10 key questions you need to ask your freelance copywriter
As the saying goes, 'If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.' There are great copywriters to suit every budget. However, you should still take some the time to research which copywriter is going to be the best fit for your business. The last thing you need is missed deadlines, crappy copy, a misunderstood brief (or no brief at all) and a waste of precious time.
And don’t use hourly rates to compare – what takes an average writer 10 hours at $75 per hour may take a competent writer 5 hours at $125 per hour. Your website is too important to leave in the hands of an inexperienced writer so it's worth your while investing some time and effort into the onboarding process.
So, here are 10 key questions to keep in mind when hiring your next copywriter:
1. Has your copywriter been trained?
Training in one form or another shows commitment and investment in a copywriter's career. Many copywriters have a background in journalism, marketing or business. Asking your copywriter how they got to where they are now not just builds rapport but gives you an opportunity to explore their career history.
2. Ask to see their portfolio or a sample of work.
A visible portfolio on your copywriter's website is a good indication that they have experience in web writing and know what they are doing. However, just because a copywriter may not have specific experience in your industry, doesn't mean they will not be able to produce great copy. Copywriters are curious creatures. They will go above and beyond to learn about your business and your audience.
3. Do they ask to have a phone, Skype or in-person consultation?
If a copywriter starts writing without a brief, this is a sure sign they don't know what they're doing. Completing a project brief takes time, but great things are built on a solid foundation. Don't skip this step. Ever.
4. Do they ask you what your copy needs to achieve?
Copywriters need to be good marketers and good marketers always start with the end in mind. Questions like, 'what do you want to achieve? What's the purpose of this piece of copy?' If a copywriter doesn’t ask that of your website, email marketing campaign, social media strategy or anything else- how they can possibly write copy that achieves your objective?
5. Does your copywriter simply listen or do they challenge your assumptions and assertions?
No-one likes to be probed but all great copywriters will ask the basic questions that often get overlooked – the very questions that often turns a business on its head. Good copywriters ask a lot of questions and help business owners find the answers. There's no need to be defensive, copywriters can often see a different perspective that may have been overlooked.
6. Does your copywriter provide more than one round of revisions?
Getting copy perfect the first time is almost impossible, so it’s important your copywriter includes at least one, or even better, two rounds of revisions with their quote. There’s nothing worse than paying a copywriter extra fees to do revisions when their first draft didn’t even meet the brief. A sign of an outstanding copywriter is one who offers professional proofreading.
7. Does your copywriter give you a fixed quote?
Quoting a copywriting job can be very difficult because it’s not clear at the outset how much work is involved. However, that’s the nature of the beast and good copywriters are skilled at estimating how much time is involved and should be able to provide a fixed quote that won’t change unless the brief changes.
8. Does your copywriter give you a concrete deadline as to when they will deliver their first draft?
Getting your copy on time is critical because it holds everything up if it’s not ready and that means lost business for you. A copywriter will agree to a deadline, and as the business owner, you should agree to review your rounds of amends on time, in order for them to meet the deadline. This should be all planned and signed off during the briefing process.
9. Has your copywriter worked with web developers before?
Having a copywriter that speaks the same language as web developers is very helpful in getting a website up and running. There is a lot of technical knowledge required to build a website and although copywriters are not IT gurus, it helps if your copywriter knows what meta tags, titles, descriptions, forms etc are because it means everyone is on the same page which ultimately saves you time and money.
10. Does your copywriter offer SEO copywriting?
There's not much point having sparkling copy if no one can find your business online. Writing copy that helps a website get found on Google is vital, so it’s worth asking your copywriter if they have this skill. You will pay extra to get this service but it’s well worth it if getting on page one of Google is important to you.
I hope this article helps you find a brilliant copywriter. It's not always easy to navigate an industry you're unfamiliar with, and the words on your website, emails, blogs, content, brochures & Ebooks are crucially important in turning prospects into customers and our customers into loyal advocates. Never underestimate the power of great copy! Good luck!
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