How to Hire a Freelance Copywriter in 2018 – The Ultimate Guide

On this day, over 2 million blog posts will be published.

And another 2 million tomorrow.

And the next day? You guessed it.

With that much content crowding the internet, you’ll agree that it’s pretty tricky to get your words noticed.

Or is it?

Turns out you can dramatically increase your site’s traffic, lead generation, authority and customers by doing one simple thing: 

Hiring a freelance copywriter.

A talented copywriter will save you time while increasing your bottom line far beyond what you spend to hire her.

So let me walk you through the process of how to find a great copywriter. Along the way, you’ll discover clues that will reveal how good they are and learn what to expect from the process. 

By the end, you’ll be fully equipped to spot copywriting talent from afar. Get an edge on the competition, gain more leads and customers, and start making the big bucks.

1) Do you ACTUALLY need a copywriter?

You can definitely write.

You’ve written tons of emails, docs and presentations every day for as long as you can remember.

Heck, they’re only words after all. Why would you need a to hire a freelance copywriter?

Well – perhaps you don’t.

But if you can relate to any of the following statements…perhaps you do:

  • You don’t have time. You already have a to-do list that you won’t finish this week. Adding a lengthy writing project to that won’t help.
  • Your team doesn’t have time either. They’re almost overwhelmed by their current responsibilities to handle anything extra.
  • Your project deadline is making you sweat and an extra pair of skilled hands will mean you deliver on time. 
  • You’re launching a new product or service and there’s a bunch of promotional writing that needs razor sharp messaging (eg, email copy, sales page copy, social copy, PPC ad copy).
  • Your time is too valuable to be spent writing – especially when you consider your hourly rate and the value you add. The healthy option is to delegate or outsource this project so you can concentrate on growth activities and team management.
  • You have time, but lack the confidence to draft copy that channels customer desire and that sells from the first word to the last.
  • You’re more technically minded and your writing tends to be dry or inaccessible to your average customer.
  • You’re too close to your company’s daily grind. A fresh set of eyes will see your business or product the way customers see it – objectively and without jargon. (HINT: This is one of the most valuable advantages of hiring a freelance copywriter.)
Businesses who best communicate an idea are the ones who win customers. – Seth Godin, Entrepreneur and Online Marketer

You see, writing isn’t a luxury. 

It’s a necessity. 

Any company that owns a website should realise they’re not just merchants – they’re information providers. Why? Because according to this Hubspot report, websites with less than 51 pages rarely rank highly on Google Search.

 Websites with fewer than 51 pages will struggle to rank on Google – Hubspot Report

Websites with fewer than 51 pages will struggle to rank on Google – Hubspot Report

So many companies will spend thousands on a new website design. The eye candy is on point, the sticky header is sticky and it’s all nicely responsive.

And then they throw some DIY words at it and call it a day.

Clearly they don’t realise that design on its own ISN’T valuable to your customers. It doesn’t communicate your message and won’t increase your profits.

Only words have the power to add deep value, inform, persuade and convert.

But wouldn’t it be better to hire an agency?

That entirely depends on your needs.

Agencies provide design, marketing, advertising, social media and copywriting all under one roof. So, if you have a project that goes beyond just copywriting, then sure: hiring a full-blown agency is a great choice. 

Any copy elements will tie in more readily to new design work or customer journeys in your project. And you’ll reduce the number of people you have to deal with.

But what you perhaps don’t know is that agencies will often outsource to freelance copywriters to supply their service.

And as a bigger company with more overheads, an agency is more likely to prioritise their own business growth and continuity. This means that their invoice will include sub-contractor copywriting fees with a healthy mark up.

Alternatively, if your marketing project mainly requires great writing, going direct and hiring a freelance copywriter is the smarter option.

Your choice of professional copywriter will:

  • readily collaborate with your designers, web developers and with other related disciplines.
  • have fewer overheads.
  • charge less money than an agency.
  • provide more bang for your marketing budget’s buck.

Most importantly, a freelance copywriter will care more about maintaining a great relationship with you, her client.

But before you go rummaging the internet to hire your perfect copywriter, it’s a good idea to work out EXACTLY what you need from them.

2) What does copywriting success look like for you?

Why is this step so important?

Because it’s a jungle out there.

Knowing what your campaign’s success looks like will save you time and money in your search for your ideal freelance copywriter.

Right now, I imagine you have a specific project to complete. But it’s wise to deconstruct that project by asking yourself the following:

  • Do I require a landing page, email auto-responder, web page, ad, video?
  • Should this copy add value for customers, create leads or convert prospects?
  • Is the text a linchpin to my sales funnel or just to flesh out an area of my website?
  • Are there any extras I need that would really make this a blockbuster campaign?

These questions will guide you to know what sort of copywriter to search for:

  1. A specialist copywriter is an expert in his field, charging higher rates but has the benefit of specific platform or industry knowledge.
  2. A generalist copywriter is a Swiss army knife writer who can do a bit of everything. His fees might be lower, but a lack of expertise means his writing wouldn’t beat a specialist’s.

For an idea of what the market looks like, a 2017 copywriters survey revealed that 68% of UK freelance copywriters would describe themselves as generalists. And 32% are specialists.

 68% of copywriters surveyed in the UK describe themselves as generalists – ProCopywriters Survey 2017

68% of copywriters surveyed in the UK describe themselves as generalists – ProCopywriters Survey 2017

Like any role, copywriters will be at different stages of career progression. And like almost any service, you get what you pay for:

  • Junior copywriters will likely be generalists. They’re useful for any non-vital project, work for a lower fee and might struggle to meet tough deadlines. But you have the chance to find a diamond in the rough – a determined copywriter focused on learning, and on track to develop great salesmanship in writing. (He needs you more than you need him.)
  • Veteran copywriters will have more years’ experience, an impressive portfolio and testimonials to match. She’ll have a wealth of marketing knowledge and can offer additional consultancy. She will charge a higher fee and will get booked up more quickly. (She needs you as much as you need her.)
  • A-list copywriters are the superstars of the copywriting world. These select few can only be booked months in advance and routinely charge five-figure fees. But if your campaign or promotion demands the best, that’s what it will cost. (You need them more than they need you.)

Finally, there are generally three roles copywriters or content writers fall into: (These lines blur of course.)

  • Content writers or non-advertising writers can write well but have no training in writing to sell. They are great for handling web pages, blog posts, whitepapers or ebooks where you’re adding value and looking to build authority. 
  • Advertising copywriters will know some persuasive techniques, but often focus on the soft-sell. They’ll usually have an agency background, writing clever or witty headlines with a focus on storytelling and/or graphical presentation. They’re a great choice for home pages, email and social media advertising.
  • Direct response copywriters will know written salesmanship tactics and test different persuasive elements (headline, hooks, call to action). Their copy will encourage the maximum number of readers to take action, including lead capture or closing a sale. While they can do all of the above, their speciality is sales letters, cold email campaigns and opt-in pages.

That’s quite a variety, which is why it’s so important to understand what your project requires and what your budget is.

If you’re not sure just yet, the good news is that the next few stages will help outline your needs in more detail.

3) The best places to find your ideal copywriter online

Now you know roughly what you need and what sort of copywriters are out there. 

Here’s a quick overview of the best places to go to hire a freelance copywriter, from the cheapest to the most expensive:

Fiverr.com, Mturk.com, Copify.com

Typical cost: $0.03 to $0.05 per word

You need words on a page written quickly, regardless of quality.

These sites are tend to be known as ‘content mills’. And that’s not always a bad thing. 

If you have thousands of products just needing descriptions, or need a bunch of short blog posts written in the name of no-frills ‘content marketing’, these sites a great place to start.

You’ll rarely speak directly to your copywriters, or even know who wrote the articles. English probably won’t be their first language. But that doesn’t matter because you just need commoditised words which don’t necessarily provide results.

Pros:

  • Cheap
  • Easy and quick to begin your project
  • Fast turnaround

Cons:

  • Poor quality
  • You’ll need to proofread content for spelling, grammar and plagiarism (I’ll cover the tools to use in section 8)

Upwork.com, Freelancer.com, Problogger.com, Craiglist.com

Typical cost: $15 to $100 per project

Time to step up in quality. On the above sites, you’ll communicate directly with your freelance copywriter and they can apply and bid for your project. If you like the experience, you have the chance to work with them again.

Just don’t expect these copywriters to break the internet. But DO expect a higher level of skill, professionalism and the chance to shop around.

Thing is, there are so many poor job descriptions on these sites. By spending 10 minutes to write a decent job description, you’ll attract the higher quality freelance copywriters available:

  • Be specific A 200-word job description will do. Briefly introduce your company and your project’s purpose and scope. It doesn’t hurt to include your website URL to gauge whether applicants bother to look you up before they write their proposal.
  • Outline deliverables A bulleted list is good here. And be realistic. I’m sorry to break it to you, but that $50 article on your main keyword topic? That won’t get you to rank one on Google Search. Show that you understand the work involved.
  • Describe your ideal copywriter A bulleted list of the skills that you’re looking for. These will include keywords that copywriters will use to search and find your job. Then specify the level of expertise you want and whether your ideal candidate needs to have any other qualifications.
  • Presentation is important Although you’re looking for a copywriter, that’s no excuse for poor spelling and grammar. Be professional and write to the standard you’d expect in any proposal.
  • Ask relevant questions These become mini tests to help you find the most qualified copywriter for your project. For example: 
    • What will be the most important element in your copy? And how will you make sure it’s effective?
    • QWhat frameworks do you use to ensure well structured copy?
    • Provide an example of your most successful writing that is closely related to this project.
  • Add lazy copywriter protection Some people on these sites just spam applications to every relevant job post without even reading them. You don’t want someone like that. So at the end of your job description, say “Begin your proposal with the word ”
  • Use the project budget as a placeholder On sites like Upwork, you have to include a budget. Because each writer charges different amounts and you want to be able to negotiate, communicate that your dollar value is placeholder.
TIP: Post your job description on Monday to Thursday. If you post on Friday or the weekend, expect to receive 15 to 20% fewer applicants.

An good example of a copywriting job description:

MyCompany.com needs a women’s fashion copywriter. Blog topics include: workplace fashion, holiday styles and fashion and beauty tips, etc.

You MUST:

  • Be able to write in a conversational tone
  • Produce informative posts
  • Have personable writing style

Here is an example of two articles with the style of writing we are looking for:

  • MyCompany.com/first-example
  • MyCompany.com/second-example

We want blog posts written with 1,500 to 2,000 words.

Send two articles that you feel closely match our writing style. If you don’t have any, send a paragraph within your proposal using the tone we are looking for.

Begin your proposal with the word ‘STILETTO’.

Question 1: What experience do you have writing for the fashion industry?

Question 2: How will your articles be optimised for SEO?

Question 3: Can you provide an example of your most successful piece of content in terms of social engagement?

A bad example of a copywriting job description:

The text on our website is in need of a professional upgrade. That is what we need your help with as a professional copywriter with a vast experience translating text that is technical into understandable stories.

Question 1: How responsible are you on a scale of 1 to 10?

Yep, I’ve actually seen that question on a real description in Upwork…

 Proof that people looking for freelance copywriters sometimes ask silly questions

Proof that people looking for freelance copywriters sometimes ask silly questions

 

The Cult of Copy Facebook Group

Typical cost: $100 to $1,000 per project

This group has strictly two purposes:

  1. Freelance copywriters can share their service
  2. You can share your need for freelance copywriting
 The Pinned Post on the Cult of Copy Job Board

The Pinned Post on the Cult of Copy Job Board

Scroll down and you’ll find a huge variety of copywriters available here. Some offer legitimate niche services and special offers, others just seem to be seeking attention.

You find some bizarre posts in Cult of Copy Job Board.png

Write a post, outlining the job description in a similar way as above. You’ll soon have a dozen PMs (private messages) pouring into your inbox.

The copywriters who contact you will pitch their talent, offer examples of previous related work or refer someone suited to your task. As you continue the conversation, look out for copywriters you connect with and who want to speak on the phone or via Skype.

Why? Because although you may be tempted to hang out on Facebook, professional partnerships start off best by speaking directly.

LinkedIn, ProCopyWriter, Copyhackers and Google Search

Typical cost: Price on application – but usually from $250 to $25,000 per project

If you’re looking for a copywriter to add real value to your business, or a specialised copywriter with a specific niche – Google, LinkedIn and professional copywriting networks will be your best buddies.

By going direct, not only will you increase your chances of finding a copywriter who will partner with your business, you also will get the best value for money. Why?

Because good copywriting – like a good investment – pays for itself many times over, by increasing leads and sales.

  Jeremy Reeves  breaks down the cost of a cheap copywriter vs a better copywriter.

Jeremy Reeves breaks down the cost of a cheap copywriter vs a better copywriter.

To start you want to be clear on who you’re looking for. Broad niches include:

  • Advertising copywriter
  • Content writing, blog posts, thought leadership articles 
  • Conversion copywriting
  • Direct response or sales letter copywriting
  • Email copywriting
  • Press release copywriting
  • UX copywriting
  • Website or landing page copywriting
  • Whitepaper or ebook copywriting

Search these terms and you’ll soon find a healthy list of potential freelancers.

Visit their profile pages, check out their website and portfolio. When you feel you’ve found a match in terms of style and professionalism, ping them a message introducing your company, your project. Ask their availability and what ballpark figure they might charge.

TIP: Some copywriters will have a Google Form or Typeform for you to fill in. That’s a good sign, which will save time to get the ball rolling quicker. 
  Pete Boyle 's conversion copywriting Typeform.

Pete Boyle's conversion copywriting Typeform.

An even better sign is if your preferred copywriter requests a phone or Skype meeting.

Doing so means you’ll exchange far more information than by playing email tennis. Plus, it reveals that the copywriter not only cares about his and your time, but that he wants to have a meaningful business partnership with you.

But what the heck do you say when you pick up the phone? Well, here’s…

4) 5 essential questions you should ask every copywriter you interview

  • What industry experience do you have?
    The more experience copywriters have in your industry niche, the faster they’ll get up to speed with your company, product and customers.
  • Do you have a portfolio? Does that include any before and after examples of your work?
    Every two-bit copywriter will have a portfolio. But not every copywriter has before and after examples of their work. These will quickly show the difference they made for previous clients.
  • Do you have any stats about your copywriting performance?
    Another killer question. Copywriters may be wordsmiths, but they should also have a basic understanding that the impact of their work needs to be reflected in numbers: open rates, click through rates, impressions, shares etc. (Typed numbers are easier to fake than screenshots.)
  • Do you have any other skills?
    This may include style guidelines, tone of voice, content strategy, training others, voice overs, graphic design.
    TIP: Be wary of anyone who touts themselves as an “SEO Specialist”. You want to hire a copywriter who knows ‘some SEO’, rather than an ‘SEO guru’ who knows how to write. Google’s current search algorithms favour great content, centred around topics and relevance – rather simply stuffing text with keywords.
  • What information can I provide you with to help you write copy that makes us both proud?
    Expect a pause after you ask this question.
    Not because the copywriter doesn’t know. But because they’re falling in love with you as a client.

While these questions will help you understand whether your copywriter is up to the task, it’s the questions that THEY ASK YOU that will really show their priorities and talent.

5) 17 deep questions you’ll be asked if you’re about to hire a kick-ass copywriter

The best copywriters can NEVER have too much background on your customers, your product or service. 

For them, receiving answers to the questions that follow will be the most important part of their interaction with you. If you’re speaking over the phone, expect this part of the conversation to take the longest.

That’s because your copywriter’s goal is twofold:

  1. A great copywriter will need to effectively “plug in” to the mindset of your customer, adopting their lingo and their emotions. That’s because copywriting is about building a bridge from the market to your product and not the other way round. It reveals that they want to craft copy that seems as if it’s written specifically for that individual reader.
  2. A great copywriter will seek to acquire more material than they need to write about your product or service. Roughly eight times more in fact. They’ll strive to become as much an expert on what you’re selling as your product manager is. Why is that necessary? Because the most effective copy is a transparent store window – the reader is focused on the view of your product inside. Only details can create this effect.
    If you’re asked the following deep questions, know that you’ve found a switched-on freelance copywriter. And if you answer them in as much detail as possible, you’ll quickly become your copywriter’s favourite client.

General questions

  • What’s your main objective with this copy? Is it to build brand recognition? To qualify leads? To generate sales?
  • Where will this copy appear? And how does this piece fit into your overall marketing strategy?

Customer questions

  • Who is the customer you are targeting? (This is a biggie.) If you have a customer persona or avatar, covering demographics, psychographics, etc, now is the time to share it. The best copywriting is highly targeted for a specific reader, not Joe Public. These are some questions you want to find answers to:
    • The thoughts are buzzing in your customer’s head keeping them awake at night?
    • What makes them scared?
    • What makes them angry?
    • What are their top three daily gripes?
    • What do they secretly desire the most?
  • Do you know any satisfied customers I could speak to? Hearing directly from a customer provides raw insight. The copywriter will learn their personal history and any pain felt before your product or service solved their problem.
  • Are there any online communities/forums where your customers hang out? Do you sell products on Amazon? These are places where your customers will have voiced their problems or opinions. A good copywriter will study their lingo or buzz words to match it in their copy.
  • What product or service feature is most important to the customer?
  • Where are customers on the buying cycle when they see this copy? Are they aware of the problem you’re trying to solve? Have they checked out any of your competitors’ offers?
  • What are customers’ main concerns when buying this type of product? Eg, performance, reliability, quality, price.
  • How many decision makers are involved in the purchase? A new pair of school shoes must appeal to both the parent and the child. A big tender must appeal to procurement and end-users.

Product questions

  • What problem does this product or service solve? How did this problem come about?
  • Why is the product made this way? How is that different from other manufacturing approaches?
  • How does the product work?
  • What is the product’s USP? What are the other important product features?
  • Who else is selling something similar? Where are they selling it?
  • Can you send over any internal or external documentation? This should include company presentations, annual reports, technical documents, previously published product marketing, brand and voice guidelines.
  • Is there anyone else in your company I should speak to? Preferably someone with a strong understanding of where the product came from or how the product works.
  • Is the product guaranteed?
  • Where can a customer buy it?
  • Is there anything else interesting about your product or service? A catch-all question in case there is an unusual nugget of information that will really help to sell your product.

All these questions may seem over the top. But by answering them in detail, the copywriter you hire will have a solid understanding of the project and how best to sell your product or service.

And with that solid understanding, they’ll be best placed to gauge the complexity of the work, write a proposal and quote a price.

6) The secret to negotiating an affordable price for copy.

Wanna know the truth?

Most copywriters aren’t too great at negotiating.

As a seasoned and savvy business person, you’ll almost certainly have the upper hand when it comes to haggling a price. By contrast, copywriters sit and work with words all day. Probably their least favourite interaction with clients is negotiating.

Of course, this depends on the level of experience your chosen freelance copywriter has. You’re probably not going to get much wiggle room when dealing with a senior copywriter whose 20 years’ experience is in high demand.

Have a budget and stick to it. And, if you’re speaking over the phone, use these tips to drive the price down:

  1. Avoid naming a price first Your copywriter will have set their rates based on what they need to make a living. She may ask you about your budget for this project, but deflect this by asking her best price.
  2. Say “ouch” or verbally communicate pain This forces the copywriter onto the defensive and the pressure may force a price reduction straight away.
  3. Exploit their need If you get the feeling that your copywriter needs the work more than you need them, be prepared to push for a lower price or walk away. Of course, this tactic can backfire.
  4. Respect their profession Remember that you’re buying a service that will free up your time and allow you to perform other profitable activities. If your copywriter leaves the negotiation feeling positive, they are more likely to go the extra mile to deliver a great service.

Here’s another good question: per word, per hour or per project?

In a 2017 survey, 58% of copywriters prefer charging per project. And that makes sense for both you and your future copywriter. Why?

 ProCopywriters Survey 2017 preferred charging model.

ProCopywriters Survey 2017 preferred charging model.

Because charging per hour means a faster and more skilful copywriter will receive less money. Clearly, that’s not in their best interest.

At the same time, all you really want to know is a bottom line price. It’s then easier for you to negotiate that price and, if necessary, compare quotes.

With creative services, you get what you pay for. And the truth is: the most expensive copy is the copy that fails because no one reads it.

On the other hand, great copy will make you more money by engaging readers, persuading them and delivering the results you need.

If you have the choice between buying more blogs, emails, or ads from a cheaper copywriter, or buying fewer pieces of copy from a better copywriter, choose the latter. It’s a better investment.

7) A step-by-step guide through the writing process.

Everyone’s process is different.

But this shouldn’t stop your freelance copywriter from communicating clearly and managing your expectations.

NOTE: If you’re hiring a freelance copywriter through platforms like Fiverr, Upwork, Freelancer or Copify, they will handle any service level agreements between you and your copywriter.

For work outside these sites, here’s a brief overview of practical the stages involved for writing compelling copy:

Legalities Once you’ve agreed the price, project scope, deliverables and deadline, expect your copywriter to confirm everything in an email or document to you. 

This provides a solid starting point that you both agree on. It’s a good sign if that document contains terms and conditions as well, including a non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement, intellectual property ownership, channels of communication and project kill fees (ie, the cost of cancelling the project part way through).

Deposit Copywriters who value their time will ask for a deposit paid upfront – usually 50% of the full cost. It means you’re both serious about this agreement. You’re financially committed and your copywriter commits to devoting their time solely to you.

Outlines For a complex project, ask for an outline. You’ll then receive a solid framework for approval, to ensure the copywriter is on the right track. It’s always best to communicate necessary corrections early on.

Writing Your chosen copywriter now goes away for a while to do his job. 

You may have paid your deposit, you may wonder what’s going on. But try not to micro-manage or ask for early drafts. If you’re convinced that you’ve hired the right freelance copywriter for the job, give them the creative freedom to do it.

Because behind the scenes he is researching, getting into your customer’s mindset, thinking creatively, translating ideas into a language your customer understands. All with one purpose: to write compelling copy that will bring you more leads, customers and sales.

Revisions Don’t expect the first draft it to be 100% aligned with what you imagined. Copywriters aren’t psychics. This means it’s likely that the initial copy will require a few tweaks or bigger changes. But no worries: freelance copywriters usually factor in a round or two of revisions into their quote.

Finished copy An invoice and your carefully crafted text will arrive in your inbox, before or on the day of the deadline. It’s time publication.

8) Tips and tools on how to critique the first draft

Not everyone feels confident to critique a copywriter’s first draft.

(But shhh…your copywriter doesn’t need to know that.)

Here are some free tools available to help make sure the basics are right. These are especially useful if you’ve hired a cheaper copywriter via Fiverr, Upwork or Copify:

  • Grammarly is like Microsoft Word spell check on steroids. Copy and paste, or upload the text to this service. It will scan it and suggest any grammatical or spelling improvements that can be made. Note: the service using American English spelling.
 Grammarly will find spelling and grammatical mistakes in your copywriter's copy

Grammarly will find spelling and grammatical mistakes in your copywriter's copy

 

  • ReadabilityFormulas provides another free service, this time checking readability. Again, copy and paste up to 3,000 words to check whether the text reading difficulty is appropriate for your audience.
 Find out the results of your freelance copywriter's text using ReadabilityFormulas.

Find out the results of your freelance copywriter's text using ReadabilityFormulas.

 

  • Quetext will freely check your copy for plagiarism against 35 billion web pages. If you’re using a cheaper copywriting service, this is always useful to ensure the text your paying for isn’t stolen or slightly adjusted from a different source. Just create a free account, copy/paste and wait while it scans.
 Quetext checks your copy for plagiarism.

Quetext checks your copy for plagiarism.

  • SEOBook Keyword Density Analyzer is a simple tool to (surprise, surprise) check keyword density. This tool’s usefulness is limited for SEO. Google has moved away from keywords as a ranking factor, preferring instead site authority and usage data. But with that pinch of salt, you can still compare your copy with competitors’ articles.
 Keyword Density Checker copy and paste

Keyword Density Checker copy and paste

 Keyword Density Checker results

Keyword Density Checker results

 

Beyond these tools, here’s a bread and butter checklist to ensure your copywriter’s draft is on track to be engaging and readable:

  • Headline – A great headline will determine whether anyone bothers to read your copy. It should grab attention by appealing to the reader’s self-interest or curiosity.
  • Personality – Imagine you’re listening to a good friend speak about a subject they’re passionate about. The tone should be engaging, energetic and conversational – using ‘you’ and ‘I’.
  • Structure – Ideas should follow each other in a logical structure, with a beginning, middle and end. The most interesting and engaging part of the message should be right at the start.
  • Flow – Discourage the reader from skim reading or skipping sections. Sentences and paragraphs should be linked with connecting words and phrases, eg “because”, “and”, “in addition”, “moreover”.
  • Formatting – Subheadings, bullets, short paragraphs, bold, italics. All of these divide up the text into more readable chunks.
  • Fluff-free – Other than typing words, your copywriter’s main job is research. This should be clear in your copy, with facts backed up by their source.
  • Images and media – No one wants to read a wall of text. And while it may not be your copywriter’s primary job, suggestions of images or media to use shows that they are thinking about engagement and presentation.

If your copy has all that, you’ve at least hired a freelance copywriter who knows the basics.

Perhaps you do feel confident critiquing the copy. If so, the WORST feedback you can provide is “I don’t like it, try again”, or “when it’s right, I’ll know”. 

 Not being specific about what improvements are needed can make your copywriter sigh...

Not being specific about what improvements are needed can make your copywriter sigh...

Instead be honest and specific about what hasn’t been communicated and the changes that need to be made. Perhaps an expression doesn’t match your style. Maybe you’d prefer to emphasise a different idea.

TIP: Using Microsoft Word’s ‘Track Changes’ or ‘Suggest Edits’ in Google Docs saves a lot of time when commenting on a document.
 How to turn on Microsoft Word's Track Changes.

How to turn on Microsoft Word's Track Changes.

 

Equally, respect your copywriter’s skills that may have been forged over many years. 

If he has conducted thorough market and product research, and feels strongly that a certain emphasis or idea will be more effective, stay open to their suggestions. After all, hiring a freelance copywriter is an opportunity to receive a new objective viewpoint.

As veteran copywriter John Carlton says: “Great copy almost always takes you out of your comfort zone.”

And if you’ve commissioned hard-selling or conversion copy, you don’t always have to like the ad for it to be persuasive to your prospects.

9) 5 huge warning signs that you should find another copywriter.

Most freelance copywriters are highly skilled, professional and always seek to keep their clients. But with the market being such a big basket of eggs, you still possible to find some bad ones.

So just in case – here are some warning signs to watch out for:

  1. Missed deadlines This should be a dealbreaker for you. Professional freelance copywriters know the time it takes to turn around great copy. They should also be able to balance their workload to meet deadlines. On the flip side, if major revisions are necessary beyond those built into your agreement, expect the copywriter to clearly request a deadline extension.
  2. Personality clash Creative collaboration requires a healthy working relationship. While you don’t have to end up as best friends, there should be some chemistry between you. If dealing with the freelance copywriter you’ve hired consistently causes you stress, it’s best to look elsewhere.
  3. Lack of flexibility Within reason, your copywriter should be flexible to your wishes and seek to keep you as a happy customer. That includes respecting your feedback and being open to adjusting the project’s scope if necessary. That doesn’t include unlimited free revisions till you’re happy.
  4. Lack of communication If your copywriter goes silent for days on end without answering your voicemail or replying to your email – that’s a bad sign. You could hire a freelancer who values you more as a client.
  5. Telling lies In an effort to ‘sell’ themselves and gain more business or money from you, a minority of freelance copywriters might be economical with the truth. You’ll know it when you hear it. For example, an sneaky copywriter might tell you he’s busy but could ‘fit you in’ if you pay a premium. Another might say that hiring a ‘cheap’ copywriter is the most expensive mistake you could make – and that’s not always true either. Avoid these types like the plague.
  6. BONUS TIP: Trust your intuition You wouldn’t be in your current role without having a healthy dose of intuition. It’s more powerful than you think. In fact, it will pick up on these key warning signs long before your conscious mind does. So if there’s some smidgen of doubt in your mind about the trustworthiness of your freelance copywriter, either challenge them about it or walk away. Ultimately, you want to find a copywriter that you trust fully and who shows all the signs that they’re wanting a long-term business partnership that lasts for years.

And encouraging that longevity is what we’ll cover next…

10) How to keep hold of a killer copywriter to make more money

My hope is that you’ll hire a freelance copywriter whose work never fails to meet your goals and bring business-boosting results.

If you’re onto a winning partnership, here are some tips to keep your copywriter purring:

Be on time

Most freelance copywriting is done remotely. This means you’ll be scheduling phone or Skype meetings to communicate. Although you may have a hectic day and be juggling 100 things at once, by showing up to meetings on time communicates you value your copywriter’s time too.

Fast sign off

Sure, there will be an approval process for any meaningful new copy. While it goes round Board members, company owners or even lawyers, don’t leave your freelance copywriter hanging or waiting for revisions that may or may not come. Streamline the process and stay communicative so you can release your copywriter from her duty in good time.

Prompt payment

When you receive the final version of your commissioned copy, an invoice will be attached, stating the terms of payment. Usually this is between 15 to 30 days. By having any necessary paper work in place (purchase orders, etc.) encourage your accounts team to pay the invoice quickly. Doing so will mean you’ll quickly become your copywriter’s favourite client.

Testimonials

Copywriters love a good pat on the back. In a 2017 survey, 68% of UK copywriters said they value client feedback the most – even above getting paid.2 Most copywriters will ask for a testimonial by email or LinkedIn. Glowing words of appreciation are not only a source of warm fuzzy feelings, but also help in promote their freelance copywriting business.

Introduce your team

Instead of working in isolated silos, encourage collaboration with other members on your team. Your copywriter will feel more integrated. For example, if your freelance copywriter and in-house designer work together, the strength of your overall message will be dramatically improved. Copywriters also work well with web developers, social media marketers and brand managers. 

Retainers / stipends / royalties

There are few better ways to retain a freelance copywriting talent than by offering ongoing work. By providing that extra financial security, your hired copywriter will have more time to devote to your projects, rather than needing to look for other work. Royalties are also often paid to direct response copywriters who will feel appreciated and come back for more work.

Closing thoughts

By now another few thousand more blog posts have been published.

But thankfully, you’re equipped to hire a freelance copywriter skilled to cut through that clutter and improve your bottom line.

As such this simple decision remains one of the best investments you can make for your business today. 

With clear communication and the right attitude, these skilled freelancers will partner with you to:

  • Save you time
  • Sharpen how your business expresses itself
  • Communicate your products and services more clearly 
  • Increase the number and quality of your leads
  • Nurture prospects over time
  • Bag more sales and more profit

As Nick Usborne said back in 2000: 

“Words are the last and best way to differentiate yourself online.”