In this latest My Side of the Dot Q&A, Michael Marlin, Jr., founder and copywriter-in-chief of Copy Army, discusses the importance of quality, human-produced content.
Can you describe the genesis of Copy Army?
We launched Copy Army in 2006, branding ourselves as a small army of copywriters located throughout the United States. We help businesses [that] need great marketing copy and prefer working with a partner that’s more dependable and skilled than your average freelancer. That’s where our army comes in. Almost every business has a need for marketing copy throughout the year, especially today when content is king. But many small businesses don’t have the resources to hire a full-time copywriter–or, they have a writing staff, but need help with overflow work or simply a fresh voice for special projects. We support these businesses, as well as those who use Copy Army as a year-round extension of their marketing and creative departments. We write everything. Blogs, product copy, landing pages, corporate materials, print ads–you name it, we write it.
Who came up with the company name? What was the inspiration?
I came up with the name. (I am the founder and Copywriter-in-Chief.) When we launched in 2006, there weren’t many copywriting service providers online. The only option for most companies was to search for individual freelancers. That can be a frustrating and time-consuming process. We wanted a name that would immediately express the idea that we were more than a single freelancer. It had to be short and easy to remember. After considering several options, we settled on Copy Army to position ourselves as a small army of copywriters.
Writers and the military are an interesting pairing. What motivated you to invoke the army so thoroughly in your branding?
Visually, there are many things you can do to capture the idea of an “army” in your branding. But for us, it was mostly a matter of word choice. (Word choice is everything to us!) “Army” is perfect, because it immediately brings to mind several concepts that describe our business: skilled, well trained, powerful, strength in numbers, capable of making an impact. We wanted to express these ideas without necessarily having to say them.
How many writers does your army command? How do you recruit them?
Currently, we have about 10-15 core writers that handle our clients’ copywriting needs. Think of us as Special Forces, rather than a bloated military. We’re constantly looking for new writers, and we invite freelancers to apply through our website. Typically, when we find someone with the experience and skills we’re looking for, we give them a trial project. If all goes well, we increase their workload over time and they become more integrated into our operations.
What are some of the services these writers perform?
We write virtually everything that falls under the umbrella of advertising and content marketing. The biggest demands these days are optimized web content, blogs, and informational articles. Retail product copy is another big one, which makes up about 50% of our total business. But again, we write everything: brochures, direct mail, pay-per-click ads, press releases, and so on.
What is your geographic range?
Most of our clients are based in the United States, but we serve businesses everywhere. Over the last couple years, we’ve written for companies in Canada, Chile, Russia, and Japan.
What percentage of your business comes through your website?
Roughly 80% of our business comes through our website, either organically or through occasional paid search efforts. The other 20% is by word of mouth–our clients are very generous in referring new business to us!
Why writing? In an era when everything’s going hyper technological, writing seems like such a simple, basic skill. To build a business around that is bold.
There will always be a need for talented writers. Copywriting is the one area that can’t be generated by algorithms and computers (although I hear some companies are trying!). It’s true that our business model is very basic–we fill a very basic, but important need for great marketing copy. But we differentiate ourselves by doing it better than everyone else–and by being enjoyable to work with.
How did you wind up with a .ARMY domain? Was it a difficult decision moving away from a .COM?
We cover domain industry news for one of our clients. So we’ve been relatively aware of the new gTLDs that have become available over the last couple years. When we saw that .ARMY became available, it was a no-brainer. It allows us to use a shorter domain, comprised only of the words in our actual business name. However, we still use the .COM name (as well as a few others that redirect back to our site, like www.copywriting-service.com), and we have no plans to give those up anytime soon.
Did your .ARMY domain impact your branding in any way, or was your company already pretty invested in the aesthetic and tone before you got the domain?
The .ARMY domain was a recent purchase, but I suspect it will become more integrated into our brand over time. We consider it to be an important asset for our online presence, particularly in the long-term. It’s unique, easy to remember, and takes up less space in the URL bar (and in our email addresses). We will use it primarily when marketing our business, especially in our pay-per-click advertising. But it probably won’t influence our visual branding.
Is there anything you would like to leave our readers with?
Just in case you need better clarification of how Copy Army operates, all projects come through our headquarters in Elizabethtown, PA (outside of Harrisburg) and are overseen by me. We are decentralized, so our writers are based around the country. I am typically the main point of contact for each client, so that working with us is always simple–starting a new project is as simple as sending me an email. Then, projects are delegated to the appropriate writer on our team. Everything we produce is reviewed by at least two sets of eyes, ensuring quality and grammar.
These days, there are countless “freelance sites” that match clients with freelancers. While there is some value to these sites (we sometimes use them ourselves to find new clients), Copy Army is different in that we do this matching process manually. We’re very good at understanding what our clients need and which of our writers is the best fit. This saves our clients time and money. It all comes back to the idea of technology vs. human skill. When it comes to writing, it’s best to rely on real people with real talent.