Biz Tips: How to find and hire the right copywriter for your next project

Biz Tips: How to find and hire the right copywriter for your next project

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How to find and hire the right copywriter for your next project

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Last summer, I needed to hire a copywriter.

As a freelance copywriter myself, I thought, “this should be easy,” but it was just the opposite.

I quickly learned that many writers don’t have a cohesive portfolio.

Some couldn’t clearly articulate their speciality or area of expertise.

And others were so inexperienced, it seemed like my project would have been their first gig.

While I eventually found the right person for the job, it took a lot of time and headache to get there.

So to save you from some of the pitfalls I experienced, I’ve written a simple guide to help businesses, startups, and single founders find the perfect copywriter.

Let’s dive in!

Step 1: Map out your project and hiring criteria

Before you can find or hire the right copywriter, you need to map out some specifics regarding your project and the type of person you’re looking for.

To start, ask yourself some basic questions about your project, like:

  • What do I want done?
  • What is my budget?
  • What results do I want to see?
  • When do I want this work to start?
  • When do I want this work to be finished?

Having answers to questions like these before you begin your search will only save you (and the copywriters you engage) time and headache.

Once you’re clear on your project needs, it’s time to start thinking about hiring criteria.

Now, this will be different for everyone, but here’s a list of questions I referred to when I was assessing various writers:

  • Does their speciality match your needs?
  • Do they have clear samples of work?
  • Have they worked with similar brands / products?
  • Do they have a project minimum (and does it fit your budget)?
  • Do they have enough experience to get you the results you want?
  • Do they seem organized and professional?
  • Does their process fit your work style?
  • Are they responsive and not flaky?
  • Have other people worked with them?
  • What kind of results did those people see?

And so on.

Once you have a clear idea of your project needs and hiring criteria, it’s time to identify the right type of copywriter for your project.

Step 2: Identify the type of copywriter you need

While it may seem like all copywriters are the same, nothing could be further from the truth.

Think of it this way:

Is a history teacher the same as a gym teacher?

Is a throat doctor the same as a cancer specialist?

Is a divorce lawyer the same as a patent attorney?

No, of course not, and the same applies for copywriters.

Like many other professions, copywriters come in all shapes and sizes, with different backgrounds and areas of expertise.

This means you don’t just need a “copywriter” for your project, you need the right copywriter who can help you with your specific needs.

If you’re not sure what you need, checkout the list below, which will teach you a bit more about the different types of copywriters available and when you may consider hiring each one.

Keep in mind, this is not an exhaustive list. Also, the terminology can vary when it comes to what an individual copywriter calls him or herself, but this should point you in the right direction.

#1: The Conversion Copywriter

If you want to make more money online, you should hire a Conversion Copywriter.

A Conversion Copywriter is a writer who’s trained in the art of selling and persuasion. This type of writer uses data and proven psychological models to produce messages that sell.

Hiring a Conversion Copywriter will motivate more of your customers to say “yes,” whether you’re asking them to buy a product or opt-in to your newsletter.

Hire the Conversion Copywriter for: Landing pages, sales pages, web copy, emails, CTAs

P.S. I’m a Conversion Copywriter! You can see my work here.

#2: The SEO Copywriter

If you want more people to discover your content online, you should hire an SEO Copywriter.

An SEO Copywriter is a writer who can incorporate relevant keywords into a particular piece of content in a natural way.

Using an SEO Copywriter can improve your ranking, which can help drive qualified traffic to your blog, website, and more.

Hire the SEO Copywriter for: Blog posts, web copy, title tags/meta descriptions, comparison pages

#3: Content Copywriter

If you need someone to churn out lots of blog content, you should hire a Content Copywriter.

A Content Copywriter is a writer who specializes in long-form writing. They’re able to write in an informative, yet engaging way, which keeps your audience reading from the first to the last line.

Some Content Copywriters also have SEO experience, which will help you create both discoverable and engaging material.

Hire the Content Copywriter for: Blog posts, guides, white papers, and eBooks.

#4: The Creative Copywriter

If you want access to a brain that can pump out tons of creative ideas, you should hire a Creative Copywriter.

This type of writer is usually found within advertising agencies, as he or she can quickly churn out great ideas for lots of different clients.

If you’re trying to attract new customers with a flashy ad campaign or want some attention-grabbing ideas, a Creative Copywriter is the way to go.

Hire the creative Copywriter for: Creative ad concepts/copy, Campaign ideas, snappy headlines

#5: The Branding Copywriter

If you want to create or solidify your brand, you should hire a Branding Copywriter.

A Branding Copywriter is like a blend of a strategic and creative copywriter. They have the ability to dream up ideas, but in a way that follows a strategic process.

The Branding Copywriter is perfect for businesses that are just starting out (and need to define their style/tone) or businesses that want to pivot and need guidance to redefine their brand.

Hire the Branding Copywriter for: Naming your business, coming up with a tagline, tone of voice development, writing brand guidelines

#6: Social Media Copywriter

If you want creative and engaging copy on your social media channels, you should hire a Social Media Copywriter.

A Social Media Copywriter is usually a creative writer who understands the nuances of writing for various social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and others.

This person may also have strategic chops, which can be helpful when it comes to developing content series, contests, partnerships, and more.

Hire the Social Media Copywriter for: Social captions, social bios, image copy, responsive copy, or social strategy (depending on his/her background)

#7: Product Copywriter

If you need copy within your product (think software, apps, etc), you should hire a Product Copywriter.

A Product Copywriter is someone who specializes in writing all of those little bits of words and phrases you find within Dashboards or other internal parts of your product.

Product Copywriters usually have some knowledge of UX and UI, so their approach is more strategic, keeping the user in mind with every word they write.

Hire the Product Copywriter for: in-app copy, notifications, tool tips, intercom messages, help docs

#8: Video (or script) Copywriter

If you need someone to help you write a killer promotional video, you should hire a Video Copywriter.

A Video (or script) Copywriter is a creative writer who has experience bringing ideas to life in video form.

This type of writer has the ability to take a “big idea” and shrink it down to make it fit within a specific timeframe, whether that’s 30 seconds or 5 minutes.

These types of writers often have experience working on sets, with directors, actors, producers, and other talent.

Hire the Product Copywriter for: Commercials, explainer videos, promotional videos, demo videos

#9: Technical Copywriter

If you need someone to help you clearly articulate complex or dense subject matter, you should hire a Technical Copywriter.

A Technical Copywriter typically works on medical or pharmaceuticals, technology, software, financial, legal, or other industries that may require a certain level of “translation” to lay people.

This person enjoys taking complex material and turning it into simple, easy-to-understand text.

Hire the Product Copywriter for: Medical writing, pharma, tech, software, finance, or legal copywriting

Okay, that covers it!

While this is not an exhaustive list, you now know a bit more about the types of copywriters that exist, and which ones may be good (or not so good) for your next project.

Once you know which type of copywriter you need, it’s time to start searching…

Step 3: Find the right copywriter for your project

While it may be tempting to go onto Upwork and hire the cheapest copywriter you can find — don’t. Doing so will only cheapen your results and won’t leave you very happy.

Instead, start with your network.

#1: Referrals

The best place to find quality writers is through your own personal or professional network.

Getting recommendations from people you know and trust is going to get you 10x better results than picking a random person you find on Upwork or other job sites.

To get started, try sending an email to people you know in your industry who may have worked with the type of copywriter you’re looking for.

Here’s an example of an email you could send out:

Example of an email you could send to your network

If your immediate contacts don’t have any recommendations, try posting on LinkedIn or in any professional communities (i.e. — Slack channels) you may belong to.

Even if you don’t find the right person immediately, chances are, someone in your network can point you in the right direction.

You can also try asking people who typically work with copywriters, for example: agency people, designers, SEO or CRO specialists.

If you’re not sure where to start, go through your contacts on LinkedIn, identify who may be a good resource, then reach out.

Even if you don’t know the person directly, ask anyway — they may know exactly who you’re looking for!

#2: LinkedIn

If referrals aren’t an option, the next best place to search is LinkedIn.

The reason I recommend LinkedIn over a Google search is for a few reasons.

First, LinkedIn will rank your search results by those who are within your network, showing you were you may have shared connections.

This is probably the closest you’re going to get to a referral, so use those connections to your advantage.

See where you have shared connections

On top of that, a LinkedIn profile will give you access to his or her work history (“Have they worked with similar brands / products?”) and testimonials from previous clients.

Finally, using LinkedIn will confirm that this person is in fact a real human being, with real work experience, which is important to know when you’re working with a remote contractor.

#3: Google search

If you’ve tapped your network and can’t seem to get any referrals, the next thing to try is a good ol’ fashioned Google search.

With your search, try to be as specific as possible, as this will yield the best results.

For example, if you’re looking for a conversion copywriter to write your landing page, search “landing page conversion copywriter.”

If you want to work with a New York-based branding copywriter, search “branding copywriter nyc” (you get the idea).

What you want to avoid is searching something general like “copywriter” as you’ll get a million results with no specific direction to help your specific situation.

As you go through this process, keep in mind that you’ll need a short list of copywriters (maybe 3–5) as not all of them will be available for your project.

Once you have your list, it’s time to reach out and make contact.

Step 3: Engage and hire the copywriter

Now that we’re nearing the end of the process, let’s review what you should have by this point:

✓ Your project details

✓ Your hiring criteria

✓ The type of copywriter you should hire

✓ A list of people you can reach out to

With these details ironed out, you can begin reaching out to your desired list of copywriters with confidence, knowing that you’re completely prepared and informed.

#1: Reach out with your project information (already done in Step 1!)

As mentioned, you should already have all of your project information ready to go, so reaching out should be easy.

But here’s something to keep in mind:

Good copywriters are usually in demand and busy, so you want to make sure your email has a clear subject line and content that says “I’m serious about working with you.”

Here’s a template you can use (I guarantee you’ll get responses!):

Example of an email you could send to a copywriter

Now, you may balk at the idea of sharing details like your budget upfront, but I assure you, it will only save you time and headache.

Keep in mind, many copywriters require a minimum project rate (or charge by the hour), so knowing if your budget fits within his or her range is key to getting the project moving.

If you don’t know your budget, that’s OK! If that’s the case, you MUST ask questions like:

  • Do you charge by the hour or by the project?
  • Do you have a minimum project rate?
  • What is a typical range for you in terms of total project cost?
  • On average, what can I expect to pay for a project similar to mine?

When it comes to budget, it’s extremely important to be clear (on both sides), so no one ends up wasting his or her time on a project that’s a bad financial fit.

Once you begin getting good responses, it’s time to “meet.”

#2: Schedule a video call

When you hire a freelance copywriter, you’ll likely be working with a remote worker.

This means you won’t get the face time you’d normally have in the office, so it’s important to get to know this person a little bit before you begin paying him or her money.

I’d recommend scheduling a 15-minute video call with whoever you’re considering hiring. I prefer to use Zoom, but any video software works.

During the call, elaborate on what you’ve already shared (like the details of your project, budget, etc), but also ask questions that will help you get to know the copywriter and his/her working style, like:

  • Walk me through your process
  • What are your typical working hours? (This is important if you’re on different time zones)
  • How do you like to review work?
  • How often should we check-in?
  • How should I pay you and when?

Asking basic questions about their working style and how they run their businesses will not only set expectations early on, but it will also give you insight into their level of experience.

If toward the end of the call you feel good about working with a specifiic writer, ask for a proposal (or at the very least, ask, “what are the next steps?”).

#3: Accept the proposal, pay, and get started!

In most cases, the proposal is just a formality that outlines what you’ve already discussed with the copywriter.

Within the proposal, you should see:

  • Description of the project
  • List of deliverables
  • Timeline
  • Goals or success metrics
  • Description of the contractor’s process
  • Pricing
  • Payment instructions
  • Legal copy or “fine print”
  • An area for both of you to sign

Of course, every proposal will be slightly different, but you get the gist.

If the proposal looks good to you, let the copywriter know that it’s approved, sign and send it back (or this will happen automatically if they’re using something like HelloSign, which is what I use).

Many times, the copywriter will require 100% or 50% payment upfront, so be prepared to pay before you even begin the project.

The payment methods may vary, but a professional copywriter should have a quick and easy way for you to pay them instantly (i.e. — an invoice with a “Pay now” button).

Once the payment is complete, you should be able to begin the project (aka the fun part!).

Things to watch out for…

Before you go off in search of the perfect copywriter, there’s two things you should watch out for:

#1: Hiring cheap copywriters on Upwork

You may think that paying someone $50 to write the copy for your entire website will save you money, but if you value your time (and you should), this is not the way to go.

Here’s why:

Instead of getting copy that’s so good you can publish it immediately (and start seeing results quickly), you’ll be spending time rewriting poor copy, editing out typos, correcting grammar, fixing inaccuracies, and so on.

The money you think you saved upfront will be spent later on, either with your own time or by hiring another writer to do the project correctly.

Remember that writers who are on Upwork (or similar job sites) are usually there for two reasons:

(1) They’re Junior and looking for experience

(2) They’re not experienced enough to attract their own high-quality clients

You simply have to ask yourself:

Do you want your website or landing page or emails to be written by a professional who can get it right the first time, or by a Junior writer who’s still learning the ropes (and using your project as a guinea pig)?

#2: Copywriters who claim to “do it all”

When a copywriter has no specific niche (whether by industry or by the type of copywriting), this is usually a red flag.

It doesn’t mean that he or she won’t do great work, it just means, again, that they’re more likely to be junior or not as experienced.

Ideally, you want to work with a writer who has experience that matches up with your specific project, needs, and industry, as specialization will yield the best results.

Go forth and hire!

You now have everything you need to find and hire a copywriter for your project.

I hope you found this guide helpful, but if you still need help, feel free to comment below or email me directly: [email protected].

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