Have you ever worked with a freelancer?
I have. Some good, and some not so good. Some overly precious, and some highly receptive to feedback. All freelancers are different, which makes finding the right one for you a Super Important Task. I even capitalised there, just to show you that I’m Very Serious.
So why would you hire a freelance copywriter, rather than doing it yourself?
Perhaps you’re already a good writer. Maybe you’re even learning to write your own website copy. And if so, then kudos to you! More wine up in here!
Copywriting is a skill that can be transferred to any industry, and it certainly comes in handy if you’re a start-up begging your friends for favours and staring at your bank balance as you weep upon your keyboard. I’ve been there! And I’ve done favours for weepy friends too. I have the free stuff to prove this.
But perhaps you’ve banged out a page of website content or two, and you’re not sure how to optimise your website content for search engines (SEO copywriting).
Or maybe you’ve made Google’s Keyword Planner your slave, and you’ve checked all the SEO boxes…but your page isn’t converting like you want it to.
There’s much to be said for learning to write your own website content. And there are a tonne of courses which can teach you the science behind transforming your hum-drum bursts of randomness into copy that hooks onto people’s hearts and their wallets.
But do you have the time to write it yourself?
Wouldn’t you rather spend time working in your business, rather than on it? Do you even like writing?
I’ll tell you what: hiring a professional copywriter elevates your copy to its full potential – that's copy which acquires you more customers and boosts your bottom line.
I was like you once: DIY or die. I designed my own logo, I edited a simple Squarespace template, and I even got my business cards printed at my local university to save on cash. Yeeeeesh.
While my branding was acceptable – I got enough work, I guess – I wasn’t working with the fashion brands I longed to have on my client roster. Which isn’t to say all of the clients I was already writing for weren’t great learning experiences, and pleasant to work with too. I’ve helped a lot of small businesses tell their stories online, but I wanted to niche down. It was only when I hired my graphic designer Dylan that I really started to feel a whole lot more confident, and began to work with big name fashion brands that I know and love.
And it’s the same for hiring a copywriter. You get what you pay for. And when you pay for a professional copywriter, you’ll get a professional copywriting job done.
How to hire a copywriter: my guide to getting your message SEEN, HEARD and FELT by the right people
Here’s the thing about copywriters – a lot of us don’t have degrees in copywriting. I come from a background in journalism, so I have a diploma in journalism and a bachelor degree in mass communications. I also studied English literature, so my grammar is top notch, unless I’m intentionally being a smart ass – which I often am.
So how did I learn how to write a sales page that converts browsers into buyers? It wasn’t by reading Jane Austen – it was by writing sales pages myself.
Forget looking for a tertiary qualified copywriter or English major. If your brand is in need of punchy headlines, email campaigns that actually get opened and clicked on, and sales pages that have people throwing their sweet cash at you, you need to think about more than a degree.
So what do you need to do to hire a copywriter?
There are thousands of copywriters who’d jump at the chance to write for you. You could easily just email one, and hey presto – there’s a copywriter for you. But why settle for a so-so word-wrangler for a great price, when you can find the best one for you?
Here’s my 5-step process for screening copywriters. Pay attention to them, and you’ll be far more likely to enter a creative partnership that boosts your brand and gets your message seen, heard and acted on.
1. Find out what you need, and know your business goals
Not all copywriters are alike. Some have better experience writing press releases, some are boss at writing website content, some excel at writing business proposals.
If you can, decide what kind of copy you need before you ask for a quote, and what goals this will fulfill. Why? Because it saves you time going back and forth to your copywriter. It’s quite common for copywriters to get a lot of requests from business owners asking for “a couple of lines” about their business, or a “one-pager” to hand out to potential customers.
If you’re unsure what you need, get your copywriter to help you decide! Start with the goal. Need to tell the world about your new fashion line? Hire a copywriter to write you a press release. Got a great product and need to see some sales? You could do with a sales page or a Facebook ad.
Once you know your goals, it’ll be a lot easier to brief your copywriter. And if your copywriter is briefed properly, they’ll do a much better job of boosting your profits with their prose.
Bonus points for the copywriter who’ll help with the briefing process!
2. Find the best match for your business, not the best copywriter on Google
I’m going to potentially shoot myself in the foot here, but just because I’m #1 for ‘melbourne copywriter’ on Google, doesn’t mean that I’m the best fit for every Melbourne business. Every business is different, and I work best with a very particular type of client. That’s why when I get a quote request from a business, I ask a few questions first to see how well we’d work together.
Do you want to work with someone young who can speak to a young audience? Or do you need a copywriter with automotive knowledge? Do your research first: get referrals, search Google, and find the right copywriter for YOU.
3. Find out their process
If you want your copy delivered to you on time and on brief, you’ll need a hyper-organised copywriter. When screening your copywriter, ask them how they work. Do they bill for 50% of the project up front before they even start looking at your business? How long will they give you to provide feedback? How do they try to get to know you and your business? How quickly can they work? Ask these questions, and you’ll avoid a lot of confusion in the long run.
4. Have a price in mind…but don’t focus on it
There’s a common misconception amongst those unfamiliar with hiring freelancers: copywriters are interchangeable. And for that reason, people often end up focusing on price. Why hire a copywriter for $75 an hour when you can hire one for $10 on Elance? Because you get what you pay for, dummy!
If you pay nothing, you will get next to nothing. Actually, you’ll likely end up losing money. Ouch. A good copywriter charges their worth. So while you should keep your marketing budget in mind, don’t put price first. Put value first.
5. Make sure they write for humans, not the machine
Does your copywriter keep on top of SEO news? They better, or your copy’s in grave danger, Robinson! But seriously, can the keyword stuffers and go for a copywriter who knows how to use emotive language that spurs action. Of course, keywords are vital for knowing what your prospects are searching for. I like to call it SEO-soning. Har har har. But if someone lands on your page and it’s written like a robot is talking with keywords stuffed in all willy-nilly, no one’s going to buy what you’re selling. Get a copywriter who reads voraciously and writes like Nabokov on crack. Or can at least spin a good yarn that makes people feel things.
Hiring a copywriter is a task that will take you a good two weeks. Whether you meet in person or it’s all done online, take your time in finding the right one for your brand. Do this, and you’ll turn your website, press release or Facebook ads into gold. Gold!
Because what you say is just as important as what you sell. And good copy written by a professional copywriter proves it.