Most businesses have something to say. It’s finding the right way to say it that can be tricky. When you’re looking for the right words to grow your business, a copywriter is often the answer. Hiring one needn’t be difficult but, understandably, it often is. Finding the best copywriter for your business will impact how your customers and everyone else views your brand. So getting it right is important.
A great hire begins with you. You’ll need to have a clear definition of what you want and why you want it before someone can deliver it. Once you have that down, the rest falls into place more easily. You’ll be able to figure out the skills you’re looking for and the kind of copy you need.
Defining your copywriting project
Whether it’s a single project or ongoing content for a variety of media – emails, social posts, YouTube descriptions, your website pages and blogs – having a clear definition of what you need will help you find the right person, or people, to work with. It’ll also help that person deliver it. So start out by asking yourself some questions. A good copywriter will have their own questions to ask you too, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
What do you need the copywriter to create?
Is it a conversion landing page for your website, a series of emails that encourage your customers toward a sale or a sign-up, a regular blog for your website or customer case studies that showcase your products or services? Each of these assets takes slightly different skills and will impact the kind of writer you’re looking for.
A copywriter tends toward promotional and conversion writing. That’s things like ads, sales pages and conversion email series. These writing skills combined with an understanding of sales psychology and human behaviour, create content that prompts readers to action. In short, their words convert browsers to buyers.
A content writer does more ‘top of funnel’ writing, that’s your blog posts, YouTube and product descriptions and introductory content. This type of writing engages, informs, summarises and educates. Usually, content writer rates are less overwhelming than copywriters who generate action, conversions and help you clinch a sale.
What does the content need to do?
Are you attracting more customers, or converting those you’ve already attracted into actual customers. Do you want to engage, inform, educate, entertain, rank better or convert?
Who is the target audience for the work? What do they want?
When it comes to writing, it’s crucial to know who you are writing for and their drivers. This enables a writer to be able to deliver on those needs and write the words that make a connection with the audience. Writing for a ten-year-old interested in Minecraft is very different from writing for a business that needs to streamline its processes with management software.
It’s also worth noting that your audience is NOT everyone. If you are aiming to write for everyone, you are reaching no one.
What is the key message that needs to be conveyed?
All copy should have a point and an overt or underlying message. Pointless copy doesn’t do anyone any favours, least of all your business.
What is your tone of voice?
How do you speak to your customers? Do you have a serious and professional tone of voice or do you opt for more of a friendly, helping you out style? It’s good marketing practice to maintain the same tone of voice through all of your copy, regardless of what part of the funnel it’s for. This supports your brand and creates a more reliable and steady image that customers can depend on.
Will the project involve other creatives?
Will someone be taking care of design, images or other elements that will impact the words? Working interdependently may change the way a writer needs to produce and deliver their work. If there are lots of meetings involved, it will also change how and what they charge.
Do you need the best copywriter?
Obviously, the more experienced a writer is, the more they will charge and the less likely they are to work at a discounted rate. Consider not only the level of experience you need but also the areas of experience that are most relevant to your project or ongoing needs for copy and/or content. There’s no point hiring an expensive top-notch conversion writer if you only need a weekly blog to engage customers and answer their questions.
Where to find the best copywriter
Once you know what you’re looking for, and why, it’s time to go looking for the person with the skills who can deliver what you need. There are a couple of ways you can do this, each with its own pros and cons…
Go to a copywriting platform Most professionals have industry organisations that help members improve their craft and represent their work. Copywriting is no different. For the UK, that’s ProCopywriters. They hold conferences on the craft of writing engaging copy that converts, support members with their copywriter directory and advertises great writing gigs that are both full-time jobs and one-off projects. Searching their directory is easy, as is hiring one of their members. They publish yearly suggested rates and there are no commission fees to pay either. Simple, right?
The downside is that you’ll need to do your own vetting process. Check out the copywriter’s background, review their portfolio and any customer testimonies. Ask the right questions and watch out for the questions they have for you too.
Search Google So much these days begins with a Google search, right? Tap in ‘copywriter’ and your location or the kind of copy you need and you’re guaranteed to find hundreds of results. It’s highly unlikely that there will be a bad word about the copywriter on their website, but you’ll be able to get a grasp of their natural style and flair with words, the kind of writing they do and view their portfolio of past work. Then it’s a simple matter of getting in touch to see if they’re available and interested in your job. Simple, right?
The downside is, you don’t really know what you’re getting yourself into. The questions you ask (and there are some good one’s for you below) will be really important. Again, the questions they have for you are just as important. Always aim for a conversation, or to meet in person, before you move ahead. You want to know that you can get along with the writer as well as be sure they can create the copy your business needs.
Check out freelancing platforms Upwork, Fiver, Contently, ClearVoice and more have content and copywriters waiting for projects from businesses like you. The advantage to this way of hiring is you can outline your project, post it on the platform and wait for pitches from interested professionals to get in touch. Simple, right?
The downside is, you may not be sure what you’re getting. Some platforms give ratings for their freelancers, others don’t. Skills don’t need to be verified and anyone can call themselves a writer – there’s no central certifying body, nor is there a universally recognised path to becoming competent with content or copywriting.
Price doesn’t always guarantee quality. When using these platforms, thoroughly check out the talent you’re considering. Review feedback from other clients the freelancer has worked with, check out their portfolio and make sure you ask the right questions before you hire. Also, watch for the questions the freelancer asks you – this is just as important as the answers they give to your questions.
Find copy you like and track down the writer If you’ve seen some copy and thought “that’s exactly what I need” the chances are there’s a professional writer behind it. The advantage to finding a copywriter this way is you know for sure that they can deliver the goods. It shouldn’t take too much effort to find them either. Just get in touch with the person or business behind the words and ask. Simple, right?
The downside is, some of those writers will be full-time employees and not available for hire. Sometimes it’s an agency behind the words and you’ll have to engage that business without being sure you’re getting the best copywriter for your project. At other times, it could be it’s a freelance writer who takes on new projects, they may not have time for yours. This is just the way the cookie crumbles sometimes. If this is the case when you find a writer you like, you should be asking “Can you put me in touch with another writer like you?”
What to ask a copywriter before you hire
Whichever avenue you choose to find a copywriter or a team of writers, finding the best copywriter to fit your business will come down to the questions you ask. If you don’t ask the right questions, you can’t be sure you’re getting what you need. But you should also be open to answering some questions from the copywriter too. If they don’t ask questions, your should be backing away – fast!
- What sort of copy or content do you specialise in? This question alone won’t be enough to figure out a copywriters strengths, but it is a good start. All copywriters have an individual package of strengths and preferences. Some are great at advertising concepts, press releases or conversion landing pages. They may have a preference for B2B (business to business) communications or B2C (business to consumer) styles of writing, while this isn’t a specialism as such, it is good to know.
Some copywriters are more content writers with a firm grasp of SEO and link building practices. You’ll need to understand what they’re good at to figure out if they’re the right match for you and your project.
- Do you have a portfolio of work and examples of your writing that’s similar to my project or industry? Anyone can tell you they have done something, but seeing examples of work will speak volumes more than you’ll ever get in a conversation about their skills and your needs.
- What is your writing process? Some copywriters immerse themselves in research before writing a word, others write and research concurrently. Some may like to send the first draft over knowing it needs to be worked on while others will be aiming for a polished document that won’t need much editing. Understanding a writers process can smooth the working relationship from the outset.
- What’s your typical turnaround time and how do you manage deadlines? This is pretty self-explanatory. But if the deadline means first drafts that need additional editing to the writer and finished copy to you, it needs to be sorted from the start.
- What do you charge? Pricing can vary from writer to writer and even project to project. While some writers may be happy with a project fee, others will be asking for an hourly rate or a per word rate. Some might even give you a flat rate for some aspects, but an hourly rate for others. Knowing what the best copywriters charge, and how they arrive at their fee is essential information.
- Can I get in touch with any former clients of yours? As mentioned earlier, it’s unlikely any business is going to highlight their bad reviews. However, speaking with past clients can help you understand what it is like to work with the copywriter and the kind of relationship you might expect to develop.
Copywriters need to work with you like a partner, not as someone who goes away with your project and turns up x amount of time later with a bunch of words. Collaboration is a big part of creating copy – and content – that is going to meet your expectations and goals. So note what they’re like to deal with over the course of your conversations and don’t expect a single chat to be enough. Once you’ve outlined the project, a good copywriter is going to want to do a little research about your job, then come back to you for another conversation or two. Chances are, you’ll want the same.
What the best copywriter will ask you
Over the course of the conversation, take note of how much the copywriter knows about your business. At the very least, they should have checked out your website to have a good understanding of what you do. You’ll also want to give the copywriter some time to ask you a few questions too.
Expect any or all of the following questions from a copywriter and remember, they’re likely to be scoping out whether they want to work with you too. That’s why it’s best to have clarified your project well before you go out looking for talent to craft the words you need.
- Who is your target market and what are the subsections of that market?
- What is the big pain point your product or service solves?
- What is the tangible result your customer’s want from your product/service?
- Where are your ideal customers?
- Tell me about your product and how it works.
- What are the features and benefits of the product?
- How does your product/service differ from your competition?
- What do prospects and customers dislike about your product/service?
- How do you imagine us working together?
- Will I be working with a larger team and who will be my main contact or project manager?
- Do you have regular meetings I need to be a part of?
- What do you like about your current copy?
- What do you dislike?
- What kinds of questions do your customer service team get?
- Do you have a marketing plan for this project and can I see it?
- What does the copy need to do?
- What stage of the marketing funnel is the copy needed for?
- When do you need the final copy by?
- What is the effect on your business if this date can’t be met?
- When do you want to get started?
- What is your budget for this work?
When you have found the best copywriter to work with, it’s time to create a clear and precise brief for them. This should outline exactly what you need to be delivered and provide all the information the writer needs to deliver it. But we can get into how to put together creative briefs another time.
Hiring the best copywriter for your business with the right skills to deliver the kind of perfection you’re looking for takes time. Remember, more experienced writers are in demand and will probably be busy when you reach out. Regular work may increase your chances of hiring the copywriter you want, but that doesn’t mean one-off jobs and shorter projects are doomed to be given to less experienced writers. Give yourself time to hire the best copywriter for your business and for them to fit the work into their schedule. That’s why a content strategy and a content calendar can be such a boon to your company.
Interested in working together? Let’s chat.