It's a Jungle Out There: How to Hire the Perfect Freelance Copywriter

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Think.

What’s the first thing you encounter when you go looking for information about a business? If it’s not one of their sales reps, it’s their website, their Facebook, or their blog. You’re either confronted with great copy that makes you want to engage with them, or poor copy that dissuades you from doing so.

The bottom line? You need great content.

But, finding the perfect copywriter is like trying to pick out all the green lollies in a jar full of candies. You post a job listing, pick a lucky applicant, and he or she goes to work. A couple days later, you receive the first draft and…it’s not exactly what you want.

If you want revolutionary, personable content that represents your brand to a tee, you’ll need to ask the right questions.

Let’s start with the most obvious, but overlooked point…  

KNOW YOUR COPYWRITING NEEDS BEFORE YOU HIRE.

There’s a lot of different formal and informal styles of writing. Before you even try and hire a copywriter, figure out which of the various writing niches you need your new hire to have mastery of. Legal, medical, business and blog copywriting are all very different, and most good copywriters accept that they can’t specialise in it all [be very wary of someone who claims they can!]. You’ll need to hunt for someone with good skills in those niches. It’s very common to have very little idea what you actually need, but until you’ve figured that out you’ll just be wasting your time. Try making a list of the priority tasks the copywriter will do, and then the ‘sundries’ that will need to be done, but not with the priority of the other tasks. You’ll be ninety percent of the way towards knowing exactly what you need.

It’s also important to have a good idea what skill level you need. Everyone starts somewhere, and junior copywriters [with lower monetary demands] are out there if your budget's tight. However don’t delude yourself. If you want picture perfect prose first time out, if you work to tight deadlines, if you need them to specialise in a wide variety of tasks, your demands are high or you simply want reliable, ‘name brand’ results, you will have to be willing to pay for them.

The opening of many online work platforms do make it easier for you to get a lower rate for jobs, especially if you’re looking to hire a copywriter only infrequently, but remember the old adage - you can get only two of the three categories ‘cheap’, ‘good’ and ‘quick’. There’s nothing wrong with a tight budget and price shopping a little, but be realistic - if you want quality, they will ask for paying accordingly. Of course, not every task needs the top writer in their genre - just strike a good balance. If you end up paying to get something redone that should have been done right the first time, you’ll be even more out of pocket.

THE ANATOMY OF AN EFFECTIVE JOB POST

Smashing out a powerful job post, helps attract the best freelancers to you. It’s all in the information you include:

  • WHO YOU ARE: What’s the name of your company? What industry do you operate in? This is your chance to provide some background information.

  • WHAT YOU NEED DONE: Do you need a blog article written, or website content? Is this a regular job, or just a one-off? How many words are you looking for? And who are you targeting?

  • WHEN YOU NEED IT DONE: Is the deadline in a week from when you start? Is there no exact deadline? When will you be checking in?

  • ARE THERE ANY SPECIFIC REQUIREMENTS: Is it important that the chosen freelancer have a good knowledge of a certain area?

Check out this sample job post:

Title: LOOKING FOR A WEB COPYWRITER  

Almonds, Pistachios, Walnuts and Cashews! Any type of nut you can imagine, Squirrl will flavour-roast it. We’re currently looking for an awesome copywriter to help us write up some website copy.

What you'll be doing:

  • Write copy for at least 10 pages for our website. This copy ranges from general content to industry-specific content.     

  • Work with our marketing team so that the voice/tone lines up with our other promotional materials.

This will be an ongoing business relationship. Please submit a writing sample with your proposal. Knowledge of the industry is desirable. Knowledge of SEO is a must. Ideally we’d like to finish up within a month from start.  

PRO TIP: Ask your writers to run their work through a grammar checking software such as Grammarly.

WHAT SKILLS MAKE A GREAT COPYWRITER?  

There’s no real formal training for this field, just a few related degree courses, such as journalism, and marketing. Skip the fancy pieces of paper - go straight to the heart of it:

  • POLISHED WRITING SKILLS: This one’s pretty obvious, right? But, it’s probably the one that get’s people the most. When reading an applicant’s writing samples, be sure to look out for: grammar and spelling mistakes, tone/voice, adaptability between content formats, structure, attention-grabbing headings and compelling conclusions, and creating easy-to-read content.

  • MARKETING AWARENESS: The chosen applicant should have a working knowledge of all aspects of marketing, including SEO and analytics.   

  • STELLAR RESEARCH SKILLS: More often than not, your copywriter will need to conduct some sort of research in order to complete your task. This goes back to our first point: know what you need. Don’t hire a generalist to write a technical article.  

HOW DO I INTERVIEW A COPYWRITER?   

You’ve got to do your due diligence, here. Ask as many questions as possible so that you're both on the same page.

  • FIND OUT A LITTLE MORE ABOUT THEM: Why did they enter the field? What is it that they love about writing? Is it the storytelling? Is it turning technical jibber jabber into easy to understand sentences? This will help you get a sense of them as a writer and as a person.

  • ASK THEM ABOUT THEIR PAST EXPERIENCE: Do they have any published works? What brands have they worked with previously? Can they show you any writing samples (preferably multiple different content formats)? This will help you form an idea of their personal writing style, and how adaptable they are across different platforms.  

  • TELL THEM WHAT YOU REQUIRE: What type of project do you have for them? Are they writing blog, website or email content? How many words are you looking for? If you have a tight budget, now’s the time to tell them. Who’re your intended demographic/audience?

  • ASK THEM WHAT THEIR WORKLOAD PER WEEK LOOKS LIKE: How many articles can they handle per week? If this is a regular job, work out a schedule with them - send them a list of topics on Monday, and have it due by the following Monday.

PRO TIP: Remember it takes two to tango. A professional copywriter should be asking as many questions about you and your business, as you are of them.

SHOULD I PREPARE A TEST?

A writing exercise test can be a great way to get a sense of how a writer works and how a writer will work with you. There’s a couple of caveats here though. Now’s not the time to be cheap - make it a paid test. Picking the best copywriter for the job is an investment on both sides. Secondly, make it relevant. If you’re hiring a blog writer, there’s no point in testing them on writing product descriptions. If you’re looking for a blanket test, get them to write up a technical piece. This way you’ll be able to test research ability, voice/tone, grammar and punctuation, marketing awareness and all-round writing ability.

Be aware, if it’s not their forte (and it shouldn’t be) they should be coming to you with questions - this is a good sign of an engaged copywriter, and a great way for you to see their work ethic first hand. Offer constructive feedback. Ask for a few drafting changes.

SURELY, GOOD SEO IS CRITICAL RIGHT?

SEO is on everyone’s tongues these days, at least if you’re generating web content. Yes, optimizing your content to attract google is a critical part of web success. However, rather opt for a good writer who understands SEO then an SEO whizz who writes like a five year old. In the end, well written content is still what draws in and keeps people in your digital spaces. If you ‘cheapen’ your brand with a bad writer and poor grammar, you won’t win, even if you fool the search engines with it. Don’t overdo SEO demands - let your copywriter know what you need to focus on in the article, and let them work around those.

READY TO HIRE THE PERFECT COPYWRITER?

Forget groan-worthy first drafts, and revision after revision to no end. If you're looking for the perfect freelance copywriter that'll turn it around, you've come to the right place!

Freelancer.com houses thousands of the top freelancer copywriters worldwide. Simply post a project, and make it happen today!

 

  

 

Dikirim 6 Januari, 2017

Cassie Puah
Cassie Puah Kakitangan

Content Marketing Coordinator - Freelancer.com

Part of the content team here at Freelancer to write, edit and SEO-proof our content. Outside of work, I love myself a little gaming and tennis here and there.

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