A few weeks ago, I wrote a post — that received excellent feedback — spelling out the 7 Questions You Must Ask Before Hiring Any Freelance Copywriter.
Today I’d like to take that idea one step further and talk about some of the ways you can ensure that you’re hiring a “good fit” for your specific situation.
When it comes to working with freelancers of any kind, many marketers invest a minimum amount of time investigating the freelancer’s credentials and track record.
After all, it’s not like you’re hiring a full-time employee — so there really isn’t any need to dig deep, right? A simple Google search should do the trick…and then you can get started, yes?
No — not even close.
Given the ever-increasing number of copywriters promoting themselves online these days, it’s easy to get fooled into thinking you’re dealing with an expert.
But let’s go beyond the basic investigation of the writer’s credentials. (After all, the 7 Questions should take care of that piece of the puzzle.)
How do you know that the professional you’re hiring will be a good fit for you and your project?
After all, the writer you hire will — hopefully — be crafting words that could represent you and your business for months…even years.
And a “false start” with a copywriter who doesn’t work well for you could set your project back by several months.
So here are three keys to hiring the right copywriter for your specific project that you should always keep in mind:
Key #1 — Make Sure the Writer Has Specific Examples That Appeal to You
When a freelance copywriter sends you samples of his work, he should be giving you the “best of the best.” So you’ll need to take the original batch of samples with a grain of salt.
But you should examine the samples carefully for a specific piece the writer has worked on that could work for your project or your business.
Keep in mind — you may not find a direct match when reading through the samples. In other words, if you’re selling a joint pain supplement and the writer has only sent over weight loss samples…you may not find a perfect match.
While reading the samples, though, you should be able to pick out one clear example of a writing style that you’d feel would work well for your business.
Whether they admit it or not, every writer has his or her own style of writing. (And, yes, many writers are capable of adapting their style to fit each project.)
But if you’re looking for a promotion that is heavy in research, facts and credibility…you should be able to find a sample of the writer’s work that matches up with that direction. And if not — if you only find hype-filled copy that isn’t backed by any proof — you may be better served to look for another writer.
Again…it may not be possible to find a writer who has written a dozen successful promos for a product exactly like yours. But you should be able to find at least one example of the writer’s work that you’d feel comfortable with in representing your product or brand.
Key #2 — Only Work With a Writer You Enjoy Dealing With
Listen…in my time on the marketing side of the desk, I worked with plenty of copywriters — and I got to experience a number of different personalities.
And I can tell you that — with only a handful of exceptions — those copywriters who proved difficult to work with weren’t worth the extra effort.
I’ll even go one step further and say this: You can tell within a few minutes of your first conversation if the writer will be tough to deal with.
Now that I’m on the other side of the desk, I can have a better appreciation for what freelance copywriters go through. Every once in a while, a writer might have to deal with a client that is indecisive…changes the scope of the project…is late to pay his bills…etc.
But it’s been my experience that those few exceptions — the true “bad clients” — are pretty rare.
So I can’t understand why some copywriters insist on spending part of the initial call — or meeting — with a new potential client laying out their “rules” for the arrangement. Or rehashing old stories about clients who treated them poorly.
That initial meeting or call is about you — the client — and what you need from the writer. The writer should be solely focused on the details behind your project and he should already be searching for the “Big Idea” that will make your project a winner.
Yes, there are a few great copywriters out there who — though difficult to work with — can deliver life-altering results for your business. But good luck getting on their calendar.
A simple rule is this: If you come away from that initial call feeling like the writer is both competent AND interested in doing his best to deliver results for you….then you likely have a winner.
But if the writer spends his time talking about negative experiences — or just seems like he’d be difficult to work with — then I suggest you trust your instincts and find someone else.
Key #3 — Don’t Believe the Hype
One of the things that you learn quickly when dealing with freelance copywriters is that we can be shameless self-promoters.
It comes with the territory — in order to get new clients, we need to let marketers know that we’re out here…and that we’re ready and willing to deliver results.
But after a while, some copywriters seem to start believing the hype they’ve written about themselves.
And they spend more time on their own self-promotion — and their line of information products — than they do working on projects for their paying clients.
This can cause trouble for marketers in a number of ways. First…you may not be getting what you pay for. Some of the “rock-star” copywriters that are so prominent right now aren’t actually writing their own copy. So while you may be paying top-shelf prices for copy from a “superstar” — you’re actually getting copy that was written by an inexperienced underling and — if you’re lucky — “polished up” by the superstar before it gets to your desk.
There’s an easy way to avoid this problem: Ask the writer directly if he or she will be personally writing the copy you’re paying for.
There should be no hesitation in the answer — and, logically, the writer shouldn’t object to agreeing to that very point in writing at contract time.
If you’re going to pay thousands — or even tens of thousands — of dollars for a piece of copy written by a top copywriter…you should at least be assured that you’re getting the real thing.