What not to do when you’re hiring a copywriter

Thora Fitzpatrick

Your Creative Copywriter | Digital Marketing | Technical & AI | SaaS | Logistics » Making the Complex Understandable

Finding a copywriter can be tricky. There are thousands of copywriters to choose from, all with varying levels of experience and expertise. So how should you go about finding the right writer for you? 

In this post, we’ll look at how “not” to go about choosing a copywriter, and offer some recommendations on the best way to go about things. 

The first “don’t” on the list has to be: 

1. Don’t put copywriting on the backburner

Don’t get so fixated on getting your new website (or eBook or landing page etc.) looking perfect, that you forget about the messaging. 

Once the wireframe, UX, colours, and branding are complete, it may suddenly occur to you that you haven’t planned how to put your brand message into words. Leaving things this late means the copywriter (when you do find the right one) has a lot of catching up to do.  

2. Don’t allocate insufficient time to content writing

Writing high-quality content takes time. So to reduce your stress, make sure you plan ahead. Otherwise, you may be putting a copywriter in the position of having to quickly “pull something together.” Your beautiful website deserves better. 

3. Don’t just opt for your developer’s/designers suggestions

Most developers have a copywriter they recommend to clients, and they may be perfectly competent. However, do they understand your niche? Do they really “get” your brand? Taking your developer’s word for it might be the easiest way to go initially. But a few weeks down the line, when things aren’t coming together, you can say goodbye to your deadlines – and it’s time to start over again. 

4. Don’t skip your homework

Even if you’re short on time, don’t get swayed by the first copywriter you come across. Make a shortlist of people you like the look of, maybe those who have worked in your industry. 

Having said that, just because a writer doesn’t have any examples that relate exactly to your field shouldn’t rule them out. Good copywriters tend to work for a lot of clients, and need to pivot from industry to industry. They’re good at quickly getting up to speed. 

So look for the quality of writing rather than an exact match to your sector. Sometimes it’s even preferable to work with a writer outside of your niche, because they can give you “fresh eyes” on your brand and USPs. 

As part of your research, dig deep into their social media profiles. Ask: 

  • Does your preferred copywriter have a LinkedIn profile with recommendations from previous clients? 
  • Do they have a good, well-written website (why would you choose someone who can’t portray themselves effectively in words) for your own content writing projects? 
  • Do they have a portfolio, so you can see previous work and assess whether you like their style? 
  • Do they have relevant experience in working with firms or people like you?

All this information can help you develop a shortlist of copywriters to talk to.

5. Don’t go with a copywriter because their blurb says they are “reassuringly expensive” 

Don’t be so easily reassured. Just because a writer pitches themselves as costly it doesn’t mean the quality of their writing will be superior to that of another writer. Research the accepted market rates by visiting copywriter websites, so you know which ballpark you should be playing in. 

6. Don’t underpay for good writing

Pay what you should. Don’t overpay, but don’t haggle when it comes to pricing. Copywriters set their rates for a reason, based on numerous factors, from their experience, the length of the pieces and their complexity, the research time involved, and more. Trying to bag a bargain won’t work, it just shows that you don’t really value their work. 

7. Don’t be vague about your requirements

Unless the project is extremely straightforward, e.g. a blog post on a specific topic, it’s sensible to speak to a writer before you hire them. 

When you first talk to a prospective copywriter, be as specific as you can about what you want: Are you looking for someone to help you create a tone of voice for your brand, or write copy for a promotional landing page, or email campaigns? 

What do you want your content to do (e.g. create engagement, convert browsers into customers, or encourage users to find out more about your product or service?). The more info you can give a prospective copywriter, the more quickly they can assess your requirements, provide you with relevant work samples, and get you a cost for your project. 

Make sure your prospective copywriter has done their research too, so they can offer you something back at your first meeting. If they haven’t done you the courtesy of looking into your industry or company before you meet, it’s time to move on. 

At the end of the day, you also want to choose someone you think you can work with, and who will fit in with your organisation and culture.

To sum up

Finding the right copywriter is an essential piece of the marketing process. The quality of your content can make the difference between a great website and an average one. So take your time, be clear about your expectations, and carry out plenty of research before committing to a writer. If you do all these things, you have the best chance of creating a working relationship that will last the long term. 

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