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Reinventing Myself

need help with market research

     
3:11 pm on Sep 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I have been doing Web design/development for the past two years, but have decided that I want to get back to my core strength, which is writing. I am in the process of redefining my business to be Web Content Development and Web Copywriting rather than overall Web site design and development.

My question to you, fellow Webmasters, is: would you be in the market for these services? When you develop a Web site for a client, do you do the writing, have your client supply the copy, or hire a copywriter to do it?

I am thinking of targeting local Web design firms as a market for my services. Do you think this would work?

Thank you for your input.

3:46 pm on Sept 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

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It's not impossible to find this kind of work, but unless you are in a major market it might be kind of tough to develop a client base.

The problems I see:
1. Many web firms write needed copy in-house (and it shows! ;))
2. Commonly, copy for web sites is ported over from other advertising and marketing materials with minimal tweaking. Ditto for technical shovelware content.
3. Because many people learned to read and write at some point, they believe they are capable of writing great copy and are reluctant to hire outside expertise. (Related to #1)

Ad agencies sometimes use outside copy writers. Documentation writing is also a common need. If I were considering this move, I'd probably go down the list of web design firms (and perhaps major site owners) in your locale and see what their needs are. There's no reason for you to limit yourself to the local market, of course, but that would be a good starting point. Good luck!

3:51 pm on Sept 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Not to mention that right now the market is so tight that it's hard to have a specialty like this and make money.

Good luck, though, if that's what you want to do.

My father always said, "Do what you love, the money will follow." Might follow after you're dead, but it'll still follow, right?

3:54 pm on Sept 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

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We have two dedicated copy writers here both full time so there is a demand out there.

Search engine friendly content would be something that might give you that little edge?

9:46 pm on Sept 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Dino_M is right. Writing search engine friendly content would be a great USP.
2:34 am on Sept 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I think you should consider targeting Web Design entities with an eye towards a complementary interaction between the Web Designers' customers and the Web Designer. Web Design sole proprietors may have more need for your services than firms, IMHO.

Think about it. Customers go looking for a Web Designer because everyone tells them they need a presence on the web if they want to be successful or global or whatever. The Designer relates to them s/he'll generate such-and-such many pages, plus this and that and so on but the customers themselves need to supply the art, the copy, the contact info, yadda yadda. Now the customers are used to dealing with written advertisements unlike the Web and, although they will try, it may be that their copy just isn't appropriate or ideal enough to optimize its success online. The Designer has his/her hands full doing the coding and layout, maybe they don't have the time to edit copy. Having a go between who is a professional writer and also web design savvy would speed things along for both parties.

Anyway, it's a thought.

3:46 am on Sept 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I know one freelance copy writer who is writing Software Manuals, translating technicalese to english, the occasional kung fu flick, a job recruiter web site; in short, whatever she can get her hands on.

It's a scramble... but that's freelance for ya.

6:25 am on Sept 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Check out the email list for a group called SFWoW (San Francisco Women of the Web) for lots of information on the job market in the Bay Area, and possibly other major cities, for web site writers. You can find it through Google. SFWoW is a very active non-profit group with Yahoo group list with 1,000 - 2,000 members.

I have not subscribed to the list for awhile, but the last time I was on it there seemed to be quite a few web site content writers and managers who were having trouble finding work.

7:39 am on Sept 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

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BTW,
I, and my clients, write our own content. Don't expect much work from webmasters. Go directly to the source.
8:56 am on Sept 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Taisurensu, writing nice ad copy is always a strugle to me, as my native language is lithuanian. You may have some market in non-english countries. We are seriously thinking about hiring someone for press releases etc. Knowledge of what Google likes would be a bonus :)
2:59 pm on Sept 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Thank you all for your input.

Dino_M and Sanity: I definitely plan to offer search engine friendly content as a specialty

rogerd and gcross: Working with small design firms is exactly what I was thinking. As I've found in the sites I have developed, I tend to focus on my stregnth, which is writing content, and don't spend enough time and energy on the design and layout. I would like to work with someone who can make the design look really professional while I focus on the information architecture and writing the copy.

martinitbuster: I've been a technical writer for 20 years and worked as an onsite contractor for eight. My goal is to be a home-based writer (I got tired of commuting to corporate offices), so I am looking for avenues that will allow me to do that. My original plan was to do Web development while I worked on my novel (what writer isn't working on a novel?), but have decided that it would make more sense to just focus on writing. I just don't want to let all this hard-won Web experience go to waste.

rytis: Thank you, I hadn't thought of the non-english market. Please sticky mail me if you'd like my help.

11:36 pm on Sept 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Good luck taisurensu!

I'll be interested to hear how you go.