Nine questions you must ask before hiring a copywriter

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

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If you're a marketing professional you may need to hire a copywriter to supplement your in-house staff for a B2B marketing project. If you do, how can you be sure that you're getting what you need?

To help you answer that question I did extensive Internet research to find out what people like you ask a prospective copywriter.

There were some surprising results.

  1. Only one person asked how much the copywriter would charge and whether it would be by the hour, the word, or the project.
  2. And only one person asked whether English was the copywriter's native language.

Based on this research and my own experience here are 9 questions that'll help you get what you need in a copywriter.
1. Is English your native language?
This may not be a deal killer. The person may have a terrific command of English. But you don't want to find out that's not so in the middle of a rush job.
2. What do you know about my business?
While good copywriters can write about most topics with sufficient research, the learning curve will be far shorter and your handholding will be minimized if the copywriter is knowledgeable about you business.
3. Can I see samples of your work?
Ideally the copywriter's portfolio will contain samples of work from you industry. But that should not be the only criterion. How good is the writing? How about tone? Is it conversational? Do you like what you're reading? Sometimes having someone outside you industry cn be good. Fresh eyes and approach.
4. Do you have a Website?
If the copywriter does not have a Website he/she loses credibility as far as writing content or copy for a Website.
5. Do you prepare a Creative Brief for each project and an outline before completing the first draft?
A Creative Brief is essential to document the scope and approach to the work in a mutually agreeable form.It avoids arguments over the bid scope should a scope changed be required later. An outline provides a rough picture of the completed project before you turn the writer loose. This allows both parties to fine tune the project to prevent the writer from going in the wrong direction.
6. What and how do you charge?
This is always tricky. Some copywriters charge by the hour, some by the word and some by the project. If the scope of the project is very vague expect the writer to charge by the word or the hour. If it is well defined with a concise Creative Brief, expect the writer to charge by the project. It's in your best interest to have a well defined project scope so that the writer can charge by the project. This gives you a fixed number for you budget (you boss will like that). You risk is minimal. The writer assumes most of the risk but with the assurance of being paid a fixed amount. Typically copywriters will ask for between 30% and 50% up front starting the project and my require a "kill fee" if you cancel the project before its completion.
7. Can you stick to a deadlines?
This is important because in many cases the copywriting you get fro your writer is just part of a larger marketing campaign with a firm deadline. I the copywriter can't continence you that he/she can meet deadlines you may be wise to say "Next."
8. Are you easy to work with?
Talking with the copywriter on the phone may allow you to determine whether indeed he/she is easy to work with. A better way is to ask for references and call them to see how they liked working with the copywriter.
9. Why you?
Can the copywriter convince you that he/she can do the best job for you? What's the basis for the claim? Industry experience? Unique approach? Ability to meet schedule?

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