5 Steps to Hiring a Great Copywriter…

May 2, 2021 | Advertising, Copywriting

To Snowball Your Business Into a Monster that Makes Competitors Hit the Panic Button

Thinking you should hire a professional copywriter, but worried about what that entails? Or unsure what you actually need?

Unfortunately, most entrepreneurs are reluctant to hire a copywriter when they could simply “go it alone” – do it themselves and save the fee. Problem is… while this pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps thinking works at the newborn stage of a business (when you wear every hat), it doesn’t fit well at all if you intend to grow to adulthood.

Still, it can be a jungle out there in copywriter-land. It makes both financial and emotional sense to get a grip on what you’re doing before you hire your perfect wordsmith. Or you’ll risk getting knocked around financially, while wasting valuable time, emotions, and energy.

So here’s a quickie primer for what you – the owner or marketer in charge of hiring – should know going in to save yourself considerable heartache.

1. Know what you want done.

A copywriter can do many types of wordsmithing. What do you need done? A single ad, or an entire website? Created or overhauled? Emails, video sales letters, and long-form sales copy for a launch? Auto-responders, landing pages…? Lead gen letters, case studies, white papers, or annual reports?

The more clarity you have, the better. But…

2. If you’re not sure, it’s not the end of the world.

Still, you need to admit it if you’re clueless – and do your homework. You’re about to shell out a lot of moolah, and pin your future on the back of the writer you hire.

What’s more, this’ll be one of the most time- and money-intensive relationships you ever develop in your business… because copy is the central secret in attracting prospects and closing them as customers or clients.

Make no mistake, a quality product is important. But if you can’t figure out how to bring it to market and trade it for cash, you’re going down like the Titanic.

So if nothing works like it used to, if others in your niche are growing faster than you are or totally crushing you, or if you’re new to certain marketing strategies or tactics, it may be high time to hire a freelance copywriter. Or possibly a different kind of freelance copywriter with a different level of expertise. (More on that in a moment.)

3. Set an appropriate budget.

You’ll need more than just the expert creating your copy. Don’t forget the designers, IT experts, lists, postage, and any other conceivable costs you’ll face.

If you’re new to using freelancers, how will you know how much to set aside?

There’s no scientifically proven formula. But at least figure out what you can afford at the moment. You’ll learn about pricing as you go, trust me.

To help you avoid the sticker shock that can come with hiring a compelling copywriter, you need to approach it as if you’re mining the hidden gold in your business. When you get the right message, via the right media, to the right market, you’ll see a spigot of cash flowing into your business and your life.

Conversely, a bombed campaign will have you crying many tears of remorse.

There’s a cost to everything under the sun. And that includes in your business. It includes non-cash things like time, energy, and emotions. You have to balance it all against your odds of success.

If you “save” by writing your copy yourself, what other important business tasks are you ignoring? What destructive forest fires are “burning down your business” while you’re busy trying to write your own copy?

Conversely, if you’re sweating bullets when you write that check, but it brings new customers gushing into your business, how much did your writer really “cost” you?

The time you save can free you up and propel you faster toward your business goals than you ever dreamed. But you have to come to grips with the reality that you cannot do everything in your business if you’re going to grow. It’s just not humanly possible. There are only 24 hours in a day.

4. Now for hiring your copywriter… what you need to know first.

Hiring a copywriter isn’t as simple as grabbing the first one that comes along. But knowing these simple facts can help you sidestep mistakes.

First, there are different kinds of copywriters. You could break them into two broad categories.

a. Regular” – i.e., non-advertising – writers.

They may be able to string sentences together, making them great for blog posts and special reports. Or other non-advertising writing. But you should not depend on them for your bottom line profits, so please don’t assign them to write mission-critical sales copy for you.

b. Advertising writers.

These could also be broken down into two broad categories: those who rely on cleverness, slogans, and brand building (typical agency work)… versus direct response copywriters, who are trained in salesmanship on paper and ask for specific actions. If you want to close sales, capture leads, and move prospects ever-closer to customer status, you want a direct response copywriter.

Secondly, decide which level of expertise your business requires.

a. Green-behind-the-ears rookie.

Might be the right fit, might not… depending on whether he’s been trained in direct response and understands the fundamentals of marketing-oriented writing. But here’s what you need to know – and it’s very important: You will be paying for their education, in part. And if it’s a project that demands true expertise, they’ll be in over their head. What’s more, they may not be used to hard and fast deadlines and the accompanying stress. Hiring a rank beginner can be a lot like betting on a 14-year-old to beat Serena Williams at Wimbledon. And may fail to be the bargain you were betting on.

b. Tried and tested seasoned direct response freelancer.

This professional will have experience in just about any way a sales message could be delivered to a prospect, or an upsell message can be delivered to a new or existing customer. He or she will have gained vast insights into marketing from having been in the trenches and involved in many projects over the years. Many veteran copywriters are also marketing consultants who can kick the germs out of the marketing plan and infuse it with copy that gives it new life.

They can help you see the big picture and diagnose the real problems so your business can get back on the path towards wellness and prosperity.

Top writers earn top fees, and you can expect to be competing with other marketers and entrepreneurs for these top writers. Also, don’t expect your copy turned around tomorrow. Expect it to take weeks or longer to get your copy back. After all, top writers typically have a lot on their plate already, and getting direct response copy done right is hard work.

Be sure to allocate resources for the rest of the process. But recognize that the services that follow the copy should always be subordinate to it. The killer salesmanship that comes with good copy is the key to the kingdom.

c. “A-List” copywriter.

The best of the best. You’ll pay these writers $30K and up into the six digits, even on the first job. They become bona fide partners in the business and may earn more than you do. And they’ll be worth it. Don’t expect to make a “deal” with them or to get them for a quick turn-around. After you’ve made your first few fortunes you might be able to hire one of these writers.

In the meantime, working with a veteran copywriter is probably your best bet. Which begs the question… how do these copywriters prefer to work with their clients? Good to know, in case you want them to stick around and help you build your business long-term.

5. How to work well with your copywriter.

In scenarios where long-term relationships and respect are fostered, there’s a combination of collaboration, copywriting, editing, and respect between the hiring company and the copywriter.

Yet you’d be surprised how many companies frustrate their copywriters, whether accidentally or just because they treat them like a lowly vendor and not a consummate professional.

Here are some of the ways companies convey just that – avoid these like the plague.

a. Bottom fishing on fees.

If you liked that e-lancer’s work so well, why are you talking with me? Copywriters know what’s involved, and the value of their project when done right… increased leads, sales, revenue, and profits. Focus on using copywriting to generate business, instead of on slashing the rates you pay. You’ll improve your ROI.

b. Withholding information from your copywriter.

Don’t assume we magically know all about your company, prospects, and industry. You’re the subject matter expert on that, and a good copywriter will create better copy for you if you’re generous with this information. Ethical, loyal copywriters won’t go blabbing about your company to competitors, and busy ones don’t have time for such nonsense anyway.

c. Switching the project mid-stream.

Before starting a project, copywriters outline its scope so you can approve the plan and have a firm price to work with. If you choose to change course, expect to see fees and completion dates change too.

d. Demanding a certain deadline instead of collaborating on it.

This is demeaning and disrespectful of your copywriter, and arrogant on your part. This should be a collaborative effort and a win-win for all. Don’t sabotage your future profits by doing this to your copywriter.

e. Asking for multiple versions of copy so you can choose which one you like.

Copy is customized, and is therefore time and labor intensive to produce. Asking your copywriter for multiples is a waste of time and money. Do the thinking and strategizing up front and stick to it. Besides, multiple choice often results in massive delays in seeing the ROI from your new copy.

f. Get feedback from outsiders.

Just because your daughter majored in English at Yale doesn’t qualify her to review direct response copy. Remember… it’s about salesmanship in print. College English is quite another beast altogether.

g. Take forever to pay the invoice.

Your copywriter probably bent over backwards to meet your deadline. It’s only fair that you return the favor by paying promptly. Remember, she has bills to pay just like you do.

The list could go on, but I think you get the point. Treat your copywriter with respect and she’ll reciprocate. Value her professional opinion. Collaboration and teamwork is critical to your company’s financial health and future.

Could professionally written sales copy add a zero to the last number on your company’s bottom line? Explore the possibilities with Carol Parks today.

But hurry… because there’s only one of me. I only have limited time available for new clients. And I figured out long ago that all-nighters are for owls, not people.

Oh… and I only accept cool clients. If you’re into flushing money down the drain, please don’t apply.

To your unlimited business growth,

Carol Parks

Carol Parks helps entrepreneurs and companies grow and scale via digital copywriting and smart marketing strategy… both B2B and B2C. Need copy now? Check-out her Services & Copywriting Packages!