From a copywriter’s point of view, it would be great if clients had a crystal ball that they could use to see which copywriter best suits their project. There are different types of writing and first-hand experience proves that only a handful of people really know there’s a difference. To digress for a moment, we’ve even come across clients who think that web designers are supposed to write the copy for their web pages. Most don’t. It makes sense. Web designers design. Web developers develop or write code, html or php, and build the structure of your site. So… that leaves you with your web content. Who writes your copy, and how do you publish web content that is going to attract web traffic and then persuade your web visitors to buy?
It seems so obvious, but the fact of the matter is, it isn’t. A few years ago, I fellow I met said to me, “What does anyone need a copywriter for?” It’s true. Copywriters were invisible, a behind-the-scene professional. Ad agencies used to be one of the only places you could find copywriters working, or at least working steadily. Look at Hollywood. For years and years, writers were not even recognized. Now, writers are not only recognized, but celebs go the extra mile to praise the writer associated with their project. This change in attitude toward screenwriters — along with the Internet — puts the spotlight on the value writers bring to a project.
When it comes to the Internet, I am happy to report that a professional copywriter is in high demand. The Internet is all about copy. Whether for web pages, email marketing, pay-per-click advertising, banner ads or autoresponders, the words you publish make or break the entire investment. Big companies with inhouse marketing departments and agencies know when and why to call on the copy writer. But, here’s the cause that no one talks about driving small business people to the professional writer. Everyone and anyone sees the words on your website. The world knows if the words on your home page are junk! How embarrassing is that.
With all this, there still comes the novice client who doesn’t have a clue what the value of a good writer is. So from a copywriter’s point of view, I have some tips on when and how to hire a copywriter.
A. When to hire a professional copywriter or scriptwriter
- When you are in business
- When you can’t write and might be embarrassed publishing poorly composed text
- When you don’t have anyone working in your company that is a professional writer
- When you expect a response
- When you publish text on the Internet
B. How to hire a professional copywriter or scriptwriter
1) The first step is to hire the right writer for the project. If you want a writer to work on a software manual, look for a technical writer. If you want a news release, find a writer who specializes in public relations. If you want to sell, engage the services of an advertising copywriter or a commercial scriptwriter. By the way, the top two writers in business and industry are the direct mail writer and the scriptwriter.
A writer who is a jack-of-all types of writings is a writer who probably isn’t an expert in the type of writing you’re looking for. After all, even the profession of copywriting includes less than capable writers. Rely on that old adage, if you can write anything, you are good at nothing.
Look for a copywriter who concentrates on one objective and because of that, the writing skills are honed to perfection. Sales copywriting does include several formats, such as direct response advertising, direct mail, mail order, web site pages, email marketing, video scriptwriting – all formats intended to sell – and that’s the domain of the sales copywriter — also known as an advertising copywriter or business writer or just writer.
Advertising copywriters generally don’t accept writing assignments for manuals, directories, books, news releases or short stories. Advertising copywriters write to sell!
2) Review writing samples, but keep in mind that copy is sometimes subjective. What’s good for one may not suit another, but the project was still a huge success. Copywriting samples are not the end all for deciding who is a good writer. They serve to prove that the writer is a professional writer with several projects completed. The goal is to check that the writer has actually done work on the type of format you need. For example, a writer with a portfolio full of short stories is probably a good writer, but may not have the mindset or skills to write a direct mail letter.
3) Calling references is probably not going to bear much fruit either. I’ve made a few calls myself and have never heard one bad word. Actually, I can’t think of one writer who would name a reference unless they weren’t absolutely sure the referral would say glowing things about the writer and the work. But you can look over the company name. When a writer has a Fortune 100 company in their referral list, you’ve hit the jackpot unless writing fees are too high. And that brings me to the topic fees.
4) The thing about fees is that with copywriting like any other service, you get what you pay for. Low fees generally mean inexperience. Top writers are in demand and don’t need to work for $15 an hour. If you want quality copy writing, higher fees are the price. But, that said, consider that in the ‘high fee’ category, there is generally a range. Top copywriter fees may vary from $30 – $120 per hour. The quality of writing may be the same, but the difference might be an independent writer with no overhead, as opposed to a writer who works for an ad agency with hefty overhead. Weigh all factors when considering your investment in an advertising copywriter.
5) Finally, learn about the writer. I don’t mean pry into their personal life. Find out who they’ve done work for. Review a client list. Ask about previous employment if the writer is independent. Where did the writer get the experience.
When you find a copywriter that suits your needs, treat your writer like a valued part of your team. I’m adding this because I have experienced a few demanding clients who exceeded good will. Who hasn’t? Your copywriter is a top salesperson, and should be treated with respect. Provide detailed feedback. Promptly. Pay on time. What you get in return is the best outcome possible.