As a copywriter, I naturally have some strong feelings about the advice that other copywriting “experts” give their students.
One popular piece of advice that I have decidedly mixed feelings about, is the idea of doing “DIY” copywriting for your own products.
This is an idea you’ll run into in some of the more popular copywriting handbooks out there, and it is definitely an idea that a lot of internet marketers tend to come up with independently.
The theory behind this advice goes like this:
“As the owner of your business, you understand your products and services better than anyone else; therefore, you will be more able to accurately communicate the benefits of using them than anyone else who is just learning about your business.”
This idea was popularized by one of the world’s most successful copywriters, Dan Kennedy, in his best-selling book”The Ultimate Sales Letter.”
Although I’m a huge fan of Kennedy’s work (he is one of my own top influences), I don’t really like this advice in particular, for three basic reasons:
1. The Style Element.
No matter how well you understand your business, there are stylistic aspects to copywriting that you can’t learn overnight. These include:
- Writing style (engaging and conversational vs. dry and boring).
- Visual style (positioning of text, healines, bullet points, etc).
It takes a lot of practice to learn each of these elements; so, if you need copy now, it’s better to hire someone who knows them, than to try and “DIY.”
2. Some businesses are built around affiliate programs and/or resell rights.
Actually, I think that most people who get into internet marketing get started by taking on affiliate programs, promoting products that they themselves did not play any role in creating.
Now, of course, when you promote affiliate programs, you can always direct your customers to the main vendor’s download page, using their copy to drive your own profits. However, you are going to want website, blog, and e-mail copy to get people interested in the products you’re promoting. When running affiliate campaigns like these, you don’t have any information advantage or special insights into the benefits of your products; so, that’s not going to give you an edge in writing the copy.
3. Even when you’ve made a product yourself, you don’t necessarily know what aspects of it are going to appeal to people.
This is one thing that consistently amazes me when I interview clients who own their own businesses and products. So many times, they have an absolutely fantastic product that they just can’t sell, because they don’t know who the customer is. A great example of this is the Silicon Valley entrepreneur Paul Graham, who didn’t know that his startup was geared toward direct marketers, until well after he had created the main product.
A good copywriter knows how to identify the key benefits of your product that will appeal to consumers. This is something you may need help with, particularly if you’ve developed a product based on a business idea you read somewhere, rather than an industry you have lots of experience in.
Now, before I conclude, I must stresss one thing: this article is not meant to dissuade you from writing copy for your own products. If anything, I recommend that you give it a try, especially if you’re a good writer with sales experience. But remember that in many areas, the “DIY” approach comes with hidden costs, and copywriting is definitely one of these areas.