Avoid Paying for Poor Content with these Simple Search and Hiring Techniques
Hiring copywriters and other freelance content providers is nothing like hiring a potential new employee. These providers, though they work for you, are often more skilled at what they do and have areas of specialization that you just wouldn’t look for in a regular employee. While a Master’s Degree in business management and the proven ability to successfully lead other employees might be the perfect attributes to look for in a new hire, those skills would be worse than useless in a copywriter–they’d be counterproductive!
While any copywriter you hire should be versatile enough to work with various departments and employees within your organization, their main goal is (and should be) to deliver the content you require on time, on target, and on budget. Nothing more. Nothing less.
So, when it comes to finding and vetting potential service providers, you may be a little uncomfortable and out of your element. The 7 questions below are the most important questions you can ask any outsourced service provider before you ever agree to hire them. They apply to copywriters, website developers, marketing gurus, and even graphic designers. Just insert your service provider’s title in when you see “copywriter.”
Don’t ever pay for poor content again! Doing a little legwork before you ever shell out the cash will save you time, hassle, and headaches.
1) What experience do you have marketing products like mine?
While it may be tempting to ask “how long have you been a copywriter?” don’t! Length of practice has nothing to do with the quality of the product they can deliver.
Always ask for specific examples, especially of work done for clients who may share your pool of prospects (not necessarily your competition), projects similar to the one you propose, and presentations in the media of your choice—you wouldn’t hire a copywriter who has been exclusively writing audio scripts for phone trees to put together a sales letter, would you?
2) Can I see samples?
This point goes along with the first. Always ask for samples. Samples give you a concrete idea of what the copywriter you’re thinking of hiring has done and are the most accurate assessment of what they can do for you.
The samples your content provider shows you may not be exactly what you are looking for but if you can spot the merit within the sample you can find ways to apply that to your project. However, many business owners and individuals ask for samples hoping for something that they can copy or imitate. This is an extremely bad practice—your marketing should always be fresh and unique!
Most professional copywriters have latched onto the Internet as an excellent way to market their services. Many have online portfolios you can browse by simply visiting their website.
3) Are you offering revisions?
Copywriters should always include some sort of provisions for revisions based on your feedback. You’re paying for the product and therefore you should get a product you feel comfortable paying for! (Keep in mind that you are the customer in the relationship and the customer is always right.)
Each copywriter is a little different in respect to revisions. They may offer unlimited revisions for a period of time or a certain amount of revisions without any regard to time. It’s important for you to understand what exactly it is you’re purchasing. And don’t assume that just because a copywriter you’ve worked with in the past offered unlimited revisions on one project that they will extend the offer to the next project. Revision policies often vary depending on the type of copy required.
Keep in mind that after a certain qualification has been met (the number of specified revisions being used up or the timeline for requesting revisions having been reached) you may have to pay for additional ones.
4) Can you work within my deadline?
As a general rule, a freelance copywriter won’t take on a project that they can’t complete within the given deadline. It is bad form to miss a deadline and customer service is essential for outsourcers—their paycheck depends on their reputations! However, be sure that the content provider you hire understands the specifics of your deadline. (And that you do too!)
If your advertisement needs to be at the magazine editor’s office on Tuesday, makes sure your content provider is going to get you the copy in enough time for you to request (and receive) revisions, marry it to the graphics, and get it to the magazine.
5) Do you have a client list (or testimonials)?
The best way to judge the copy of a writer is to see what previous clients have had to say about that person’s work. If the copywriter you’re thinking of hiring doesn’t have any positive endorsements, you might think of hiring someone else.
Also, take a moment to look at the actual client list. Do you recognize any names? Are any of them from within your industry? Are they famous? Reputable? Noteworthy?
If you’d like to know more about a specific client or project, just asks. Chances are the service provider will be more than happy to discuss it with you. However, keep in mind any non-disclosure agreements the provider has had to sign may inhibit them from providing details.
6) Do you charge hourly or by the project? (And how Much?)
While your budget may be one of the most important considerations for you when hiring an outsource service provider, keep in mind that the quality of results you get may depend on the amount of money you’re willing to pay. The old adage “you get what you pay for” is every bit as true today as it was ten years ago.
(The outsourcing market has been flooded with relatively unskilled folks who see an opportunity to make money. They market with flash and pizzazz but rush out finished products without regard to your marketing message, the prospect’s needs or wants, or even grammar and spelling! Affiliate marketers are particularly susceptible to these unscrupulous outsourcers because they often operate on limited budgets.)
And as far as the actual billing process is concerned: Understanding exactly how your content provider is going to bill you will ensure that there are no hidden surprises over the course of your relationship. Agree up front about an hourly wage, a quote per project, or a bulk work discount . . . and get it in writing!
7) Would you be open to a continuing business relationship?
Once you’ve found a service provider you like working with who delivers results, consider keeping them handy for all of your projects. One of the most important aspects of brand building is to retain the consistency of your marketing message across all of your public domains. The easiest way to do that is work with the same service providers (or group of providers) throughout. Even something as simple as changing the wording of a single heading in a sales letter can mean the difference between success and failure and if you do find success, doesn’t it make sense to do everything you can to replicate it?
Also, many copywriters will offer bulk rate discounts on copy or give long term clients lower rates, preferential treatment, or shorter deadlines.
For more on this topic, checkout “How to Hire a Freelance Copywriter.”
If you have any more questions about hiring freelance copywriters or would like to suggest questions of your own, post a message in the comments. Also, if you like this article, feel free to pass it along.