Looking to Hire A Freelance Copywriter?
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Tips Before You Hire – Hiring a freelance copywriter can be a full time job. So to make your life a tad bit easier we came up with a list of must do’s before you hire for your next big project.
I am very please to introduce Copywriter Sue Treiman to our hire a designer series. She is an Emmy-award winning TV writer/producer and newspaper columnist.
It’s already in the teens and your website is looking downright millennial?
Consider hiring a professional web copywriter. A qualified scribe can create bright, polished copy that accurately captures your ‘value proposition’ while skillfully targeting your audience.
Selecting the perfect professional, though, can be tricky. After all, writing is an intimate process that requires sharing proprietary business information, not to mention hopes and dreams.
To ensure you find the best person, keep the following 10 qualities in mind.
1. Voice – Like people, businesses (and their websites) have distinct personalities. If you sell trendy duds, you may want sassy, irreverent verbiage, but if you peddle paper, plain vanilla prose is fine.
Either way, the first order of business is to know your needs and your market. Think about the language your clients and competitors speak. What are its distinct characteristics, phraseology, quirks? Once you find a writer, the research will help inform and educate him.
2. Curiosity – It takes an engaged, involved writer to paint a captivating ‘word picture.’ Be certain that your copywriter fully comprehends the business, and is inquisitive enough to seek answers. Listen for probing questions about your product, your purpose, and your ideal customer. If your copywriter dismisses the process with an ‘I can write anything’ shrug, move on.
Good writers must get up close and personal. If they are uninterested at the start, imagine how things might be two months and 15 revisions from now.
3. Specialties – Not all writers are suitable for all projects. A marketing writer may be a promotional whiz, but terrible at crafting longer text; a search engine genius may be stymied by a tough mission statement. Seek skills accordingly, and don’t assume everyone is a Jack or Jill of all trades.
4. Portfolio – The best recommendations come from writers themselves, through their words. If Uncle Charley has a line on a great author, insist on seeing what she’s done. Any writer worth her salt will pepper her own website with ample samples. Also, play close attention to the way she expresses herself in emails and notes. Off the cuff writing can be remarkably telling.
Do remain somewhat skeptical about text on public websites, where it’s impossible to determine who wrote what.
5. Web literacy – Your copywriter need not have been at Tim Berners-Lee’s side when he invented the Internet, but he should be conversant with current conventions, technology and terminology. Social networking, search engine optimization, tweeting, blogs may be part of the writing assignment, either now or in the future.
Ask your prospective author some pointed questions. Has he optimized a site, or worked with someone who has? Does he consider the needs of mobile users when planning his copy? Is he familiar with a content management system you may be considering? If not, is he willing to get up to speed on his own?
6. Collaborative style – Writing tasks can ebb and flow as a site morphs, so copywriters should be flexible about slight twists and turns on the road.
Decide how many revisions will be covered by the initial writer’s fee, how often you’ll check in, how serious your deadlines are, and how you prefer to interact with her (in person, on the phone, via instant messages or through texts).
Determine, too, whether you her to participate in the creative process. Some writers love to contribute and are generous with suggestions. Others would rather follow instructions and deliver the product – no questions asked.
7. Scope – Many small businesses bring a ‘lets make it up as we go along’ attitude to their web revamps. That doesn’t suit web copywriters who need to plan the rest of their lives, in addition to your project. Estimate the breadth and depth of the assignment before you engage the writer. Even if your estimate is rough, it enables him to plan his life. And if you can’t do that, be honest about it – so he knows what he’s signing up for.
8. Contract – Any business relationship is a pact between individuals with competing interests. Clear expectations should be set in a formal contract, rather than through a handshake agreement.
A written document takes the guesswork out of the scope, communications style, deadlines and deliverables connected with the project. It also allows you to retain the rights to all your content (which does not happen automatically), and to safeguard your brilliant idea. Free boilerplate contracts and non-disclosure agreements are an easy Google search away.
9. References – Take the extra step of calling the writer’s references. Ask them what, if anything, they wish he had done differently, why they hired him and how many people revised the copy. These will become critical factoids later in the process.
10. Philosophy – No need to channel Socrates, but getting a sense of how a writer views the task of web text creation can be enlightening and helpful. If she isn’t able to articulate the differentiators between screen-based and print communications, she may not be up to the task.
Ideally, your writer will have a healthy respect for brevity, a working knowledge of readability, and a strong sense of the qualities that make websites user-friendly. If she doesn’t believe that copy is scanned instead of read, if she never heard of eye tracking, and if long rambling sentences like this one don’t bother her, she’s not your best candidate.
Once all this is said and done, the ultimate qualification is compatibility. Find someone who sees things the way you do, shares your goals, is flexible and knows her way around words and you’ve picked a winner.