Why Copywriters Should Aim To Work With Small Businesses

July 31, 2020 •

As a freelance copywriter, you might usually have your sights set on big corporate clients, because it seems like a safe opportunity. However, working with a small business can sometimes offer a lot more benefits and opportunities to a copywriter. We take a look at the downside of working with large companies, and why copywriters should aim to work with small businesses.

Should copywriters work with big or small businesses?

One of the biggest advantages of working for a big company is going to be that they can definitely afford you. They’re likely to already have an in-house marketer or marketing team, plus a marketing budget, which means they can afford to hire freelancers. And there’s likely to be a lot of work for you.

However, a larger company can mean a lot more hassle. You won’t be working directly with the business owner, whoever you communicate with has to get a sign off from other people. Your quote, your pitch, and your finished copy are all going to take time to be approved, and because more than one person is involved this can lead to more editing and revisions.

Why should you work with a small business?

Work with lots of different clients

Working with small businesses, they might not have the same scale of copywriting requirements as large companies. But this does mean you can work with multiple businesses at the same time, without committing to full-time, long-term projects.

You can have a lot of variety in your workload, and you’ll have more flexibility to change things up when you want. It can also be beneficial to work with lots of clients in case one of the projects falls through or is put on hold, you always have something else to fall back on.

Make a visible difference

Small businesses are unlikely to have a big marketing department, they might not even have a full marketing plan. This means that copywriting for a small business gives you the opportunity to make a visible difference to their marketing efforts. At a large company, the copywriting that you do is likely to feed into larger projects. You’re unlikely to see the finished project, and even less likely to see the full results of your work.

With a small business, you’re more likely to be rewriting or updating a whole page, or even the whole site. And if they’re using a simple content management system, such as WordPress you’ll be able to suggest ideas, write them, and upload the finished copy to their site. They might even ask you to provide reports on how well the pages are doing once you’ve updated the copy.

More freedom over projects

With a small business, you’re likely to be working directly with the business owner, or someone who has decision-making authority within the business. Not only does this mean that the whole process of securing the client, submitting your ideas and then your copy will be quicker, but you’re going to have a lot more freedom over the project.

With a big company, they’ll likely have a very specific brief for the copy that they want, and it’s just part of a project. For example, they’ll have decided that they want to update the copy on a particular page and you’ll be given a clear brief, guidelines, and tone of voice.

But in a small business, you won’t be working to the same tight guidelines, and you’ll be able to make the project your own. You’ll have more of an opportunity to develop and drive the brand’s voice.

You can do more than copywriting

Most small businesses won’t have the copywriting skills or SEO knowledge to optimize their websites. In all likelihood, they won’t have done any meaningful development on them in the first place. It’s far more common (and practical) for small companies without in-house coders to turn to template-driven website designers — popular examples being the Divi Page Builder for WordPress sites and the Shopify store builder for ecommerce sites.

Companies that opt for generic site designs using such tools typically extend that approach to their on-site content, looking to get their sites live as soon as possible. This tends to leave them with solid foundations but mediocre copy and visuals, and that makes a certain amount of sense because they can always improve those things later. That’s where you come in.

Working with such a small business, you’ll be able to work on their key pages, product descriptions, about us pages, blog posts, and even social media posts. But more than the writing, you’ll be able to offer them advice on their overall marketing, and other areas of their copy that you can improve. By working with a small business you can expand your skills and experience as well as providing them with some great copy.

You may even have the opportunity to offer them advice on the layout and design of the website, to suit the copy that you’re writing, especially if they don’t have an in-house web designer.

More transparency over payments

As a freelancer knowing when and how much you’re going to be paid is crucial. In a larger company, they’ll have a finance or HR department that handles payments, and this can mean that it’s hard to get direct answers on when you’re going to be paid.

Working with a small business you’ll be able to speak directly with the person that’s going to be paying you. You can expect a lot more clarity about payments from small businesses and your fees don’t need to be signed off by multiple people or departments.

Build a relationship with the business

When you’re working closely with the decision-maker in a business it’s a lot easier to build a close relationship with them. If you’re making a real difference to their business and offering a great service, then they’re going to be loyal to you.

When you work for a larger business you’re likely to be one of several copywriters they use, depending on availability, and it’s hard to set yourself apart and develop a relationship. You could end up working closely with a small business for years, and they’ll likely recommend you to other businesses that they know.

Author

Rodney Laws is an ecommerce expert with over a decade of experience in building online businesses. Check out his reviews on EcommercePlatforms.io and you’ll find practical tips that you can use to build the best online store for your business. Connect with him on Twitter @EcomPlatformsio

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comment avatar
Branding Agency wrote on September 29th, 2020

Well there is always a perk working with Big Companies and small companies, most of them you have already listed and are very true. We try to work with the Big Agencies as the exposure and professionalism we get is very good. There is also a security that our work will be timely paid and long term business relationship builds trust.

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Glenn Murray wrote on October 29th, 2020

Yep, all very true. Except, for us, the payment thing. We've always found big companies take longer to pay and are quite happy to exceed even their own terms by weeks, if no months, if it suits them. :-\

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Storm McManus wrote on February 16th, 2021

I do love working with smaller businesses because you get to deliver real results for a real person. Sometimes it's harder to see these results when you're a cog in the wheel of a bigger company.

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