Hiring a freelance copywriter may be a little scary, especially if you’ve never done it before. However, the rewards can greatly outweigh the risks, especially if you pick the right copywriter the first time. Here are a few tips you can use to find the best copywriter for your project and make sure that you get the content you need on time, on target, and on budget.
Make It Easy On You
The first thing you can do to make the process as simple as possible for all parties concerned is to have a concrete idea of what exactly it is you need from the copywriter. If you have only a vague outline and general idea of what’s involved, you’re going to spend a lot of time (and money) floundering around before you even find somebody who is willing to take on your project.
I was once contacted by a client who had a vague idea about how to market their website. Somebody had told them about press releases and article marketing and they thought they would kill two birds with one stone by hiring me to write a few articles they could use as press releases. The thing is, press releases are very different animals than an article. They follow a specific format, must be written to grab the attention of media leaders not the general public or Google, and are almost never directly (or overtly) promotional.
I explained that to the client and told them I would provide a few releases and a few articles and they would be good to go. After writing the content and submitting it to the client, I was asked if I had any way to submit or distribute those press releases. If you want quality results from any press release, it’s best to use a paid service such as PR Web. I hadn’t factored in distribution into my initial bid so I said that unfortunately I would either have to add that on or the client would have to take the responsibility upon themselves. I told them exactly what they needed to do and how . . . and waited.
A couple of weeks later, the client got back to me and said they’d simply given up the idea of getting the releases distributed and were using them for website content. (A total waste of time and money!)
On the other hand, one of my long term clients always has a detailed outline with specific keywords, target demographics, and useful ideas all ready to go before he ever gets in touch. Not only do his projects proceed much more swiftly, they also end with a much higher quality product that gets the results he’s looking for.
Narrow down the motivation behind your project as much as you can. If you have to do research in a certain area, do it (or find somebody else who can) before you contact a service provider.
Next, find a provider that fits your needs. Google is a good place to find copywriters but the copywriters you’re going to find in the first few pages of results often charge hundreds of dollars per hour and thousands of dollars per project—even if that project is a simple sales letter! I’m not saying that the finished product isn’t worth it. I’m just saying that most small businessses don’t have that type of money to shell out.
There are other websites available, such as Elance.com, and Freelancer.com where service providers actually bid on your projects. However, be careful of reducing your search to the most “cost-efficient” because the results you get might not be those you need.
Another option is to post a job listing on a job board such as Problogger or even CraigsLists. While many quality freelancers do troll those sites looking for prospective projects, it’s far more common for them to visit the meta engines and blog sites that aggregate those job listings. There are several such websites but one of the most famous (and most active) is Deb Ing’s website The Freelance Jobs Network. If you’re job finds its way there, you’re guaranteed to get a handful of qualified providers apply.
Next, once you have a pool of copywriters available to choose from, you have to narrow your search to one or two who you think fit the bill. The best way to do that is check out their personal websites. (If the copywriter you’re thinking of hiring doesn’t have a website, reconsider your choice!) Usually you’ll be able to find samples, client lists, fee schedules, testimonials, and more on these websites that will help make your decision a little easier.
Next, get in touch with the copywriter. Their website and marketing material should make this as simple as possible. You don’t have to schedule a face to face meeting—in fact, most professional copywriters tend to see meetings as unnecessary. However, you can call on the phone, chat via Skype, send an email, or even hit them up on Twitter. Social media has truly revolutionized the way we talk to people, hasn’t it?
Once you have your preferred copywriter on the line, ask them a few questions. You may have some questions of your own specific to your project but here are “7 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Copywriter to help get you started. In fact, ask as many questions as you need to. Copywriters should never charge for consultations (unless you’re requiring them to travel.)
By now you should have a good idea if the person you’re talking to is the right fit for your project or not. Now all you have to do is hammer out the details. Here are a few things to remember:
1) Be specific about your requirements
2) State your budget and how firm you are with that number
3) Make your deadline crystal clear
4) Setup a clause for revisions
5) Ask about a guarantee (most copywriters don’t guarantee anything but delivery, however, it never hurts to ask)
Do all of this before ever signing anything or giving the go ahead for your copywriter to begin on the project.
Another thing: be prepared to pay at least a portion of the projects final fee up front. Almost all copywriters ask for an advance as a way to safeguard their investment of time and resources. It’s a good business practice for them and if they ask it’s just one more clue that you’re working with a professional.
Hopefully this guide to hiring copywriters was helpful to you. If it was and you think somebody else could benefit from the information contained herein, feel free to pass it along.