If you’ve decided to work with a freelance copywriter as opposed to a full-service marketing firm or ad agency, you’ll want to be sure to hire the right person for the job. Here are some pointers to keep in mind when hiring freelance copywriters:
Before you even begin searching for freelance copywriters, you should have a clear picture of what you need. You’ll want to create a detailed description that defines the parameters of your project and your expectations.
When you begin interviewing freelance copywriters to choose one for your job, expect that they’ll ask you questions that will help them define the project, determine its level of complexity and quantify the amount of work needed so they can give you an accurate quote.
As in many professions, freelance copywriters often have specialties. Some excel at writing websites and sales brochures while others are experts at writing press releases and sales letters. Also some copywriters may have specialized expertise in writing for certain industries or type of businesses such as a manufacturing company versus a service provider.
Another consideration should be the skill level required to complete your job. A veteran copywriting professional with a marketing background and proven experience in the type of writing you need will bring more value to the table but will also cost more.
Most freelance copywriters will be delighted to show you examples of their work. Many writers even post their portfolio right online at their websites.
Look at the work of the writers you’re considering and select someone with a writing style that suits your needs.
Many freelance copywriters can provide you with written references or testimonials from clients regarding the quality of their work. Some post their reviews right on their own website. If you don’t see any posted, then feel free to ask for a list of references to call yourself.
Creating copy for a project can be an intensive process and can take anywhere from a few days to a few months. During that time you and your production team will likely have numerous occasions to interact with your freelance copywriter. Wouldn’t you prefer to work with someone you like? It will make the experience enjoyable rather than stressful.
Try to get a sense of the copywriter’s personality when considering her for the job. Someone who is personable, sensitive to your needs and a good listener will be the best fit. And if your freelance copywriter has a sense of humor, that’s a great added bonus that could make working on your project fun!
Is your project a one-off? Or do you plan to have additional marketing projects for which you’ll need copy in the future?
Ideally, if you can find a freelance copywriter with whom you click, you’ll want to return to her for all your copywriting needs. After the first project, you won’t have to spend time getting her up to speed on your business. Furthermore, she can help you develop a consistent “voice” in your copy that helps build your company’s brand.
Determine how much you can spend. Have a range in mind for what you’re willing to pay, but keep in mind that with copywriting, as with most creative services, you often get what you pay for.
Of course, hiring a freelance copywriter is going to be more expensive than doing the work yourself, but the benefit should be better, more effective copy, not to mention the time you’ve freed up to work on other aspects of your business. A good copywriter won’t cost you money; she’ll make you money by delivering the results you seek!
Before starting your project, you’ll want to know up front what you’re getting into. Some freelance copywriters will quote an hourly rate. Most, however, will give you a project quote, taking into account not only the hours needed to do the job but also the complexity of the work.
Be sure you get the quote in writing and clearly define what the quote includes. One sticking point is often rewrites. Ask the copywriter how she/he handles revisions.
Keep in mind that if the parameters of the project change or the scope of the project increases, your copywriter will likely inform you that she’ll need to charge more than the original quote.
Every copywriter has her own method of getting up to speed on a project and making her way to the finish line. You’ll want to choose someone who operates in a fashion you like.
Some writers start the process by requiring their clients to fill out a long questionnaire that will provide them with background about your company and your objectives for the particular project. The problem with that technique is that many clients who hire a copywriter don’t like writing. So asking them to write answers to essay questions can bring the entire process to a halt.
An alternative to a questionnaire is an interview either by phone or in person. Your copywriter should ask a lot of questions. She’s not a mind reader and she certainly doesn’t know as much about your industry and business as you do. So provide meaningful answers to help her understand your perspective.
Some writers will also request to see any previous marketing materials for your company to become familiar with your style and branding. The more they know, the better will be the first draft of copy. As for revisions, give clear, specific feedback to keep the process moving forward toward a successful completion.
Consider your audience. Who will ultimately be reading the copy? Is it a layperson or someone with a high level of expertise? What media are you using?
For example, website copy is usually written in a friendly, conversational tone while technical manuals use more sophisticated language that presume the reader already has a solid knowledge base on the subject matter.
What is it you want prospects to ultimately do after reading your copy? Do you want them to just have a better understanding of your product, or do you want them to click on the “Buy Now” button? Be sure to discuss your marketing strategy with your freelance copywriter.
Providing your freelance copywriter with the information she needs to do your job correctly is imperative. But don’t go overboard.
If you micro-manage the project, you’ll stifle the writer’s creativity. Give her the creative freedom to do what she does best — produce incredible copy.
The most effective marketing materials are those in which both the design and copy complement each other. The various elements should work together to communicate the same message and support your branding objectives.
Don’t isolate your vendors. Your copywriter and your designer should be willing to collaborate as needed to create their best combined work.
Establish a rough timeline for your project. Break complicated jobs into pieces or phases, each with its own deadline. Those benchmarks will help you keep tabs on the project and ensure it’s progressing the way you want.
If the deadline you set is absolutely inflexible for whatever reason, be sure you communicate that to the copywriter up front. Be advised that many freelance copywriters will charge extra for rush jobs.
If your project is long or complicated, ask the copywriter to provide an outline or to share with you her approach. This way you can be sure the writer is on the right track and prevent major errors from being made.
Expect that the first draft of copy you receive will not be 100% perfect. Copywriters are not mind readers. There’s always going to be some give and take between the writer and client. If you’ve selected the right person and clearly defined the project, the revisions will be relatively minor.
Take a look at the writer’s first draft and explain what areas you like and which you think need more work. It’s not enough to say, “I don’t like it. Try again.” Be specific.
Good copywriters know how to keep their ego out of the process and should accept your suggestions as constructive criticism aimed at making the final product the best it can be.
Most professional copywriters really do know their stuff. Get the most for your money by listening to their suggestions and giving thoughtful consideration to their ideas.
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Need help with your writing project? Hire an experienced freelance copywriter. Contact Susan Greene today!