It doesn’t matter whether you’re a small business owner creating your first website, or an experienced marketer looking for someone to supplement your existing team – finding the right copywriter can be hard. In an age of remote, flexible marketing solutions, you’re spoiled for choice.
There’s thousands upon thousands of copywriters out there, listed across job sites and search engines, each with their own unique pricing, experience and skillsets. The sheer volume of options can seem overwhelming.
Today, we’re going to break down some of the ways you can identify the right copywriter for your business. As with all contractors, picking the right person for the job means avoiding unnecessary costs, poor-quality work and a whole bunch of headaches, so it’s important that you choose wisely. Let’s get into it.
1. Know exactly what you’re after.
One of the best ways to avoid potential problems is to know exactly what you want done, and why you want it done. For example, if you’re hiring a copywriter to write a product description for your website, you know that:
- You want a product description written.
- You want this product description written in order to boost conversion rates for that particular product, and to improve SEO for that page.
Therefore, you’re not just hiring someone to write a pretty explanation for your product, but also to coordinate with a larger strategy Communicating this to your copywriter is essential for excellent outcomes; a discrepancy in understanding between contractor and client is fatal.
If you’re hiring someone for an in-house position or on a retainer, make sure you inform them of the type of tasks they’ll be expected to complete so there’s no awkward surprises down the track.
It’s also important, from a budgetary perspective, to consider the importance of the project. Theoretically, all projects are important; if it’s not serving a purpose, you shouldn’t be wasting time/money on it.
That said, in the real world, prioritisation is critical, particularly if you’re working with limited resources.
The quality of the copy generally reflects the price you’ve paid for it, so perhaps reserve that very good, very expensive copywriter for projects with the potential for high ROI; if the copy is less important (like non-campaign email copy) or has a limited lifespan with low expected returns, try someone cheaper.
Not sure what to expect because you don’t know much about copywriting at all? Learn everything you need to know by reading our Ultimate Guide to Copywriting.
2. Don’t be deceived by marketing gimmicks.
There’s a trend in the marketing industry to be heavily prescriptive when it comes to classifying various types of copy. People often talk about ‘conversion copy’ and ‘SEO copy’ as though they’re completely unrelated from standard copy, when, truthfully, they’re actually very similar.
Even on our Copywriting page, we break down these ‘different’ varieties, because it’s something clients have come to expect. Consequently, you’ll find a lot of copywriters marketing themselves as ‘brand copywriters’ and ‘conversion copywriters’, leading potential clients to believe there’s a significant difference between them and other ‘normal’ copywriters.
Surprise: there’s not.
Firstly, it’s important to understand the difference between ‘copy’ and ‘content’, because they’re not the same thing, and it’s quite possible that you’ll need to hire different people to write your website copy and your blog posts.
Simply put, copy encourages the reader to take an action (this can range from making a phone call to clicking through to the next web page), while content is a free resource designed to help, entertain or inspire customers (think blog posts and articles).
Secondly, prescriptive classifications like ‘conversion’, ‘SEO’ and ‘branding’ are misleading, because good copy should do all of these things anyway. For example, any copy written for a business should automatically integrate a brand voice, a pre-specified technical style and a generous helping of brand-oriented sentences/CTAs.
Similarly, all copy should convert – if it’s not getting readers to take a desired action, it’s not working. The same goes for SEO-friendly copy; if it’s written for the web, someone (even if it’s not the copywriter themselves) should be coming up with a list of keywords and integrating these organically into the copy.
Direct response copy – where the desired action is immediate and measurable, like a sales letter aiming to get readers to call the business – is a little different.
This is mostly because results are directly measurable, and the selling techniques used are usually more overt than other forms of copy. If you do need a direct response copywriter, make sure you check out their conversion rates on previous projects.
3. Be aware of regional/cultural differences.
Although your copywriter will most likely work remotely, particularly if you’ve employed them for a one-off project, it’s often a good idea to hire someone from the same background as your intended audience.
Even within language groups, regional and cultural differences can result in information being received or interpreted in different manners, so it can be a good idea, where possible, to match your copywriter to your target audience.
That said, most trained copywriters are fairly adept at understanding their audiences and getting inside their heads, so this should be a consideration for you, rather than a requirement.
4. Don’t expect things your copywriter can’t deliver.
This is another issue with the idea of ‘conversion’ and ‘SEO’ copy – because of the misleading nature of these labels, clients start to expect measurable results in these areas.
My advice: be realistic. A well-written product description probably won’t send sales skyrocketing. Good web copy probably won’t send you flying to the first page of Google straight away.
Remember, copywriting works as part of processes. There’s a huge amount of literature discussing this in more detail, but think about it: copy is an essential part of your sales funnel, but it’s not the only part.
There’s lots of other areas where potential conversions could be slipping through the cracks, and these need to be optimised as well, or your excellent copy won’t have much effect.
It’s the same with SEO. Keywords are a critical part of SEO, but there’s also a huge number of other factors that contribute to SERP rankings, like page speed, domain authority, number/quality of backlinks, and so on.
If you’re just looking to improve your SEO, hire an SEO expert, but don’t expect your copywriter to do it, because they’re two completely different skillsets.
5. Check out previous clients.
This is a fairly standard part of the hiring process, but it’s always important to check out your copywriter’s former projects. Review testimonials and see what clients they’ve worked with to get an indication of their work quality.
This article from Lifehacker Australia about checking trade contractors is equally applicable for copywriters. Asking for writing samples is also a good idea; although the majority of a copywriter’s work is either copyrighted (yes, the legal term) or privileged, they’ll probably have some examples on hand which showcase their skills.
Unless you’re looking to engage them long-term, don’t ask them to write a demo piece if you’re not willing to pay for it – it’s the equivalent of asking an electrician to install a few wires free of charge, or a dentist to clean just a couple of your teeth. Most copywriters charge high hourly rates and are extremely busy, so writing free samples for every client simply isn’t feasible.
If you’re looking to hire a copywriter for your website, it’s always a good idea to peruse theirs first.
Bear in mind that all good copywriters can adjust their style and voice, so don’t worry if the writing on their site doesn’t sound the way you’d like yours to – instead, look at the quality of the writing, make sure there aren’t a lot of visible errors, and consider whether you feel ‘sold’ after reading it.
If their own copy isn’t excellent, chances are that they won’t be able to make yours any good either.
6. Don’t get too hung up on degrees.
Obviously, it’s nice to know that your copywriter is smart, but having a host of degrees and certifications is far from the most important thing when hiring. Satisfied clients and actual work samples are the two biggest indicators of skills; there are innumerable examples of academically-skilled graduates entering the workforce and being unable to perform.
Quick Summary: Finding the Right Copywriter
- Know exactly what you’re after.
- Don’t be deceived by marketing gimmicks.
- Be aware of regional/cultural differences.
- Don’t expect things your copywriter can’t deliver.
- Check out previous clients.
- Don’t get hung up on degrees.
There’s a whole host of factors that contribute to successful hiring, but, hopefully, the points I’ve discussed today will act as guidelines for securing a great copywriter, particularly if this is your first rodeo.
If you’re looking for someone to write copy or content for your business, Chevron Editing is an exceptional choice – our Gold Coast copywriters and content creators are skilled at producing beautiful, effective words that act as long-term assets for your marketing.