideas you can get down in an hour or so.

You can narrow down the list of options later, turning general concepts into specific articles titles. You can then get your team back together and float those titles. This process will allow you to keep iterating upon your work, eliminating any horrible ideas and maintaining a fairly solid quality standard.

Getting outside input

Anyone who has ever written anything longer than a page or two knows that it isn’t easy (or advisable) to edit your own content. The longer you stare at something, the less able you are to see the details. As such, a big part of creating great copy is getting external input.

Try running drafted copy by people totally uninvolved with your main business process. You could ask a prospective customer, or a family member, or a vague acquaintance. From the perspective of someone unfamiliar with the topic, is your copy clear? Does it make worthwhile points?

You might need to bribe a friend with some minor incentive, but it would be entirely worth it to pick up on any lingering typos and help you give your content the broad appeal it needs to be truly successful online.

Running tests

Whatever medium plays host to a piece of copy — whether it’s a landing page, an email, a product page, or a PPC ad — there’s a way to meaningfully test it so that you can improve it. You may think that a piece of content is amazingly brilliant, but if it doesn’t serve its marketing purpose, it’s useless. To make your content better, you need to know what’s working and what isn’t.

By testing open rates for your emails, you can improve your subject lines. By testing conversion rates for your landing pages, you can improve your headlines and CTAs. From the very first piece of content you produce for your marketing, find the time to test the results and keep improving. Over time, you’ll get better at working efficiently, which will save you money and make your content even better.

Building blogging teams

If you have a team of people willing to write, you can do more than just get everyone involved in the planning stages — you can task each team member with creating pieces of content on a set schedule. That way, you get the benefit of differing perspectives and styles, something that can work very well for a business (though only if properly managed).

Even if you only have a small team, spreading content out in this way — and giving everyone a little extra time to spend on it instead of performing their regular duties — will provide you with a steady stream of in-house material. Just make sure they’re actually happy to do it!

Hiring budget copywriters

If you simply can’t get enough done in-house, you can always hire a writer without spending a fortune. There are freelance writers who will happily work for relatively little. The old adage of ‘you get what you pay for’ does have some significance here, but it’s not such a problem if you go about it in a smart way.

For instance, you can hire a few copywriters for a small task to find one who stands out (there are lots of talented amateurs who will gladly work for little to build up their portfolios), and if you pick out one with evident talent, you can arrange an ongoing deal for a very reasonably price.

Alternatively, you could hire freelancers to write your initial drafts, then use in-house talent to turn those drafts into completed pieces. This is a good way of speeding things up significantly while keeping the quality high and preserving your brand voice.

Encouraging customer reviews

Great copy doesn’t have to be something you wrote or commissioned. Indeed, one of the best ways to fill a business page is with customer reviews, particularly if it’s on an eCommerce site (if you run an eCommerce store that doesn’t have clear review options, consider migrating to a platform that offers them by default — a system like Shopify’s all-rounder estore designer can provide both strong review functionality and the prospect of a subdomain blog).

When unfamiliar visitors land on a page, good reviews can prove invaluable for convincing them to buy — all because social proof is astonishingly powerful. What’s more, reviews tend to naturally feature relevant long-tail keywords, making them great for improving your SEO and thus bringing in more visitors.

Getting user-generated content

As well as getting reviews from people, you can use them for fully-featured content. Firstly, you can approach your known visitors with ideas, inviting them to write free content for your blog or feature on your social media channels in some fashion. Since people like getting the spotlight, this will likely work well.

Secondly, you can approach industry experts to ask for guest posts. Since marketing people have a solid understanding of the reciprocal value of guest posting, your approaches are likely to be successful if you can find people who understand promotion. Bring in someone influential in your niche, feature them on your blog, and get featured on their social media in the process. It’s a lot of value at no real cost.

Having reasonable expectations

By doing some or all of these things, you can greatly improve the quality of your copy without spending a fortune — but always be careful when trying to use these tactics, because quality is a delicate thing. If you try to push your budget a little too far, you’ll see the standard plummet and your consistency ruined.

If you put a lot of time and thought into finding a delicate balance between overpaying and underfunding, you can hit the sweet spot of efficiently producing copy that converts, all with a tiny fraction of the budget of a big business. Good luck!

Patrick Foster is a writer and eCommerce expert from eCommerce Tips — a startup eCommerce blog that offers practical marketing advice so your online store receives the exposure it deserves. Check out the latest posts on Twitter @myecommercetips.