20 Things to Know BEFORE You Hire a Copywriter

before you hire a copywriter

How do you know you’ll get quality work when you hire a copywriter from the freelance community? 

One thing I’ve noticed in my 10+ years as a professional writer is there’s a lot of confusion about my industry. I’ve been working as a full-time freelancer since 2014, and it appears copywriters have popped up on every corner. It’s like walking through a crowded market where people scream out, “BUY FROM ME! THIS IS THE BEST PRODUCT AROUND! THE CHEAPEST IN THE WORLD!”

It’s a madhouse in the freelance writing world. Hiring a copywriter shouldn’t make you feel like you need to hire a bodyguard. You shouldn’t feel the need to chain your wallet or doubt yourself. There are good people out there who offer fair prices for this work, so here are 20 things you should know BEFORE you hire a copywriter. It’ll help you find one who’s worth every penny:

1. Know the difference between copywriting, content writing, and blogging.

Copywriters use the science of selling and storytelling frameworks to generate leads and sales. The primary goal of blogging and content writing is to inform, engage, and delight the audience.

hire a copywriter goals

2)  Be specific about your needs.

Do you need to sell or inform? Do you need to get a sale or a lead, more social engagement, or more foot traffic? Do you need to scale or maintain your level of revenue growth? Try creating a SMART goal using the formula below. Once you know this, you can narrow down what you need to hire a copywriter.

Goal Formula: To so that <who/what?> will <increase/decrease this much> by as measured by .

Example Goal: To increase traffic to my e-commerce website so that sales will increase by 30% by Dec. 31, as measured by the number of online purchases from Jan. 1 – Dec. 31.

You’d Need: SEO content writing for social media, website, and blog; copywriting for ads, promotional materials, email campaigns, and landing pages. They are NOT the same skill set, though equally important.

3.  Consider the skill levels of your copywriter.

If you don’t know anything about what you need or how to go about reaching that SMART goal, aim for someone with an advanced, versatile skill set; however, someone who is totally familiar with the topic could hire an entry-level writer.

4.  Create a reasonable budget.

Please stop asking U.S.-based copywriters and content writers to work for pennies. That kind of budget will attract bottom feeders and foreign imposters. That sounds like paranoia, but you’d be surprised. Professional writers don’t just tell stories to sell and entertain; they become a part of the saga. We meet your customer, the hero, where they are in the plot, and guide them through to sale, ease them into loyalty, and offer new scenarios and adventures down the road.

Remember, you get what you pay for, so if you’re looking to spend less than $50/hour, you risk hiring a copywriter who may not be committed to the profession. A bad writer can cost you a lot of money in the long run. Businesses spend more than $3 billion on remedial writing training every year because a third of the workforce are poor writers.

5.  Ask for the best quote.

If you’re shopping around and asking for quotes, expect the numbers to be all over the board. Instead, try asking for their best quote on your project. Provide them with a budget range of what you think it would cost. If you allow the pro to gauge and guide the project in this way, you’ll not only get a fair price, but you’ll also see the copywriter’s project management skills and industry knowledge.

6.  Consider offering the potential for partnership.

Freelance copywriters are always looking for long-term clients. Not only is the work more profitable, but it also helps your sales. Customers want to engage with a consistent message and style from a brand or company they can trust.

7.  Ask for examples or a portfolio to review.

This one is a given but see No. 8.

8.  Don’t focus too much on your copywriter having experience in your niche.

A predominant trait of a pro writer is someone who can write about anything that can be personally experienced, observed, or researched. What matters is their passion for your product or service and their desire to succeed.

Versatile copywriter on social media

9.  Look for versatile writers with experience in several industries and styles.

Someone who calls themselves a copywriter but only writes blog posts will be of little use to you if you need copy that sells.

10.  Copywriting is a science.

If the copywriter you want to hire can’t explain this concept to you in 3-5 sentences, they’re not someone you want to hire. Here’s my explanation in one sentence: Copywriting uses data and people analytics, buying behaviors, and market research to target keywords and messaging that inspires a specific action.

11.  Look for avid and passionate readers and storytellers.

We know how to structure a message so that it tells a relatable story. Think of a copywriter as the person who writes the synopsis for a book. By using unique storytelling frameworks developed by some of the greatest experts in history, copywriters can place your customer as the hero and help them see the value in buying from you.

12.  Do a discovery project before you hire a copywriter for a long-term partnership.

Choose 2-3 small projects or one big project to determine if this writer is what you need. Most freelancers are (or should be) happy to oblige.

13.  Make sure you have a realistic timeline.

If you need a 25-page sales letter, then you’ll need to expect a few days and a round or two of edits. If you need something shorter, like a digital ad campaign and landing page, then the copywriter will need just a few hours. Ask them to provide approximate turnaround time when you request their best quote!

14.  Consider the medium when creating your writing projects.

Social posts shouldn’t be written like a social ad, and website pages shouldn’t be written like a blog.

15.  Some people like to ask for references.

I don’t usually get this request, but I’m always happy to give them; however, I believe reference checks are a colossal waste of time. The real tells are in the discovery project.

16.  Don’t work on a handshake.

Get your project, deliverables, cost, and agreement in writing. Make sure you have a contract that says the materials belong to you to do with as you please.

17.  Provide a reasonable amount of info for them to do their job.

Don’t overload the copywriter or content writer with dozens of documents. Unless the project is large and you’ve agreed to compensate the writer for those hours of research, don’t bog them down with all your research data. Give them an abstract of your findings.

Hiring a freelance copywriter

18.  Writing isn’t easy.

Expect a round or two of edits and be kind to your writer. We’re proud creatures who love the art of using words to sell, engage and entertain. We’re good at it, too. We wouldn’t presume to walk into your business and tell you what you were doing wrong, so we would all appreciate that kindness in return.

19.  Be sure to do your due diligence.

Research the platform and copywriter. Google his or her name and search for what other people are paying for similar services. Google is a vast resource; use it to your advantage.

20.  Give your writer what they need and get out of their way.

Copywriters and content specialists thrive on autonomy and are incredibly self-sufficient. Don’t make them spend too much time on calls and emails, and don’t make them hunt you down to answer questions. Time is money. Be precise and let them get to work.

As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when you go to hire a copywriter. If you like the way I wrote that and want to see more of my work, please click around. Otherwise, would you like to talk about your project?  Get in touch!