First, we talked about what a copywriter really does. Then, we covered why you probably need one. Now that we’ve determined that a copywriter may be helpful to your business, let’s discuss how to find the right one for you.
There are lots of copywriters out there. Some are incredible, and some suck. Some can write in your voice, and some can only write in their own. How can you weed out lazy, incompetent, non-responsive, flaky, inflexible and boring? The same way you would ask around for general contractor or attorney referrals – cull your network for copywriter recommendations.
You have some names. Now, what? Before you spend even 5 seconds on a phone interview, review their writing samples. Some writers have a published online portfolio, so it’s easy to comb through what they’ve produced, but others (especially ghost writers) are discreet, and therefore samples will need to be requested. Request away, and take the time to read them. Does the writing motivate you? Does it resonate with you? Compel you? Does it trigger emotion, entertain you, or tell a good story? The answer needs to be a resounding “Yes” before you get anybody on the horn.
You called. Now, what should you ask them? The better question is: What should they ask you? Any good copywriter has to be well informed about your marketing goals, target audience, brand and voice before he or she can produce, or even give you a quote. If your interview is one directional (you ask, she answers) then hang up. You’re looking for someone insightful. Someone proactive who will take the time to learn enough about you and your vibe to publish appropriate content. Someone who has been doing this for long enough that she knows what information to gather before moving forward, in your voice.
Discuss expectations and turnaround time. How many clients does she have? Can you expect (or do you want) a blog post per week? How about two? Should they be 500 words or 1,500? Can she handle the assignment given her current client load? The last thing you want is to be de-prioritized because she’s got too much on her plate.
Know thyself. Are you a phone person or strictly email? Do you need to be able to communicate with your copywriter on the fly? Is she cool with that? There are writers who go into a “writing cave” and do not communicate while the “juices are flowing.” Are you cool with that? Find out her style, her preferences and discover if the two of you will gel.
Is she tech savvy? Does she know the basics of SEO, keywords and social media? Can she recommend where you might want to guest blog, and open your eyes to new potential online audiences? Find out.
For what fields has she written? Is she familiar with your industry or genre? If her client list is strictly corporate (banks, insurance agencies, actuaries) and you’re a rap artist, it’s unlikely that she’ll be able to turn out content that reflects your image. It’s crucial that your copywriter can identify with your target audience in some way, so if you’re selling feminine hygiene products, at the risk of being sexist, you’re probably going to want to hire a woman. This person needs to “get” you.
If there are ever any grammatical errors in her initial communication to you, abort. Jump ship immediately. Content writers are generally Grammar Nazis, and they should be. If you find a typo, RUN.
Once you feel comfortable with your potential copywriter, ask her for references. You may not intend to contact any of them, which is a-ok, but her reaction needs to be “Sure! I’ll get them right over to you.” Names and contact information should show up within 24 hours. Any other response is unacceptable and cause for bailing.
Hopefully, by now, you’ve determined not only whether or not you require a copywriter, but exactly what that person is, does and knows. You also know how to find, interview and select her. Just keep in mind….avoid the Skype video (she’s likely wearing pajamas).
Submitted by Hilary