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“The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife. You insult her intelligence if you assume that a mere slogan and a few vapid adjectives will persuade her to buy anything.” —David Ogilvy

One could argue that an effective writer is always a good writer in some way, but a good writer isn’t always an effective writer. The amount of fluff-filled clickbait online is proof. I’ve always been a writer, but have I always been a good writer? Probably not. Have I always been an effective writer? Definitely not. A good writer is like a pretty face without an opinion: they can make words look and sound good without really saying anything. They throw in a bunch of fancy adjectives, and with our ~8 second attention spans these days, that’s all it really takes to make us think something is well-written. But when you’re starting a business and want to engage and retain a loyal audience, you need more than pretty words that mean absolutely nothing–you need substance.

The number of Millennials increasingly choosing to work for themselves or start their own business is steadily increasing, and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon. Though I’m a little biased, I really believe one of the most valuable investments your startup can make is in a great copywriter. You could spend hundreds of dollars on marketing, you could grow your social media following to hundreds of thousands by posting nice pictures and quoting famous people, but without strong, effective copy, none of those tactics will translate to a loyal, engaged customer-base, and a subsequently high ROI.

When looking for an effective copywriter for your startup, look for someone who…

… knows how to tailor your content to your target audience. A great copywriter will take the time to understand your product or service, learn what makes your business unique from your competition, and develop a solid idea of who your customer is. Copywriting is not a one-size-fits-all formula but rather a bespoke one that brings together every facet of your brand in order to create a unique formula tailored to your you.

… has a way with words. Personally I think poorly written but accurate copy is actually more effective than a well-written but ambiguous blurb that sounds nice but doesn’t really tell your customer anything. A great copywriter, however, will accurately translate your message in a way that also sounds good.

… knows where to add SEO and industry-specific keywords. There’s a time to use SEO and there’s a time to hold off. Do you ever read a company website or blog post (or even a simple Instagram post) and feel like you’re reading a bad advertisement that’s blatantly trying to sell you something? It’s a huge turnoff and an insult to your audience when your content is littered with trendy buzzwords. A great copywriter won’t just throw around keywords to drive traffic–they’ll know where to strategically add traffic-generating words in a way that’s both beneficial for your company and informative for your customer.

Anyone can claim to be a good writer, so I think the most important thing to look for in a copywriter is positive feedback from their previous clients. Your startup will never not need effective copy, whether it’s on your website, your social media pages, your marketing material, or content for your blog, so keeping the above qualities in mind, and finding a copywriter you can trust to effectively translate your brand image in your copy is essential to your startup’s success.

About the Guest Author
StephanieSteph Cervone is a Toronto-based freelance copywriter and editor with clients in both Canada and the U.S. She helps startups and small businesses find their unique voice and effectively and consistently translate their brand image into their written content. A graduate of UofT’s linguistics and French linguistics program, and an avid reader of etymology dictionaries, she is passionate about all things language-related. You can see her work at


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