Seeking the best supplement copywriter? It is I, The Natural Health Writer™. But if you don’t get to work with me, you are still in luck: In this guide I share the best qualities, talents and skills to look for in a nutritional supplement copywriter.
What to Look For in a Supplement Copywriter
Each section will be in the context of my own experience. But you can still use this insight to find the best supplement writer for your needs and sensibilities.
DSHEA Knowledge: the Big Fundamental
If you are interviewing a copywriter to help you sell nutritional supplements, one of the first questions you should ask: “What do you know about DSHEA?”
If the candidate has claimed nutritional supplement expertise in his or her resume, and they respond to this question with a deer-in-the-headlights stare, then you are dealing with a charlatan who must be bounced from your office post-haste.
I find this to be one of the more discouraging aspects of the nutritional supplement industry.
There are so many companies selling products, and so many copywriters describing those products, who clearly have no understanding or no respect for the very legislation that has enabled our industry to thrive for the past 25+ years.
Nutritional supplement copywriter charlatans are easy to identify by their copy… as long as you know what to look for.
But it’s really more effective to ask them about DSHEA directly, as sometimes it is the company that hired them who is pushing them to make irresponsible claims about their supplements.
Now that I’m thinking about it, another great way to phrase this question would be “What does DSHEA stand for?”
(A reminder, it is the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act!)
Either you know it, or you don’t. And if you don’t, you should not be writing about nutritional supplements.
The Natural Health Writer has expertise in DSHEA that no other supplement copywriter can match.
I broke into the nutritional supplement industry in 2003, about 10 years after the passage of DSHEA.
My first role was as a copywriter and creative specialist for Natural Organics Inc., more widely known as Nature’s Plus.
In this role, I was fortunate to work closely with Gerald Kessler, a primary architect of DSHEA a true nutritional supplement industry legend.
We would sit together in his office. I would place a digital recorder on the desk between us and hit record. Then, Mr. Kessler would simply talk. And every word was golden.
The storytelling that he shared about developing and ultimately passing DSHEA I then turned into a monthly column for his health freedom organization, the Nutritional Health Alliance. Each column was published the natural health magazine Energy Times.
Over the course of years, I wrote several dozen of these Washington Update columns, which focused on educating readers about DSHEA and warning them of legislative threats with the potential to restrict our access to vitamins and dietary supplements.
Each one closed with a rousing call to action, encouraging the reader to contact their elected officials in the name of Health Freedom.
One of Kessler’s biggest campaigns in this arena was the following commercial starring Mel Gibson:
Working with Mr. Kessler and the Nutritional Health Alliance was a real eye-opening experience for me.
It required that I stay up to date with all percolating legislation that could ever present a threat to the nutritional supplement industry, such as Adverse Event Reporting (AER), which in its early incarnations was sketchy at best.
In the style of Gerald Kessler, every potential threat was always at a “red alert” level.
Sure, some of it was propaganda. But 100% of these efforts were truly dedicated to protecting consumers’ God-given rights to take whatever nutritional supplements they choose, and keep those nutritional supplements affordable and accessible.
I consider it one of the great honors of my career to have worked with Gerald Kessler. Especially on the Washington Update columns. They were fierce and relentless in defending the industry, which also sums up Mr. Kessler’s legacy quite well.
The lesson: if you want to hire a good nutritional supplement copywriter, make sure that they know what DSHEA.
If you want to hire the best supplement copywriter, contact me.
I worked one-on-one with the architect of DSHEA – an experience that no other copywriter in the world can claim.
Critical Thinking Under Pressure
If you’re looking for a copywriter, writing ability is paramount. But the nutritional supplement industry is an entirely different animal from copywriting in other industries. It requires a greater degree of critical thinking.
Now, something like DSHEA, even if the writer has no knowledge of it, he or she can learn about it and gain expertise.
But I tend to think that critical thinking is more an ability that one is born with. It can be developed, and it can progress with experience and time.
But ultimately, it is a talent – either you’ve got it, or you don’t.
The nutritional supplement copywriter who excels must see things that no one else sees. It requires parsing a large amount of data. Distinguishing between credible and fraudulent sources. And distilling all that information into something that is compelling and easy to understand.
So how does one test for critical thinking? My suggestion: give a writing test.
When I interviewed for that first job with Nature’s Plus I was given a copywriting test. Ironically, at the time I didn’t even want the job. So I went into the test with a carefree attitude and hotshot confidence.
There were 12 writers in the conference room who had been selected from a pool of over 500 applicants.
I surveyed the competition and shrugged. I did not care. The research and development director at the time gave a very brief rundown on nutritional supplement copywriting, and then passed out the test.
The goal was to write two advertisements for Nature’s Plus Animal Parade line of children’s vitamins, based on the packaging alone.
I recall the room was so tense. Everybody was sweating bullets. Meanwhile, I was suppressing laughter.
I thought to myself, what do kids want? What do their parents want?
The copy flowed. Cherry cheetahs and lemon lions. Nutrition in disguise.
It worked. I got the job, and began dominating the nutritional supplement industry from day one.
Of course, this is an oversimplified assignment, and what I do today is far more complex – but I believe my success remains rooted in critical thinking, especially under pressure.
NOTE: Don’t ask me to do a writing test. How dare you.
Those days are long gone. But I do advise giving a test to applicants if you are hiring a nutritional supplement copywriter for your company.
Make it general, open-ended, and brief, with a deadline measured in minutes and not hours and days.
See what your applicants can produce. Can they deliver a salient, salesy line about your product that cuts to the quick?
Well, if so you might just have a good nutritional supplement copywriter. But not the best supplement copywriter.
Nutritional Supplement-Specific Research Skills
In 2020, the information age is dead.
Okay, maybe that is little dramatic. But allow me to explain.
The world is oversaturated with information. It is at our fingertips 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Need to know something? Grab your ever-present cell phone and call up the Google.
The problem with this modern model, sadly, is the rise of fake news. Or, in this case, it is perhaps more accurate to say fake information.
In the context of the nutritional supplement industry, fake information is more than a nuisance.
If a supplement writer is getting his or her information about your product from unreliable sources, you can be setting your company up for a lot of problems:
- Regulatory concerns
- Legal concerns
- Ethical concerns
It is crucially important that we connect our customers with reliable and accurate information about nutritional supplements. So they can use them for maximum effect, safely, comfortably, and cost-effectively.
All of this circles back to nutritional supplement research.
It is not about the information anymore. It is about the questions we ask to get the information. It is about where we choose to seek the information.
If you’re hiring a nutritional supplement copywriter who claims to have industry expertise, ask them for writing sample with references.
If they are getting their information from a random blog, the National Enquirer, or other fake news sources, then kick them to the curb with gusto.
The Natural Health Writer knows how to find the good stuff.
Lately, more of my work is focusing on the research end of things.
This is partly because of the increasing demand for credibility in the nutritional supplement industry.
This was highlighted by the 2018 Google “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL) update that decimated traffic for many health-related brands.
I don’t always agree with the Google, but I do in this case.
The sweeping algorithm changes placed greater scrutiny on nutritional supplement websites and where they were getting their information.
The Google’s demands are now known as E-A-T:
Research alone does not cover all of these bases, but it is a great help.
I had already been creating copy that is extensively researched and referenced, but since the update I have advanced my research came to an entirely new level.
To reiterate an earlier point, the best supplement copywriter must see things that no one else can see.
When you apply this to research, the context changes to asking questions that no one else asks.
Supplement copywriting can only achieve greatness when it is backed by Great research.
When it comes to research and the supplement industry no one can approach the skill of the Natural Health Writer.
I see things no one else sees. I ask questions that no one else asks. And I know how to find the good stuff — beyond PubMed — that establishes the exact kind of authority you need for high Google rankings and responsible supplement marketing.
FDA Writing: Respect the Agency
This one plays off the DSHEA knowledge prerequisite.
If you’re hiring a writer who claims nutritional supplement marketing expertise, take a look at the claims that are in samples that they provide.
Are they responsible? Are they respectful? Or do they flout FDA guidelines and create risk for the supplement brands?
In this sphere, again, the Natural Health Writer has experience and expertise that no other supplement copywriter can match.
But it wasn’t easy. I learned this the hard way.
Specifically, I have sat down with lawyers representing some of the biggest nutritional supplement brands in the world…. and had my copy mercilessly shredded.
I have walked in with clean supplement sell sheets, and walked out with 90% of my content crossed out with a red pen.
It was painful, but I am most grateful for this experience. Working closely with leading industry lawyers has given me insight on how to manage nutritional supplement copywriting from a legal perspective.
Of course, I am not a lawyer. I don’t claim to be a lawyer. And in order to work with me, my clients must sign a document acknowledging that I am not a lawyer.
Nutritional supplement industry lawyers keep our industry afloat, and do a lot of hard work to get there. I would never want to diminish what they do.
Instead, I focus on making their lives easier. I strive to get my content close to target. Only a lawyer can definitively declare nutritional supplement copy to be FDA-compliant.
What I shoot for instead is copy that is respectful to the FDA.
FDA writing is my specialty. I know the pitfalls. I know the red flags. I know the ticking time bombs. I write to avoid these dangers and keep it respectful every step of the way. The end result:
Clients are astonished at how quickly and easily my supplement copywriting passes legal review.
Less time and legal means less money spent on lawyers and faster speed to market – all while remaining respectful to both the FDA and the nutritional supplement industry at large.
Learn more about my FDA Writing for Nutritional Supplements here.
SEO and Content Marketing Skills
The early part of my career revolved around print publications. Brochures, pamphlets, magazines, booklets, direct response pieces, catalog projects, you name it. All to sell nutritional supplements, with the occasional complementary piece on alternative health and physical fitness.
The medium was incredible at the time. But I watched it waste away, eventually to be replaced with the digital information age.
When I started writing web content, a truth quickly became apparent:
The Google likes me. Really likes me.
This may be attributed to the fact that I really started gaining steam with web content around the Google Panda Update of 2011.
This crucial update raised the bar on writing quality.
Since I was already obsessively focused on writing original, high-quality content, I naturally achieved great search engine ranking results.
Since then, I have had the good fortune of working closely with some of the world’s leading SEO experts.
Over time, I began augmenting my content with advanced SEO strategies. The rankings got even better.
Now, my content is built upon a foundation of exceptionally high-quality writing, advanced SEO practices, and deep research that meets the Google’s more recent E-A-T demands.
All of this adds up to the most effective nutritional supplement content marketing the industry has ever seen.
It has been truly remarkable the past few years to see the game-changing results my content marketing services can produce.
I won’t belabor the details, but a couple of favorite accomplishments in this arena:
High Volume Supplement Blogging
For one client, I published 83 web articles across three brands in one month.
Now, I didn’t do it alone. For projects like these, I have a team of writers at my writing agency — Apollo Press, Inc. — to help.
I am particularly proud of this accomplishment due to the quality of the content that was produced.
These were not lighthearted blog pieces. Each one was a thought leadership piece. Ranging from 2500 words to 5000 words. Exquisitely written, thoroughly researched and referenced, masterfully SEO-tuned, and skillfully crafted to sell product.
Absolute Google SERP Dominance
For another client, over the course of about six months I produced about 100 web articles about a specific area of health to promote a specific nutritional supplement.
Again, this was a full-spectrum assignment. It involved:
- Creating the blog post format/template
- Establishing the voice and tone of posts
- Developing a full editorial calendar and schedule
- Researching and referencing each article
- Writing each piece with a focus on FDA-friendliness
- Image sourcing, with a focus on public domain images
- Internal linking to relevant pages
- External linking to credible sources
- SEO practices; keyword research, meta tags, excerpts, etc.
- Helping to build a sales funnel that integrates with blog posts
- Everything else you can imagine, including training my team
A few months after the assignment was completed I ran down the list of articles checking the search engine result placement of each one.
The results were astonishing.
- 99% of the articles produced were on the first page of Google
- About 93% had secured number one ranking in Google
The cherry on top, of which I’m exceptionally proud, is that every single one of these pieces was respectful to the FDA and representative of the very best principles of the nutritional supplement industry.
The Natural Health Writer cannot take full credit for these spectacular results.
Site authority counts, backlinks count, and other talented individuals contributed to this success.
But for content marketing, I was the visionary of the campaign.
Since that pinnacle, some of the articles have fallen off in rankings, but that’s just how it goes if you’re not updating them.
Regardless, if you’re talking about a return on investment, I can’t imagine anything more successful than this type of content marketing.
The articles that I wrote, directed and published generated tremendous revenue right off the bat, and will continue generating revenue for years and years.
Only the best nutritional supplement copywriter in the world can deliver these content marketing results.
Copywriting Skills to Pay the Bills
It took a while to get here, but let’s talk about the crux of it all: great writing!
I believe the nutritional supplement industry is perhaps the most challenging industry for copywriting.
You have to navigate all of the above concerns, but still produce effective sales copy.
So how can you do it? How can you sell health and wellness while facing so many limitations on the words you can use and claims you can make?
If I were to sum it up in one word, I would say storytelling.
You have to say it without saying it. But you can tell parallel stories.
My method involves crystallizing the consumer’s desire. That is the destination. Then, we determine the route, which is often circuitous.
Connecting the supplement to a realization of the consumers’ ultimate desire requires a lot of research, parsing of information, positioning, development of claims, and more.
But ultimately the horsepower that drives us there is the writing itself.
- From a technical standpoint, The writing presents the solution in a way that is respectful to the customer, the industry, and the regulatory bodies that govern it.
- From a sales standpoint, writing must paint a beautiful picture of robust health and exhilarating vitality. It’s not easy. But I can take you there.
Merging these two lanes requires a skillful driver. The Natural Health Writer says, gimme the keys. Let’s ride.
Best Supplement Copywriter Stack: Experience + Talent
When I was a young, cocky nutritional supplement copywriter, I wrote a post about how talent trumps experience.
My logic at the time was, any clown can hang around the company for 30 years and do nothing… but still claim that they have 30 years of experience. Which, at first glance, seems quite impressive.
Talent, on the other hand, is something I believe that we are born with.
So an exceptionally talented individual with one year of experience is more valuable than a no-talent hack with 30 years of experience.
Now I am older and wiser. I see a deeper truth. This is not a binary A/B scenario.
The ultimate combination to look for in the best supplement copywriter is talent and experience.
It is almost unbelievable for me to say it, but I have been a nutritional supplement copywriter for 17 years. (!)
The first four years were with Nature’s Plus in a corporate environment. But I broke away from corporate to do more as a freelance copywriter.
So I started my own business: Apollo Press, Inc. – Supplemental Copywriting.
Since I left Nature’s Plus in 2007, I have:
- Created 2 natural health magazines, published 100K+ copies
- Developed and wrote 7 natural health booklets, published 10+ million copies
- Worked on a variety of jobs with dozens of the best companies in the nutritional supplement industry
- Written about hundreds of different supplements, targeting all sorts of demographics and myriad health concerns
- Written hundreds of Google-dominating nutritional supplement web articles
- Toured the inner workings of some of the greatest nutritional supplement manufacturing facilities on the planet
- Developed sales training programs for associates of a leading nutritional supplement retail chain
- Identified an emerging supplement keyword; wrote and published a targeted article in a few hours, and secured #1 ranking and 5,000+ visitors for the keyword within 48 hours
- Worked with nutritional supplement visionaries and legends, including founders of several brands who launched the industry
All the while I have focused on developing my copywriting talent and increasing my knowledge base.
One of the coolest things about being a writer is that, with dedication, you can keep getting better at your craft as you get older.
My writing talents and experience keep advancing.
I have become that formidable combination of talent and experience.
No one can approach me in these qualities. This is why I proclaim myself to be the best nutritional supplement copywriter on the planet.
And the crazy part? I know in my heart that my best work is yet to come.
Conclusion: Natural Health Writer™ is Numero Uno
Writing is what sells nutritional supplements. But the actual practice of nutritional supplement copywriting is incredibly complex.
To succeed, the writer must blend a combination of skills — educating the consumer in a responsible manner, maintaining careful respect for the FDA and other regulatory bodies, and selling the heck out of product with classic copywriting techniques.
If you want your supplement to excel in the marketplace, an el-cheapo writer off fiverr or similar just won’t cut it. You need a specialist.
The Natural Health Writer™ is the best supplement copywriter the industry has ever seen.
At least, until somebody better comes along. And considering that I get better at supplement copywriting every single day, that is unlikely.
If you are hiring a nutritional supplement copywriter, you are welcome to contact me, even if just to chat about the industry.
And if not, please do use the tips in this guide to find a writer who is a great fit for your brand.
The rising tide floats all boats.
The more skilled copywriters there are creating dynamic, creative and responsible sales copy for nutritional supplements, the more ALL of us will thrive and prosper.
So take care in hiring your supplement copywriter. And when you find a good one, hang on tight… ’cause the best are hard to come by.
We All Shine On,
~ P.J.S., the N.H.W.