258 UK Freelance Copywriter Homepages Examined (Including Yours?)


Phew. Curiosity has led to exhaustion.

I’ve been through 258 UK copywriter website homepages. Some fantastic sites out there. If you’re a UK freelance copywriter, then chances are you’re on this list.

Hidden face

Only 11% of Copywriters had a picture of themselves on the homepage (pic courtesy of cadfael1979)

But, my aim with this post isn’t to cast judgement on fellow copywriters – merely to offer an insight into:

  • The words copywriters use to sell themselves on their homepages
  • Where UK freelance copywriters are based
  • What info they choose to share on the homepage (e.g. Twitter links, testimonials etc.)
  • The gender split of UK copywriters

And a few other interesting stats.

How was the data gathered?

Copywriter sites were collated from Google, Freeindex, Dmoz and Twitter. Agencies (of more than a few people) were generally omitted.

The word “copywriter” was the defining search term. Results are a mix of advertising, direct marketing and general copywriters. Apologies if your site isn’t included – it may have slipped through the net! (N.B. Blogs with no static homepage were also left off the list.)

Let’s look at the total word counts…

Word counts ranged from the “fits on the back of a matchbox” to “barely fits on the side of a house”. (Navigation, copyright and T&C words weren’t included.) Here’s how it breaks down:

UK copywriter words

Seems like a fair average. Around 300 words should be enough for most copywriters to sell themselves. Some sites included a huge range of services. Many direct marketers opted for the classic long sales letter style (hence the highest count of over 4K words).

What information was shared on the homepage?



Copywriter stats

Predictably, blogs, client names and testimonials were a popular option. In fact, many of the sites I found easily via Google had blogs – backing up the accepted wisdom that blogging = good SEO.

Obviously, testimonial quotes and client names help establish credibility straight away (with a dash of social proof). Many of those sites that didn’t have quotes/clients on the homepage provided easy links to that info.

SEO copywriting was one of the most referenced secondary services/benefits (and sometimes the main focus of the site). Most DM and advertising copywriters didn’t mention it (what with the connotation of keyword-stilted language and all!)

Where do freelance copywriters live?

UK copywriter locations

So, London’s drowning in the buggers. But note the concentration of copywriters in and around creative cities like Brighton, Bristol, Edinburgh, Leeds and Manchester. Looks to me like there are a few places severely under-represented by word pedlars. (Where are all the Northern Ireland freelance copywriters?)

UK copywriter gender

(16 sites had indeterminate gender/location.)

The most popular words on a copywriter’s homepage

(All common English words removed.)

Words copywriter's use

Copywriter, copywriting and copy were the most-used words (closely followed by business and marketing). No surprises there.

Common words removed except personal pronouns (I, you, we etc.):

Copywriter's words

As all good copywriters know, business communications should be about the reader, not about the writer. Hence the prevalence of “you”.

That’s not to say that We and I didn’t make rather prominent appearances. As a side point, a lot of freelancers (including myself) struggle with the question of me or us – am I an I or am I a we?

Note:

Copywriters

How about with copywriting, copy and copywriter removed?

Copywriter's words

Lots of practical copywriting words here:

  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Business
  • Customers
  • Clients
  • Content

And finally…the most common descriptive words copywriters use for themselves

Persuasive copywriter words

So there we go. A glimpse into the world of the copywriter homepage. What do you make of these stats? If people are interested, I might look more in detail at popular calls to action, and perhaps even page title tags in a future post.

As you can probably gather, this post took hours and hours to put together! Please retweet, share or link (particularly if you’re one of the sites listed) and add a comment below. Thanks!


48 Comments

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  1. Great post, Paul. I think you’ve done us all a service with this – it’s a reminder to practise what we frequently preach, without forgetting the basics.

    Reply
  2. Hi there

    Not sure if my website was on your list as your map doesn’t reach down as far as the Channel Islands! Not a great concentration of us here but, being freelance, it (mostly) doesn’t matter where you live – and the CI definitely has its advantages.

    Really good post – thanks for going to all the effort – really interesting to know what the lot of us are like.

    Thanks again
    Tineke

    P.S. I can’t stand long sales pages that some copywriters write. Do people really read them? Really???

    Reply
  3. Paul

    RE: Howard.

    Thanks! Actually, a side-effect of writing this has been to take another look at my own site. I’ve always found it harder to write my own stuff. I plan to focus again on the basics, like you say!

    RE: Tineke

    If I’d found yours it would have been straight on the list. Great site!

    Absolutely agree that it doesn’t matter where you live. Probably 80% of my contracts involve never meeting the client face-to-face. Having said that, some of my best clients, and biggest projects, have involved regular meetings.

    lt’s interesting to me that there seems to be concentrated pockets of copywriters. That has its pros and cons if you’re in one of those pockets. More competition, yet more of a network. For example, here in Brighton I’m just starting to take advantage of the many writer meetups and networking events.

    Do you work with lots of Channel Island clients as well as the big brands you mention on your website?

    As for the long sales letters…you might enjoy this: http://youreapoorloser.com/

    Reply
  4. Brilliant idea. I will be using that distribution map to push tanks around on – and I’m sure others will be too.

    Some real surprises too. I would have thought there were slightly more female copywriters. Perhaps more of them are on Twitter, so I get that impression from there?

    A post on title tags, or even one on , and tags would be a bit of an eye-opener too. Maybe even one on how often those blogs get updated?

    Great post – thank you.

    Reply
  5. Really intriguing, Paul – thanks. As for Northern Ireland, I’ve done some work for a design agency in Belfast. If they’re flying writers in from south-east England, there’s clearly a dearth of wordsmiths over there.

    Any chance of revealing your list of homepages?

    Reply
  6. Paul

    RE: Ben

    Thanks for the comment. I was surprised about the gender split too. Not sure if it would hold up if more sites were added from different sources, but in terms of web prominence in Google etc, men seem to have the edge.

    Suspect there will be a title tag etc. follow up pretty soon. I’ve been pleased with how well this post has gone down!

    RE: Mike – you can find the list here:

    http://www.scribblemill.co.uk/uk-freelance-copywriter-list

    I figured that since it was all you copywriters that helped me put together the post, the least I owed you was a link!

    (Pretty sure your site is in that list…)

    Reply
  7. Sorry, Paul, missed the link in the post. Poor reading habits. Thanks for indulging my thickness.

    Reply
  8. PS: My new site, launching in a few days, will affect your stats ever so slightly… (no pic, but a Twitter, blog and testimonial feeds will all be on the homepage).

    Reply
  9. Paul

    No probs ;)

    It’s probably my almost-invisible, nightmare-for-usability, light green links on bright white background that caused the problem!

    Oh – and I’ll keep an eye out for your new site…

    Reply
  10. 258 freelance copywriters. Wow; enough to form an association.

    OK guys, and girls, send your £750 annaul subscription to The AFC to ME, today, and I’ll send you a membership certificate by return.

    ……from Barbados.

    Reply
  11. Paul

    Perhaps we could unionise, strike – then force Gordon Brown to explain the ensuing word shortage…

    Reply
  12. This is a fascinating post! As I read, I found myself anxiously hoping that I conformed to the average and hadn’t gone out on a limb – a ludicrous stance, since differentiation is surely the aim.

    I’d always noticed how many copywriters there seemed to be in Brighton, so it’s good to have that empirically confirmed.

    I was interested in the ‘photo on homepage’ stat. I’ve never considered this – because I position myself as a company, for better or worse. If anyone’s interested in the ‘I or we’ debate, here’s a post I wrote on the subject:

    http://www.abccopywriting.com/blog/2009/11/23/i-or-we/

    Reply
  13. I really enjoyed this post, great presentation of the stats, too. Popular calls to action would be an interesting one.

    Reply
  14. Wow, that’s really interesting. Brilliant post.

    I’m just wondering how easy it would be to relocate to Belfast…..

    Reply
  15. Well, hello from Brighton.

    Super interesting post. Perhaps I should up sticks to N.Ireland?

    Reply
  16. Thank you for undertaking this monster task.

    I actually entered the text of about 12 copywriter homepages into Wordle a few weeks ago to see what picture it made, but did not have the patience to take it any further, so well done you. I shall re-tweet as a thank you, a small but sincere one.

    Reply
  17. A great effort and pleased to see myself on your list Paul. For your next project (I’m only joking), it would be interesting to know how many specialise in recruitment advertising & communications, only in my experience a lot of what I would call ‘product’ writers, don’t like dabbling in that field, whereas I was brought up in it in various guises. :)

    Reply
  18. Sadly, my website http://www.writecombination.com is not included in your list.

    I don’t advise rushing to look at it right now – I’ve just changed hosting provider and I’m creating a new site over the next few days. The current offering is very empty compared with my old site.

    Reply
  19. Paul

    RE: Tom
    Thanks for the comment, Tom.

    There does seem to be a concentration of copywriters here (I’m Brighton-based myself).

    It could be that nobody here wants to get a “proper job” ;)

    The post you link to sums up exactly the concerns (worries) I’ve had about the whole I vs We issue. Glad to hear I’m not the only one who struggles with the choice!

    RE: Rowena

    Thanks! I think I’ll add a follow up next week with calls to action + page titles. It’s been fun!

    RE: Nick and Relly

    Thanks for the comments – glad you enjoyed the post!

    (P.S. I’ve already booked my flight…)

    RE: Alasdair

    I think you might even find yourself in a niche of one – I’d keep that quiet lest us opportunistic copywriters flood into the market ;)

    RE: Andrew

    Apologies. I’ve already been pointed to a few sites that I missed. I think when I got up to 250 I figured it was time to wind down…

    Reply
  20. Paul

    RE: Angela

    Glad you liked it – and thanks for the comment and RT! I guess I’m the only one sad enough to copy+paste almost 80,000 words of copy!

    Reply
  21. Great post Paul, given me plenty of food for thought.

    It’s always difficult to write your own stuff. It seems to be almost physically impossible to switch off and just write for yourself as you would for any other client. Or perhaps it’s just me.

    I also think the Association of Freelance Copywriters is a great idea! Let’s do it, monopolise the market and set rates exorbitantly high. Anyone trying to muscle in would get an offer they couldn’t refuse.

    Reply
  22. Re the Association of Freelance Copywriters, will there be a knock down rate for Copify? :) (I’ll get my coat)

    Reply
  23. Paul

    Thanks Jamie! (And agree about finding it harder to write your own stuff.)

    Reply
  24. Paul – firstly, my earlier post comment didn’t thank you for all the work you’ve put into this interesting and valuable resource. So here it is: thank you!

    Secondly – for myself the ‘I’ and ‘we’ debate is continual and made more complex by the fact that my wife does a lot of my proofreading and is my bookkeeper.

    Thirdly – the Association comment might have been flippant but it would be great to meet with other freelancers and membership could help customers separate us from Mr $1.50 article writer.

    Finally – thank you again for this and for the introduction it gave to your blog.

    Reply
  25. Paul

    Ah, to have a reliable proofreader! Kind Twitter friends have already discreetly pointed out a couple of simple errors in this very post!

    Thanks for the kind words, Andrew. Much appreciated.

    Reply
  26. My God, that’s a labour of love – or indicative of a tendency towards OCD. Or maybe it’s just one more way to pass time when the phone goes quiet. I’m most impressed that you resisted the temptation to take a view on good and bad or right and wrong.

    I think this tells us that we’re all much the same. Or, more to the point, that we’re all after the same business and using the same techniques to win it. If it were possible to repeat the exercise in an offline environment, would you find more variation? I think so. When we’re free from the tyranny of search engines, we probably put a lot more individuality into our writing.

    Good stuff. Well done.

    Reply
  27. Paul

    @Chas

    Probably an unholy combination of all three.

    Thanks for the comment – glad you enjoyed the post!

    Reply
  28. Thanks very much for adding me to your list. I only discovered it as I had an enquiry via a back link from your site!! Thanks again and keep up the good work for copywriters everywhere (especially in Brighton where the competition is so abundant!)

    Reply
  29. Paul

    No problem, Zoe!

    There are plenty of copywriters round here, but then – there are plenty of companies that need quality copy.

    I’ll be adding a follow-up post in the next day or so about copywriters and SEO. Keep an eye out…

    Reply
  30. At last, at last my secret is out. I am the lone Northern Irish copywriter. Plant a red dot mid-way between Belfast and Dublin that’s where I am.
    Great post and obviously I hate the idea of local companies flying in copywriters. This must be time to up my profile
    regards
    Brian

    Reply
  31. Hiya Paul

    Thanks for your kind comments about my site

    Brian – don’t worry, I am based in the Channel Islands and I can almost guarantee there are fewer of us here than in NI.

    Paul – just condensed your post on my site (obviously with links back to yours). Commentary (and kudos) really.

    Great post. It’s amazing how many people come and check out your site when you do something for free, that’s genuinely interesting and targeted. It’s almost Godin-like!

    Nice work – will be back to read more of your posts.

    Regards
    Tin

    Reply
  32. Paul

    Godin-like. Now there’s a compliment ;)

    Thanks very much for the kind words and the link, Tin. Very much appreciated. And again, I’m glad that a lot of people seemed to have enjoyed this post.

    Reply
  33. Hello All,
    fascinating article – and Mr McArdle, you are not alone! There are a few of us freelancing in NI but, funnily enough, most of my clients are in the rest of the UK! So I’m guessing location is becoming less important as the technology continues to evolve. I get to work inhouse locally, and I get to pick up jobs at home. So, while you’re all most welcome to visit, it’s be nice to see you all go back home again – get your clients to come to you instead! ;-)

    Reply
  34. Hi Paul,

    This is really a nice and informative post about copywriter. This is all about copywriting that makes copywriting an important fact of internet. This is real fact that copywriting has become an important factor of online marketing.

    Cheers to all!!

    Reply
  35. Wow! This is really great. You have provided such a important information. This again proves that copywriting is a very essential factor for online marketing. We got the power to change the direction of any business on internet. Cheers to copywriters.

    Reply
  36. Hi Paul,

    I’ve only just seen this post and really enjoyed it. Nicely written and lovely graphics too. Thanks for including my site, I’ll put a link on there as soon as I finish working for other people and get a chance do something of my own…

    Cheers,

    andy

    Reply
  37. Great article! The Northern Irish gap is glaring though.

    I/We are based in Northern Ireland, if you ever build up enough willpower for an update!

    You can find me/us here: http://www.vozmedia.co.uk

    Cheers,

    Rob

    Reply
  38. another great effort Paul, I might try this for our Australian market – that’ll be interesting. Funny enough I was playing with advanced Google search syntax when I found your site. website copywriting intitle: online +”UK”
    How did you collate the data in the first place?? What tools did you use. Reason I ask is I’d like to do this for other markets. Cheers.

    Reply
  39. Paul

    Thanks Laurence, Lou, Andy, Rob and John!

    @ John

    Gruntwork to be honest ;)

    I didn’t use any fancy APIs or clever tools to collate and analyse the data. If only I had. Instead, I simply found the sites by the means mentioned above, took all of the copy from each page and collated every site into a single document. That allowed me to easily check averages for wordcounts etc. It also made it easy to ctrl+F to count instances of individuals words etc. Sites like Wordle.net automatically create visualisations of the data.

    Everything else was just time spent with a calculator or chartmaker.

    Sorry I can’t offer any easier way than that! I’m sure someone with a more technical mind could point you to a way that takes a 10th of the time…

    Cheers,

    Paul

    Reply
  40. Guess what, I’m a copywriter from Northern Ireland… and I haven’t met another freelancer here yet. We are rare (to find that is). Great to see so many other copywriters out there.
    I’ve spoken to so many web designers who talk about SEO for their clients but amazingly they leave content copywriting to the client or chuck in some generalised drivel as an after-thought.. This is a huge opportunity for all of us. Google says content is the most important element of SEO. Lets make sure our clients know this, and be confident because we can help almost every business out there… we just have to use our own skills to promote ourselves.
    Cheers
    Sean

    Reply
  41. Cor that’s a labour of love. But it’s great to see some insightful information about copywriters, maybe it’ll be the start of drawing our little community closer?

    Reply
  42. I’m a new starter here, and have set myself the task of writing a profile today. This not only helped, but it made me smile! Thank you. Now back to the profile…

    Reply
  43. Just stumbled on this post while searching… I was thinking about moving to Brighton until I saw your map. Seriously! Having second thoughts now. Might just stay in Leeds. Quite a few of us copywriters up here in Yorkshire by the look of it but it still isn’t like the visual nosebleed down south.

    Reply
  44. Wow that’s an awesome piece of research. Maybe you should start doing it for websites in all industries? Now that would be a decent resource!

    Nice job! :)

    Reply
  45. I’m a copywriter in Northern Ireland, too. My website ( http://oinkcopy.com ) only arrived this year so it didn’t exist when this research was done.

    Surprised to hear Lou Rooney say most of her clients are from mainland UK, most of mine are from this side of the water. Anyway, keep up the good work!

    Reply

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