How to Hire a Copywriter

If you’ve been sitting with your head in your hands, staring at a swirl of words, wondering how to hire a copywriter–this blog post is for you.

Learning to read and write is critical for the function of society. In fact, at about five years of age, the vast majority of us head off to a highly effective institution to become acquainted with our ABCs. School, as it is otherwise known, is where we all encounter our first frustration or elation regarding writing.

Now, depending on if you found absolute joy in words or if you struggled to get them from your brain to the paper may be an indicator as to whether or not you enjoy doing your own copywriting. If you know writing is not your cup of tea, then you may be wondering how to hire a copywriter. 

Or, it could be that there is just too much to do and, even though you love writing, you know that it must be delegated to a professional. Or maybe you’re writing some of your content and copy, but you know there needs to be more. 

Whatever the case is, you’ve decided that you need to call in a professional. Below, find a step-by-step guide to hire a copywriter the right way. 

How to Hire a Copywriter 

Step 1: Determine if you actually need a copywriter or if maybe your product isn’t that great. 

According to Abbey Woodcock, a six-figure copywriter and contributor to Growthlab, who has seen her fair share of copywriting requests, many people who believe they desperately need a copywriter actually just have a product or a marketing problem.

“Here’s a secret: copy can’t save a bad product or bad marketing. If you don’t have a good list or a marketing strategy, I could channel all the Eugene Schwartz and David Ogilvy I can muster and you won’t get any more sales,” says Woodcock. 

In this case she recommends revealing your offer and taking a look at your refund rates. A surefire sign is marketing or product-related, rather than copy-related, is a high refund rate. This indicates that people have committed to buying the product but have been disappointed. 

Once you know for sure that you actually need a copywriter, the next step is to figure out what exactly you need written. 

Step 2: Figure out what you want written. 

If you’re new to e-commerce, the amount of writing required may have just floored you (hence you seeking and finding this article). But if you’re a seasoned pro, you know how much writing goes into online business. Blogs, ads, emails, landing pages, sales pages, video scripts… it all takes writing. So before you reach out to hire a copywriter, you need to figure out what you want written. Then you need to determine if it will be an ongoing need or if the copy is static. 

The copywriter ideally will ask a lot of questions about your current copy and your brand so that they can stay congruent in their style and tone. If you are starting with nothing, make sure you at least have a brand guide that you can share with your copywriter in your initial conversation. 

Figuring out what you need (and what you currently have) is going to help you in the next step.

Step 3: Determine the kind of writer you need.

Once you determine what you need written, you will be able to identify what kind of copywriter you need. Some copywriters have a lot of experience in direct response copy which is worlds different than technical writing or content writing. Some copywriters are particularly good at writing ads, while others may have an extensive background in SEO. Of course, finding a writer who can do it all is ideal, but you’ll have to pay them for their skill set. 

Before you start looking for a copywriter, write down what you want the copy to achieve. Be realistic in your expectations. One good blog won’t put your company at the top of a Google search, but hiring a copywriter with keyword experience can help you optimize your content for ranking purposes. 

Step 4: Understand that you get what you pay for. 

There are many factors that influence a copywriter’s rate including location, expertise, years of experience, confidence, affiliation, and skill set. While some freelancers may be a bit self-assured  in their knowledge and overcharge, you typically get what you pay for when it comes to copywriting. 

It might not look like a lot, but there’s a ton of work that goes into curating little chunks of text. A copywriter with experience and education is going to be better at it than someone claiming copywriting as their side hustle. If you’re serious about getting your copy right, you’re not going to have time to edit and re-edit copy that you’ve already paid for. 

All of this being said, before you agree on a contract or a price, make sure you see some work samples and make sure you’re prepared to articulate the full breadth of the story to the writer you choose.  

Step 5: Find a writer. 

While this step sounds simple, it’s actually quite difficult if you don’t know where to look. Websites like Upwork and Fiverr seemingly make finding freelancers easy, it’s not uncommon to run into people who claim copywriting skills but may not actually have the skills you are looking for. So where does one find a copywriter? 

There are a few ways to go about this. Next time you read some copy you like, reach out to that person or company and ask who their copywriter or marketing agency is. Or, take a look on LinkedIn. Copywriters use LinkedIn to self-advertise and promote their work.

This is an important step to take seriously. You don’t want to spend months shopping for a copywriter, so be proactive in finding one that you think will be a good fit for your writing needs. 

Step 6: Be clear and concise about your writing needs. 

Speaking of writing needs, just like how you get what you pay for, you get what you ask for. Any good copywriter will come prepared with their own list of questions to ask you before they get started, however, you need to come prepared with an itemized list of writing you want completed. According to Big Star Copywriting the following are questions you must be clear and concise about with your chosen copywriter:

  • What do you need the copywriter to produce? 
  • What do you want the content to do? 
  • What does your target audience like and what do they want? 
  • What are the key messages about your brand you want to convey? 
  • What style and tone should the writer adopt? 
  • Will there be dependencies on others including designers? 
  • When will the project start and finish? 
  • What is your budget? 

Identifying the answers to these questions will allow the copywriter to do a couple of things. First, they will be able to tell up front if they are the right person for the job. They will also be able to get a feel for the culture of your product and company as well as the kind of materials they will need to provide. They can also use this list for guidance and inspiration. They are responsible for creating the words for your product, not the brand–unless of course they are qualified and you pay them to do that. 

Step 7: Agree on payment. 

Before any actual writing is done, make sure you agree on a payment with the copywriter. Determining cost expectations upfront will alleviate any awkward or uncomfortable discussions when the work is complete. 

According to data collected by Abbey Woodcock, the hourly rate for copywriters can range from $67 to $298, depending on experience. If you are hiring a copywriter by the hour, make sure that they provide you with a detailed invoice for their time. 

If you are paying by project, make sure you have agreed to what a specific project entails and how much it costs. 

You can also choose to keep a copywriter on retainer if you plan to have ongoing copy work. To do so, draft up a retainer letter agreeing on a retainer to be replenished as work is completed. 

Step 8: Develop a relationship with the copywriter you’ve selected.

If you’ve gone through all of the work of identifying what you want written, selecting a copywriter, communicating your needs, and agreeing on a price, it would be silly to have to do all of that work every time you needed copy.

It would be beneficial for you to develop a relationship with the copywriter you’ve selected. Once this copywriter has worked on a few projects for you, they can start to anticipate what the voice of your company is and how they can build off of their previous copy.

To build a relationship, respect the copywriter’s time and rates. Don’t try to squeeze them for extra work. Trust their copy decisions and speak highly of them to your peers. You hired them because you needed their skill set, so respect their work as well.

Investing in good copy is one of the best things you can do for your business. If you’re going to hire a copywriter, do it the right way so you don’t have to do it again. 

And, if you’re ready to bring your product (with its awesome new copy) to ClickBank, sign up for an account to get started. It’s free!