As a freelancer writer you see that a lot when displaying your wares on the virtual street corners of the internet. It makes my skin crawl a bit sometimes because it seems all too reminiscent of signs that used to be displayed outside of boarding houses in the 1950s UK. These signs made fairly explicit statements about anybody brown or Irish. On message forums you occasionally see irate comments about this being racist and unfair. Usually they’re badly spelt enough to strengthen the point of the advertiser. So, do you need to hire only ‘native speakers’ for your copywriting, or should you consider broadening your horizons?
Having a Laugh
Well, if you want me to write in Polish or French I’ll give it a go for you, but the results would be disastrous. I don’t speak a word of Polish and my French is laughable. For this reason I don’t attempt to take on jobs in languages that I don’t speak. But language is way messier than that. For example the US, Australia, Canada and the UK all boast English as their first language; but I’m hard pressed sometimes to cope with American-ese. The thousands of miles of icy cold Atlantic are not the only things that separate us.
Right Words, Wrong Place
The market you’re selling in should define the type and native-ness, or otherwise, of the copywriter you hire to produce your sales copy. While it’s true to say that many people from across the globe can speak English perfectly well, they cannot always get it in the right order when it comes writing it down. The problem with web copy is that your audience will spot a mistake, or even a “foreign” accent a mile off. It’s a bit like ringing a distant call centre. You can have a perfectly civil conversation with someone in Bangalore about your mobile bill – and I frequently do – but try having a bit of a laugh with them. I think one of them fainted once, or had a stroke in an effort to go ‘off-script’ with me.
Language and understanding are intrinsically linked; colloquialism and cultural understanding form an integral part of it. If your business is dealing with a specifically national market, whatever that nation is, it makes sense to work with writers who understand not only the language, but also the culture that you’re selling to.
Finding the Right Writer
There is a huge, highly competitive market out there. This is partly because a lot of people have been forced into working for themselves by the recession. It’s also because there is something of a belief that you can make a fortune working for yourself from the comfort of your own home. This attracts a lot of people who somehow manage to miss the word “working” when reading the phrase “working from home”. Additionally, ‘writing’ is often miss-perceived as being something anyone can do. There are some talented individuals amongst this market, but if you’re looking to hire a copywriter for the first time finding them may be harder than you think.
Copywriting agencies are usually the best place to start. An agency will normally have tried and tested its writers and know their strengths and weaknesses, along with their areas of expertise. Tone, style and technical abilities are all requirements that will differ depending on your product and your requirements. An agency will be able to match the writer that best fits your needs. The content on your site, your blog or your marketing materials needs to be provided by someone who speaks your language, or at least the language that your customers speak. While non-native speakers may offer great discounts there is a real danger that these low figures will also apply to your sales.
This is a guest post written by Chris Hoole. Searching for copywriting services has not been made easier than ever before by the internet. With a massive number or writers available, finding the right writer can be a fine art in itself.