Written By: Leah Roper
But the more you research working with a copywriter, the more unsure you become. Article after article fills your screen about why you shouldn’t hire a copywriter. The horror stories of copywriter/client relationships going up in flames are horrifying. And the idea of investing in someone who doesn’t deliver is a hardcore buzzkill.
You know quality copywriters are out there. You see their amazing work in other thriving businesses. So how do you tell the good copywriters from the bad? 1 How can you be sure they’re going to deliver quality work?
It’s simpler than you might think – if you learn to look for the red flags.
Don’t fall victim to the content marketers who give copywriting a bad rep. Grab your notebook and settle in. We’re diving into all the things you need to know about working with a quality freelance copywriter.
First, let’s make sure you’re clear about what copywriters do. To put it simply, copywriters write the words your business needs to grow.
No, this isn’t the same as content writing. Copywriters write with the intention to call your audience to act. Whether that’s purchasing your products/services or watching your latest cat video. The call to action is the biggest difference between copywriting vs content writing.
Copywriter, Jacob McMillen, defines a copywriter as:
Someone who is paid to write “copy” – words designed to prompt action.
But wherever there’s successful copy there’s an impressive behind-the-scenes checklist. Quality copywriting requires:
Copywriting takes on many shapes and forms within a business.
...you name it.
Those blogs you look to for the latest scoop? Yup, even those.
See, everyone who runs a successful business knows their marketing isn’t about them. It’s all about your audience. And your audience loves content.
Stats from Quora Creative claim:
3 out of 4 consumers prefer informative content over an advert to learn about a product or brand. And that, for content marketing, conversion rates are six times higher than other marketing techniques. 3
What does that mean for you as a business owner?
Copywriting puts your audience’s needs where they should be – first.
Addressing your audience’s pain-points is huge for your online authority.
You become the go-to in your industry when you continuously provide relevant information. And you know what that means…business growth!
But your audience isn’t the only one copywriters write for… You know that tricky SEO stuff? Yeah, the search engine optimization you wrestle with? Copywriters do that too.
They write for your Google ranking.
They use keywords and marketing strategies to boost your online visibility.
They keep up with the latest algorithm changes – making sure you’re ranked appropriately with Google.
You can see how working with a copywriter saves you from a huge marketing headache. They research and write. And you continue doing what you do best – run your business. All while your income continues to rise. It’s a win-win.
That is to say, if you have a high-quality copywriter… Let’s unpack what to expect from a good copywriter.
It's easier to recognize a good copywriter when you’re familiar with their qualities.
What do I mean by a good copywriter? Someone who delivers effective copy, yes. But also someone who wants to help you succeed.
Finding a copywriter is easy, however finding a copywriter who...
... is priceless.
It should be clear from the get-go that your copywriter’s priority is helping you reach your goals.
A good copywriter takes the time to understand your marketing needs – wherever you are in your business journey. They know you’re an individual with goals unique to who you are. That means cookie-cutter interactions and deliverables [insert, content mills] are a hard-pass.
To recognize a quality copywriter pay attention to their work process.
Take their emails for example. Read between the lines:
Every freelance copywriter has a work process unique to them, true. But the good ones share these 5 common characteristics:
In a nutshell, a great copywriter inspires motivational hell yeah’s and showers their clients with value. Any red flags are wayyy easier to identify in so-so copywriters when you learn what to expect from a good one.
And trust me, when you find a great copywriter, you’ll never go back.
When it comes to copywriter/client interactions – the more questions asked the better. Most questions take place during the initial consultation or discovery call. And no, I don’t mean you asking them all the questions. This isn’t a job interview after all.
Two of the biggest hurdles I’ve found with new client/copywriter consultations:
Freelance copywriters are business owners providing you their services. It’s part of their job to ask everything they need to know about you and your business.
How else are they supposed to write copy on point with your goals and brand?
If you come across a freelancer who hands you radio silence on your consultation call – run, don’t walk, my friend. Because it’s likely they don’t have all the info they need to deliver the copy you need.
On the flip side, it’s super beneficial for you and the copywriter if you know how to answer their questions. Because, there’s nothing that makes a client/copywriter relationship go south faster than not being in agreement about what you’re going to do. And I get it – it’s easy to get tongue-tied when you’re put on the spot. That’s why familiarizing yourself with these questions can help you prepare.
How much you pay a freelance copywriter depends on three things.
There is no universal one-size-fits-all fee that copywriters use. Let’s burst that bubble right away. Every freelancer charges differently. Experience, range of services, and industry-specialization all determine how much you’ll pay. Regardless of what average cost per word you might see pop up on a Google search.
But believe it or not, this works to your advantage. How?
Because some copywriters write for any businesses where others specialize in specific industries. Like yours.
If a freelance copywriter already understands your niche, it means they’re passionate about what you’re doing. They’ll be more motivated and less overwhelmed studying about your business before coming up with copy.
The same thing goes for types of copy. Say you need someone to only write nurture emails. You guessed it – there’s a copywriter for that. One with pricing catered to what you need.
And you might be thinking, well that’s great but how do you approach working with a copywriter who’s out of your budget?
Like I mentioned before, a good copywriter is going to work within your budget as best as they can. Giving you a clear game-plan that tackles your to-do lists, budget-friendly. In fact, most offer subscription or bundle prices for this.
Does this mean you should ask them to lower their prices or to give you extra discounts?
In a word – no. Just as you pick a copywriter who’s right for you, copywriters also choose clients right for them. By asking them to lower their prices you’re demeaning their work and throwing shade on your own client reputation... Awkward.
That’s why it's smart to sit down and get real about how much you can invest in your marketing beforehand. Most copywriters layout their rates and services online for your convenience. Do some digging and see if your budget aligns with their rates before you reach out.
Now to answer the big question I hear so often... why is copywriting so expensive?
My answer is simple, it’s not. Here’s why.
Copywriting isn’t another trivial business expense. It’s an investment. An investment with long-term profits that far outway the cost of the copy itself. When you pay for copywriting, you’re investing in the future of your business.
You’re also investing in the hard work and research of your copywriter. That’s why it’s key to make sure you’re working with a pro who’s going to deliver.
You get what you pay for couldn’t ring truer with marketing.
If you know anything about Google’s ranking system, you’ll know this is a big fat lie. A copywriter can only estimate the timeframe of your SEO results. And it isn’t immediate. If you hear this from a copywriter, then proceed with caution. Google ranking can take up to 3-6 months 8 before you notice any changes.
While client-confidentiality is totally a thing – a lack of portfolio is not. Writers know they’re gauged by the quality of their work. They need to have something out there to show prospective clients. Whether that’s unpublished work or a personal blog. Even a beginning copywriter has work to show.
Be wary of copywriters who want to jump into a large project with you right off the bat. Most freelancers want to build trust with new clients as much as they want to make sure you’re a good fit. They’ll propose a small-scale project as a way to test the waters. Sometimes they’ll even require 50% of the fee upfront and 50% upon completion for good measure.
In today’s market, an English degree is nice, but not necessary for quality copywriting. In fact, most copywriters have to unlearn what was taught in school to write copy. Effective copy is relatable and direct with no fluffy extras or extravagant thesis statements.
Ahem, bull-crap. Of course, you should block out time for edits. This is how you tell if the copy is on point with your brand and is targeting your goals. A freelance copywriter offers usually 1-2 rounds of edits. Because they want you to be happy with their work. So give them as much feedback as possible.
A client-call or consultation is key for quality work. Yes, you can communicate only through email but it’s likely some things will be lost in translation. Your copywriter needs to know your goals, audience analytics, and more before they can start writing. If they don't take the time to know your business, you can expect copy that fails to deliver.
Like with most businesses, testimonials are everything. Especially for a freelancer. It raises an eyebrow when there’s zero praise or reviews. Be cautious and do your homework before starting a project with no references.
A quality copywriter cannot snap their fingers and create effective copy on-a-dime. It takes research, brainstorming, and more research to write what they do. That requires time. Especially when balancing many clients. Don’t be wary of a copywriter with a full schedule – that means they’re doing something right.
News-flash, you don’t want to sell to anyone. You want to sell to your ideal clients. Don’t be sold on a promise of profiting from everyone – it’s not possible with one piece of copy. Your business has an audience you’re trying to target to reach your goals. Stick to your guns.
Not all projects or clients are created equal. Where some might need extensive research and length, others not as much. Like I said before, you get what you pay for. My advice, steer clear of flat-rates and find a copywriter willing to work with your budget.
Now that you know what to look for, identifying a quality copywriter won’t feel so impossible.
When you’re ready to hire, listen to your intuition and look out for those red flags.
If the answer is yes!, congrats, you’ve got yourself a good copywriter – it’s hiring time!
Watch as they combine their word-wizardry with your goals and voila! Your business is booming and your audience can't get enough. Mission accomplished.
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