Finding a copywriter is easy. Finding the right one? Not so much.
Looking for a freelance copywriter? Great decision.
Choosing to work with a professional writer is a great investment in your business – providing you choose the right one.
But there are so many of us out here, waiting to take your call, quote for your business and bash out your copy.
Many of us are also bloody fantastic at what we do – we’ve worked with a diverse range of clients, we come with glowing testimonials and our rates fall well within your budget.
So how on earth do you decide which writer is the most suitable for your copywriting project?
Here are my top tips for finding the right writer to suit your individual needs (because as much as I’d always like that to be me, it’s not possible to be a good fit for every project.)
The first thing you can do to narrow down the field is to make some basic decisions.
A general shout-out (‘looking for a copywriter – can you help’) is likely to lead to a large and equally general response, so be specific.
If you’re looking for someone to write web copy, you may want to find a writer who focuses on this type of work.
If you’re looking for a writer to cover a lot of bases (perhaps writing web copy, blog posts and print copy) then you might want to consider hiring a generalist writer who can turn their hand to a variety of mediums.
You also need to decide whether your project involves editing existing copy that isn’t performing as you’d like or whether you need your writer to start from scratch – or whether you’d like potential writers to advise you on this as part of their quote.
It’s also helpful to have some idea of a deadline for your project, as many copywriters take bookings weeks and months in advance.
A detailed brief
Give potential writers as much information as you can about tone of voice, target audience and intended purpose, along with providing information about the scope of the project (is it just one page of web copy, or might this job lead to content for the whole site, along with a range of other marketing materials?)
Your brief might also include a rough wordcount for the project along with a proposed deadline.
The best work I’ve done has been as a result of well thought out, highly informative briefs. Of course, it’s part of my job to ask the right questions and tease the relevant information out of clients – and I’ll do this when responding to your initial enquiry, if needs be – but the more you can give me to go on from the beginning, the more you’ll get in return.
Niche to meet you…
A few potential clients are looking for something more specific than I can offer – for instance, if their work is in a financial, medical or technical sector and is of a highly complex nature, they may do better to hire a writer that specialises in this type of work.
If this is the case, I let people know when they make an enquiry, and can often point them in the direction of a copywriter that focuses on the type of writing they’re looking for.
As a generalist copywriter, I’ve worked with clients in areas as diverse as audio equipment retail, organic skincare, engineering, drinks manufacture and catering. I also work with a range of different medium, including web copy, print copy, case studies, press releases, advertising and email copy, blog posts, articles and more. I thrive on variety and working with me can certainly be a great way to find a fresh new approach.
As I don’t work within a niche, I also take the time to thoroughly research and understand your industry in order to write with authority and clarity. Perhaps this extra effort is why so many clients choose to work with me when there are specialist writers available in their sector.
What’s your budget?
Choosing a copywriter based exclusively on price is a mistake. Big. Huge.
While it doesn’t necessarily follow that the most expensive writer you consult is the best writer you’ll find, the old adage is true when it comes to copywriting – if you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur.
Sites like Upwork and People Per Hour allow clients to find writers who are willing to work for very low rates indeed (in comparison to industry standards.) If you use this approach, you may get lucky and chance upon a decent writer who produces a work of a good standard. More likely, however, you’ll end up with poor quality copy that leaves you disappointed, doesn’t do the job and makes it necessary for you to hire another writer along the line to repair or repeat the work.
Price is always going to be a factor when hiring a copywriter, but it’s important to make hiring decisions based on a combination of this and the level of experience and expertise you’ll be getting for your money, along with how well you feel the writer understands your brief and whether you’ve ‘clicked’ on initial contact.
Working with a professional writer is an investment and should be approached as such. Happily for you, this means that you should see a good return on any money you shell out – so ask any writer you approach what he or she feels can be achieved through the copy they’ll be writing, and what results they’ve got for other clients. This may not be applicable or achievable for all types of copy, but web copy, for instance, should help to generate more traffic to your site and should convert some of this into new leads.
How available is the copywriter?
Good copywriters are busy, and you may have to book them a few weeks or months in advance. Once they’re working on your job, however, you should receive their undivided attention.
The same should be expected when making your initial enquiry -does the writer respond quickly and attentively, ask questions, seem friendly and keen to work with you? These things are good signs for your future relationship.
I’ve hired a fair few freelancers and have always been amazed at the difference in how self-employed professionals respond to enquiries. When someone seems as if getting back to you is a chore and doesn’t appear bothered whether they work with you or not, walk away and give your business to a freelancer who appreciates the custom.
Even when I’m mad busy and unable to take on any new clients, I still take the time to respond to queries and recommend a couple of other writers who may be available.
Are you looking for a local yokel?
As a freelance copywriter, most of my work is done remotely. There are so many ways to communicate that keeping in touch is easy and I’m generally happy to use whatever method works best for my client, whether that’s email, phone, skype, Google docs, what’s app or another method of their choice.
If I’m the best writer for the job, distance is never an issue and I have regular clients in the USA, Australia, Europe and Saudi Arabia along with many in the UK, of course.
Some clients, however, prefer to use a local writer – and this is fine too. Just knowing someone is from your neck of the woods and recognising a familiar accent or bonding over local knowhow is often reassuring.
When selecting a writer, you can feel like you’re going into the process blind, reading claims on numerous websites that you’re not sure you can believe. Often, finding a local freelancer provides a little reassurance and is a good starting point for building a relationship.
Many clients find me by searching some variation of ‘Copywriter in Leeds’ though we never actually end up meeting in person. Some have given no thought whatsoever to where I am in the world when they approach me.
Think about whether distance is an issue. Perhaps you’d like to meet a write fact to face before hiring them? Perhaps you’d like them to come and visit your business onsite and meet some of your staff?
The choice is yours.
Does the copywriter work onsite?
Working on site with a business or agency isn’t something I usually do. I’m a freelance worker for a reason, and not only do I enjoy the flexibility of this kind of work, my life currently demands it (small dependents, two bald and one furry!)
This doesn’t meant that I won’t consider on site work for the right opportunity. The odd day or two, within a couple of hour’s travelling distance, is perfectly possible.
Many freelancers are happy to travel to your place of work and collaborate with your team in person. Think about whether this would enhance the project you’re working on.
Can the copywriter add value?
I’m a copywriter, but if I notice something is off in another area of your business, I’ll probably mention it (though I’d never tell you if I thought your shoes were ugly.)
I won’t just knock on your door and run away, however. If I’m going to point out that something’s not working as well as it could, I’ll also make suggestions for how it could be improved.
Many of my clients have let me know how much this feedback is appreciated, feeling that I care about their business rather than getting the job done, taking my pay and moving on to the next job.
I want to help your business succeed in the long term, and this means getting to know you and your brand, what makes you tick and where you’re headed in the future. If I don’t agree with your thinking, I’ll challenge it. If I think a copywriting decision is important, I’ll press again.
Ultimately, all final decisions are yours, and I’ll respect that. This doesn’t mean that I’ll go quietly if I think you’re making a mistake! Rather, I’ll ask you to clarify your thinking and explore other options.
If you’re looking for a copywriter who will blindly agree with everything, I’m probably not the copywriter for you (and you might question why you’re looking for a copywriter at all.)
I believe that I add value, and I’m not going to withhold that value from a client!
Do you need a dream team or just a copywriter?
I understand the basics of SEO and can write page titles, meta descriptions and make use of keywords with ease. I’m not, however, an SEO copywriter ,and my knowledge doesn’t stretch to offering tailored SEO advice (though I can give some general pointers.)
If you need an SEO whizz, however, I can suggest a couple of fabulous choices. The same goes for recommending some great designers.
I’m usually a lone wolf – so if you need a team made up of different professionals, working with a marketing agency may be a better choice than an individual freelancer.
Does the copywriter ever say no?
Beware of a copywriter who always says yes. Chances are, they’re stretching themselves to accommodate things that are way out of their remit or not the best thing for you and your business.
If I don’t think I’m the right person to quote for or undertake your work, I’ll let you know (and can suggest some specialist writers that for you to consult instead.) If I can’t write 300 product descriptions in three hours, I’ll tell you.
This doesn’t mean that I can’t and won’t work outside my comfort zone. In fact, I’ve delivered some of my finest work for clients when my capabilities or experience have been stretched. If I believe I can do a great job for you, I’d love to be considered for the work. But I’ll say no to this, and to any decision that I believe is detrimental to you or me.