24 May 5 steps to choosing a 5-STAR copywriter
Looking for a copywriter? What a smart idea.
Copywriting is a rare and valuable skill that can add immense value to your business. And finding the perfect writer is a piece of cake, right?
Over the years, I’ve had way too many clients engage me after they’ve already had a ‘bad experience’ with another writer. They’ve wasted valuable time and money on content they’ll never use.
But thankfully, this doesn’t need to happen to you. Simply follow these five steps to ensure no regrets.
1. Reach out for recommendations
Thanks to Google, it’s cheap and easy to find potential providers these days. A few keyboard taps here and a couple of mouse clicks there… and voila! Pages and pages of search results to ponder.
But when it comes to hiring a professional to represent your business, Google isn’t the only way.
Before jumping online, why not reach out to your network and ask for a recommendation? Post a message on LinkedIn or send emails to a handful of business contacts you trust. Chances are many of them have worked with a quality copywriter at some point. From there, gather a shortlist of two to three copywriters to consider.
2. Do your due diligence
Once you have a shortlist, it’s time to compare your options. Even if you received names from sources you trust, never neglect this step. Your standards might be higher or simply different to those in your network.
Due diligence is all about transparency and credibility. Here are six questions you need to ask about each of the copywriters on your shortlist:
- How well have they marketed themselves? How effective is the copywriter’s self-marketing? Do you like their website, LinkedIn profile and blog? Is their ‘pitch’ clear and convincing? A copywriter that can successfully communicate their own pitch is more likely to be able to communicate yours.
- Who’s doing the actual writing? The ‘face’ of a business is not always the person who does the work. Many copywriters outsource projects to freelancers (who charge much lower rates) – and they may or may not be transparent about their approach. Either way, you need the truth to make an informed decision.
- How long has the copywriter been in business? Newbies may be super keen and budget-friendly. But an inexperienced writer could cost you a lot more in the long run. You deserve a copywriter who’s done this time and again – and proven their ability to take a brief, quote accurately and meet expectations.
- How broad and deep is their portfolio? Some businesses prefer to engage copywriters with specific experience in their industry. While I don’t believe this is necessary (sometimes a fresh perspective can be a huge advantage), you do want someone with a diverse portfolio. Whatever your business, a broadly experienced copywriter will instinctively understand your unique communication challenges.
- What’s their professional background? Some copywriters have a journalistic background and others come from the marketing world. That’s why it’s important to know whether their expertise suits your needs. A former journalist is ideal for press releases and articles requiring external research, while a marketing professional is best for writing website content and marketing materials.
- Do they have testimonials? Testimonials from satisfied clients offer great credibility. You might find them on the copywriter’s website or as ‘recommendations’ on their LinkedIn profile. In the B2B space, endorsements are typically authentic – and a genuine indication of a person’s experience working with a particular provider.
3. Review relevant work
Your next step is to check samples of each copywriter’s work. If you can’t find any writing samples on their website, request some via email.
Ideally, you want to review work most relevant to your project. For example, if you need website content, don’t spend time critiquing annual reports, white papers and tender documents.
Once you’ve found some pieces to review, ask yourself if you like their style of writing. Is the quality up to scractch? Do you find the content easy to read, interesting and compelling?
4. Pick the right personality
Okay, so you think you’ve found the perfect writer. They’re experienced and credible. And their portfolio rocks.
That’s all well and good, but you also want to know they have the right type of personality – and that working with them will be easy and enjoyable.
Speak with the copywriter to determine if they’re friendly, personable and articulate. Do they listen attentively and ask intelligent, relevant questions? Are they able to give you a clear outline of how they work and what to expect?
Now is the best time to listen to your gut.
5. Compare and question the quote
This is the final step in your search – mainly because quotes should never be considered out of context. You want to be sure you’re comparing apples with apples.
Copywriters have different ways of quoting. Many quote hourly rates. Others quote per word (weird, I know). And some quote fixed prices.
Ultimately you deserve as much certainty as possible. Ticking clocks and vague estimates are dangerous territories. That’s why I always recommend choosing a copywriter who is prepared to give you a fixed project fee upfront.
What’s more, make sure you read their terms of service closely. Some copywriters charge for every round of revisions after the first draft which can hike up your total cost dramatically.
And beware of cheap quotes. If they seem too good to be true, they probably are. As they say, if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.