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Why my copywriting agency made the switch to providing white label services

Because copywriting and dentistry are more similar than you’d think

When you think about white label copywriting services, some, erm, not great examples come to mind. Churn and burn content factories. Fiverr freelancers. Faceless agencies offering 24-hour turnarounds.

Imagine my surprise, then, to find myself here, in 2023 — the year of the Barbie Summer — making the switch to offering white label copywriting services.

And only white label copywriting services.

Yup, that’s me. You’re probably wondering how I ended up in this situation.

In early 2022, my copywriting business was going well. I had a nice blend of agency, corporate and small biz clients, I was booked up well in advance, and new business was flowing in at a steady rate.

But, around the corner, I could see a few dark clouds on the horizon.

AI tools getting smarter. Shrinking marketing budgets. Google core updates. It was all starting to look a little gloomy for us creative writers.

To add to this, I was getting itchy feet. I wanted to work on juicy, fulfilling projects in collaboration with other professionals. I wanted to write words that lots of people would read — even if I never got the credit.

As these thoughts swirled around my brain, I stumbled upon a podcast that changed everything.

It was called Boring Is Bad For Business, produced by a duo from a local creative agency called The Good Studio.

The name of the podcast immediately caught my attention. Boring IS bad for business! And everything I had been doing up until that point had been, well, boring.

My services? Well, I had heaps! And they were the same as every other copywriter out there.

My positioning? Practically non-existent. I was a generalist, offering everything to everyone.

My brand? Fun, friendly and not much else. A fellow creative described Heydays as a ‘warm hug’.

My blog? Bland. Because I had such a varied client base, I felt like taking a stand on anything was sure to offend someone. So, I stuck to safe topics and always offered an alternative position. Look, I wasn’t posting wet noodle articles like, ‘Why you should hire a copywriter in 2023’… but I was pretty close.

Something needed to change.

So, along with Amy, our Project Manager, Heydays Creative embarked on a journey of self-discovery. I partnered with the branding whizz kids at Sondo agency, who worked with us as we methodically ripped my agency apart and then strategically pieced it back together.

And what we were left with was, well, wonderful. Here’s what we discovered.

1. Our best projects were completed alongside designers

Previously, when we were working directly with clients, we would get a separate brief from their creative team. This meant copy + design were rarely aligned, causing lots of headaches for us, the designers and the client.

In some cases, copy was shoehorned into someone else’s creative vision. In others, the design team had to wait for copy approval before they could get to work, causing lengthy delays.

Our best projects? The ones that ran seamlessly, that left the client feeling stoked and looked absolutely fantastic? They were completed using a singular creative direction, with an aligned strategy and lots of designer/copywriter communication. Bliss.

2. Clients don’t often seek out copywriters on their own.

Sad, but true. Often clients reached out to us after their designer or agency had prompted them to find a copywriter, or they had attempted to write the copy themselves.

After four-ish years of this, I started to feel like a dentist: a necessary evil. Not someone you particularly wanted to visit. Definitely not someone you want to pay.

After each project wrapped, I’d find that clients were happy that we’d worked together, and over the moon with the work we’d produced. But it took a lot of education and heavy lifting to get them there.

On the other hand, clients who were sold copywriting as a part of their design package loved working with us. They were happy that someone was taking the writing part of the job out of their hands, and pleased that we’d be working directly with their designers. Hmm.

3. Most boutique agencies offer copywriting, but don’t have enough work to keep a writer on payroll.

Or, they’ve struggled to keep a writer on payroll. Creative souls that we are, most talented writers don’t last too long in the agency world, instead leaving for cushy in-house content writer jobs or trying their hand at the freelance life. I’ve found that when you talk to designers, there is always a need for white label copywriting. A need I’m happy to fill.

So, we got to work changing our positioning and visuals.

Once we wrapped up with Sondo, we engaged our friends at Theory Agency to turn our strategy into a new brand identity. From a ‘warm hug’ to a professional, cool and funny partner — someone you can trust to stick in front of your clients or jump into action when a deadline’s looming.

I’ll be honest, it was scary to niche into white labelling. We were effectively deciding to cut out a good portion of our client base (over 50%!) and focus on what we do best.

I know it’s not the right move for most writers. You relinquish a lot of creative control and often lose direct access to the client. You also switch over to agency invoicing and payment schedules, and will often be waiting on the job to completely finish before you get paid. I’m okay with that.

But for us, it’s definitely the right move.