Running an eCommerce business often means wearing multiple hats. You could be juggling everything from product sourcing to listing, and marketing to support. But as your business grows, you’ll naturally need to look for outside help to keep everything running smoothly.
One of the first responsibilities you should consider offloading is writing. Not only is writing a highly technical and creative task, but it also plays a huge role in eCommerce. Writing has a major impact throughout the entire customer journey, from the moment buyers discover your products to when they receive your post-purchase emails enticing them to continue to shop.
Hiring a freelance eCommerce writer is often a sound investment and can pay big dividends.
Why you should outsource your writing
If you’re still on the fence about whether or not to outsource your writing, consider the following benefits of hiring a professional writer.
Improve your branding
The strongest brands have a consistent (and distinct) message and voice. But finding that voice can be difficult when you’re leaning on yourself or multiple team members to finish writing tasks.
Freelance writers, on the other hand, have experience writing for various brands and adapting their work to your business. They’re masters of writing coherent, punchy copy, and know how to represent your brand clearly and powerfully, even when they’re up against a tight word count.
Save time and move faster
Think about the last time you wrote a 1,000+ word paper. How long did it take? Your answer probably ranges anywhere between several hours to several days (remember being in school and taking weeks to finish one paper?).
Now, think about the amount of content you need to produce for your business, including webpages, product listings, emails, and blogs. Needless to say, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and fall behind. A freelance writer who’s worth their salt can complete the work in less time, while still delivering high-quality results.
Convert more visitors into sales
Ultimately, the role of a freelancer writer is to help your business land more sales. Strong, expertly crafted copy plays a direct role in this; by clearly expressing the benefits of your products, your communications can convince buyers they need your product.
Even after making a sale, your business will leverage content to nurture long-lasting customer relationships. Think: re-engagement emails, ads, and special promotions. The best freelancers are versatile and can help you optimize each of those interactions.
Get an expert opinion
Don’t forget that freelance writers — especially ones who specialize in eCommerce — are experts in their own right. They often possess years of experience working with brands across multiple industries and engaging in various types of projects.
Freelance writers can serve as a useful sounding board when you’re not sure how to deliver your message. Some may even have experience in related fields, like SEO, event coordination, and marketing strategy, and may be able to guide your strategies.
Faster, more flexible hiring
One obvious perk of contracting with a freelancer is that you don’t have to go through the process of hiring a full-time employee. You also don’t have to constantly manage and supply work for them.
Instead, you can hire freelancers on an as-need basis, whether for certain projects or a specified period of time. You also have the opportunity to expand contracts as needed rather than having to pay a certain salary from the get-go.
What to consider when hiring an eCommerce freelancer
Once you’ve established your need for a freelancer, you’ll need to build criteria to determine the right candidate. This may be the trickiest part of outsourcing work: finding the perfect freelancer for your business. Here are some factors to consider.
Check out a freelancer’s past work, which can often be found on their websites, LinkedIn, or upon request. See if they’ve worked for brands like yours and what types of projects they’ve participated in. It’s best to find someone with a diverse portfolio of work within your industry, unless you have a very specific writing task you want them to focus on.
Keep in mind there’s a difference between copywriters and content writers, though, on occasion, you’ll find someone who excels at both.
Copywriters specialize in shorter, persuasive writing, typically for ads or webpages. By contrast, content writers focus on longer, educational writing, and are in high demand among companies that maintain blogs or video strategies.
Copywriters may struggle to do the work of content writers, and vice versa.
When freelancers set their rates, there are multiple factors that determine the final number. Rates can vary dramatically depending on your freelancer’s level of experience. Niche writers are usually much pricier than generalists or those just starting out.
You may want to give both a shot to see who best meets your criteria. In general, rates can be based on hours, retainers, word count, value, or project type.
Freelancers likely work on multiple projects for multiple clients simultaneously. Some may be available to help you week after week, while others only have enough bandwidth to handle one or two projects for you. Make sure to chat with your writers about their availability, and to establish expectations early and often to avoid confusion.
How a freelance writer can add value to your eCommerce business
Writers need to create content for different angles and drive value across channels. In eCommerce, there are a few key functions of content that a freelance writer should be able to handle to boost your sales and establish your brand.
1) Understand your audience
Most eCommerce writers have to understand, use, and sometimes gather market research on your audience and industry.
Your organization may have its own researchers to find and confirm marketing data. Or, you might have a single communication professional to fill both roles.
In the latter scenario, a freelance writer will have to find:
- Demographics of your target audience
- Pain points to identify the ideal sales pitch
- Audience behavior to find the most effective communication channels
- Search behavior to see how and where customers discover you
- Buyer behavior to identify the purchase driver
- Customer needs and values
- Important keywords for SEO and PPC ads
Your eCommerce writer should know how to find and use the information above to craft copy accordingly.
Tip: Run A/B tests to optimize on-page content, funnels, and CTAs.
2) Write product copy that converts
Compelling product copy draws shoppers to your listings and websites. It describes and highlights your items on your own website, marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, Wish, and Walmart.com, and many other eCommerce sites.
Product copy needs to be written for search engines, marketplace listing SEO, and potential customers. To do this well, eCommerce writers must:
Understand and implement listing best practices across every channel you sell on. There are no “one-size-fits-all” product descriptions. You need custom content for each channel your eCommerce store sells on.
For example, Amazon uses significantly different guidelines than eBay or Etsy. Walmart Marketplace has enhanced content options to help listings stand out. Understanding how each works and how to make the most of marketplace search engines on them is crucial to ensure customers find products.
Create compelling product listings that can be used in ads. Many eCommerce advertising options use the listing itself, which means your listing must have titles, descriptions, and captions that entice click-throughs.
To write listings that convert, an eCommerce copywriter must understand the target audience, their pain points, needs, and what drives them. The full listing itself should both describe the product accurately, and sell it as a solution.
Tip: Use A/B testing to update and tweak your listing content over time to improve results.
Write succinct copy that quickly and clearly informs your shoppers about your product. A good writer can condense a topic into a few quick bullet points so shoppers get the highlights at a glance.
Remember, your audience, like yourself, is time-poor. With the short attention span of modern consumers, you need to capture interest as quickly as possible.
Know how your SKU catalog works and include the relevant specifications. Your writers should understand what makes your SKUs special, including how they work, what to highlight, and which selling points are most powerful for which audience.
Many eCommerce writers have to write about multiple items they haven’t seen or used themselves. Think about the eCommerce stores with thousands of products that all need good copy.
Product copy is one of the most prominent pieces of content in eCommerce. However, depending on a writer’s role and expertise, they can do so much more.
3) Improve your funnel
When you have your own D2C website, there are multiple touchpoints in your sales funnel where conversion marketing comes into play. A simple buyer funnel looks like this:
- Top of funnel — This is where your buyer first discovers you. Channels can be SEO, ads, or referrals. For example, someone can discover your blog through SEO and be introduced to your brand through it.
- Mid-funnel/nurture — When you’ve already made contact, but someone isn’t ready to buy yet. For example, someone reads a blog post, then signs up for your newsletter. In this case, your emails would be mid-funnel, as they’re trying to nurture them to become customers. Another example of a mid-funnel channel is a landing page from an ad. The ad is top-of-funnel, and the landing page is mid-funnel, trying to get someone to convert.
- Conversion — This is the “aha” moment that everything works toward. Depending on your funnel, this could be different events, but in eCommerce, it’s usually a purchase.
Conversion marketing drives someone through the different stages of your funnel all the way to purchase. You’ll use it whether you sell items for a few dollars, or a few thousand dollars.
The idea is to build a process of transforming a visitor into a customer, a customer into a repeat customer, and so on. Conversion marketing normally relies on behavioral research, which should be ongoing. Ideally, writers would be involved with this research.
Overall, conversion marketing requires your writer to understand what your customers need to know to make a decision, what influences that decision, and what’s important to your customer.
Tip: Pay attention to the type of product you’re selling. If you’re a shoe store, your writer should tap into impulse purchases and try to raise the value of the shopping cart with add-ons. If you sell a higher-value item like custom windows, you should build a slow sales funnel that thoroughly informs the customer first and sells to them second.
Content marketing comes into play across your conversion funnels, so more on that below.
4) Build your own website
If you don’t already have a direct-to-consumer channel, it’s time to create one. An eCommerce website gives you direct access to your shoppers, and can showcase your products and solutions in their best light.
Pros of having your own website
- You get direct access to your customers, which means you can use their contact information to build a relationship. This is vital for remarketing, requesting reviews, and more. Many marketplaces forbid sellers from reaching out to customers with marketing information, or getting their direct contact information in the first place.
- You can highlight promotions across your website, and have no limits on what you can offer. For example, you can use your website banner to promote a sale or free two-day delivery. You can also add more marketing opportunities like email capture fields and sign-up forms to download a catalog.
- Marketplaces often show competing products alongside each other to give shoppers more choice. On your website, shoppers only see your products, so there’s no risk of them clicking away to a competitor instead. You control what your shoppers see (and that includes highlighting great reviews).
- Having your own website can be cheaper than listing on a marketplace, since you don’t have to pay marketplace fees.
However, having your own website also means building and maintaining pages of content that must convert (in addition to product pages). Here is where a freelance writer comes into play, and helps get your website off the ground.
Whether optimizing your homepage, product listings, category pages, or thank you pages, you must achieve a certain click-through or purchase rate, and improve continuously.
5) Optimize your marketplace listings
Your freelancer should be able to jazz up your content, be it on your site or on a marketplace. More specifically, they should be able strike the balance between SEO best practices and compelling copy on all your sales channels, understanding that each has a unique ranking algorithm.
Pros of listing on a marketplace
- On popular marketplaces, you establish a presence everywhere consumers are likely to shop. This also makes shoppers more likely to see you, activating the mere exposure effect.
- Many tools/software can help you recreate a listing on other marketplaces. This makes it more efficient to list on multiple marketplaces without consuming too much time.
- Marketplaces like Walmart and Amazon invest in their own ads and promotions, which allows you to piggyback off their efforts to get some free marketing.
- With such high volume and traffic, you have the potential to gather a large number of reviews in a short time. Social proof contributes to boosting sales, but this is a double-edged sword, because the reviews can go either way.
Tip: You should have both a D2C website and marketplace presence.
6) Create valuable resources for your audience
Content marketing is excellent for customer acquisition and retention, especially when you have your own website. In essence, it helps you reach your target audience by creating content that’s valuable to them.
When you run your own website on Shopify, BigCommerce, WordPress, or another platform, you should incorporate content marketing into your blog. eCommerce stores can blog to highlight new products, showcase customer reviews, answer customer questions, and optimize for keywords.
Writers need to balance serving the readers’ needs with answering their questions, selling products, and signaling high-quality content to search engines so you rank well. An effective blog will convince and convert readers to purchase.
Resources and downloadables
A common content marketing tactic is to produce resources like ebooks, infographics, and whitepapers to drive more value for readers.
Look for ways to repurpose your content to extend your efforts. For example, turn a blog into a video script for an animated video. If you write often about a particular topic, combine and edit all your blogs on that topic into a comprehensive ebook. Turn a customer survey into an infographic filled with original data.
Here are a few ways to use these resources:
- Offer an ebook as a gift for signing up for your email newsletter.
- Create an embeddable infographic for an adjacent company’s blog, in exchange for a backlink to your website.
- Provide a whitepaper exclusive to current customers to reward loyalty and encourage them to come back and shop with you.
7) Expand your reach
There are a variety of ways to get your brand in front of a bigger audience, including SEO tactics (like link building) and community-building tactics (like social media). Both can help boost your brand authority for search engines and consumers.
Many eCommerce stores invest in some form of link building to expand their reach and acquire customers. This often translates to guest posting with relevant websites that serve similar target audiences.
A freelance eCommerce writer can take charge of your link building efforts, implementing a guest post exchange program to reach more potential customers.
For example, if you run an eCommerce repricer that automatically adjusts product prices based on what competitors charge, you should pitch a guest post exchange with listing tools that re-list products across multiple marketplaces.
Organic social media
Social media is a free marketing channel that every brand should utilize. However, social media marketing only works when you consistently engage with consumers through interesting, original content.
A freelancer can experiment with different social channels, copy, and creatives. They can take your existing assets, such as your blogs and videos, and repurpose them for social media, coupling them with strong, inviting copy.
All the while, freelancers should represent your brand accurately through proper tone and voice.
8) Improve your advertising ROI
When buyers click on your ads, they expect to see content that’s highly relevant to their search query. Without tightly aligned copy, you risk losing a sale — or worse, leaving a bad impression on potential buyers.
Landing pages focus your visitors on a specific goal. They could be as short as a product page, or as long as a one-page website.
This is typically the first place someone lands after clicking on an ad, and most landing pages usually only have one primary CTA. Many landing pages don’t even include a website menu, so as not to distract visitors from the goal.
The best landing pages are customized for a particular audience segment, and speak directly to their unique values and/or challenges. For instance, if you sell a dog bed, you could create a landing page specifically for people who own large dogs. You could highlight how the bed comes in a large size, and is made from durable fabric that can endure chewing or continuous usage.
A professional writer can outline, research, and write unique copy for custom landing pages. S/he should ensure the transition from the ad to the product page is smooth and optimized for more clicks, whether you advertise on a marketplace, social media, or search engine.
9) Master your email marketing
Every email interaction is an opportunity to build trust with your customer. Through a strong email strategy backed by professionally written copy, you can increase customer lifetime value (CLV) and conversion rates.
Order confirmations, thank you emails, and other transactional messages have some of the highest open rates, for obvious reasons: people want to know the status of their purchases.
Although you need to be careful not to violate any email rules and regulations (especially as it relates to transactional emails that people can’t unsubscribe from), you want your correspondence to reinforce your branding.
A freelance writer can inform buyers of their purchases in a tailored, memorable way. They can incorporate slogans (“Your order is taking flight!”) and warm up copy, while providing clear instructions for handling aspects like returns and order-related questions.
Even little actions like this can impact your customer’s view of your brand. Don’t overlook the power of well-crafted copy on emails that aren’t necessarily related to your marketing efforts.
eCommerce writers for D2C stores likely have access to an owned email list, unlike on marketplaces (where sellers are often forbidden from emailing buyers with marketing materials). This means you’ll need to learn how to craft a nurture campaign to get someone from interest to purchase.
You may also need abandoned cart emails, new product announcements, and upsell campaigns meant to turn buyers into repeat customers.
Wrapping up – Key functions of a freelance eCommerce writer
Strong eCommerce copy is informative and value driven. You have to build trust to drive long-term relationships. While your copy should function for both sales and driving value, no amount of sales-only copy is enough to retain customers over the long run.
Leverage an eCommerce writer to take on numerous functions and operate in marketing, sales, and communication. Depending on the size of your business, they might also be responsible for marketing research, direct outreach, and long-term content testing and management.
Published: December 28, 2020
Updated: August 16, 2021