Guide to Hiring the Right Copywriter for your Business (Plus how to Spot a Great Copywriter)

An Awesome copywriter can be the difference between a Dynamic advertising strategy and a dud.  A Dynamic copywriter can be the difference between your perfect customer giving you a call or they leave your website after 10 seconds.

hiring the right copywriter
Copywriters don’t look like this, but can be as creative…

How do you know the good copywriters from the greats?

That’s the question.  Let’s look at how you can tell the rookies from the vets, then how to hire the best copywriter and the lowest possible price.



  1. They Start with a Focus on who your AUDIENCE is:  

If one of the first questions out of a copywriters mouth isn’t “Who is your audience?”, red flags should go off.  You see, great copy isn’t about flashy words, unbelievable offers and hype.  It’s about finding the right message for the right audience.

That is Zen in marketing and copy.  The perfect match between audience and’s where your money is made.

You’ll be able to spot a Ballin’ copywriter because they are hyper-focused on what your target audience needs and wants.

ACTION STEPS: Listen to what a copywriter asks you right away when you are going to hire them.  First questions they should ask you should be in the ballpark of understanding: Your audience, how your audience uses your product/service, why they use your product/service, and all your benefits.  This is the bread and butter of copy right there.


2. They Focus on the Benefits and the Experience of the Audience NOT the features:

When you read enchanting copy, you can feel the product, you taste what it’s like, you know EXACTLY what it can do for you.  A bad copywriter focuses on: Specs, what buttons do on the product, what the product is made of.

As humans, we buy based on emotions.

Think of a new Mercedes or BMW car purchase.

You want the car for the status, prestige, the confidence you feel.  But, that’s not WHY you tell yourself it’s OK to buy it.

You focus on the gas mileage, the premium seats, top notch AC, whatever it takes to justify the purchase in your head.

A great copywriter focuses on the emotions: the status, prestige.  The poor copywriter simply focuses on the AC and the gas mileage (worse, price…).

ACTION STEPS: Your copyright candidate should know ALL your benefits (it’s their job to dig it out).  Listen to what they say they can do for you when they pitch you….When they pitch you to be your copywriter, do they focus on BENEFITS or the FEATURES.  It’ll tell you everything right there.

E.g. Copywriter benefits: Increase leads, more customers you love working with, useful content for your customer base.

Copywriter Features: Deliver fast work, no spelling errors, quick communication…etc.  These are good, but if they pitch you with Features, run away!


3. The First Line makes you Want to Read the Second One

If a copywriter CANNOT get you to read the second line of their copy, the rest is going to be bad…. Mind-blowing copy boils down to some pretty basic concepts.

Can you get a prospect to keep reading your website, or ad, or landing page.

Have your prospect write a short piece for you (less than 200 words should only be $50-100) and start at the top.  “Does the first line make you want to read?”

Each line should flow to the next.  Ideas should be connecting to form 1 coherent message.

It’s an art.  It’s not easy.  Unfortunately, many small businesses think it’s just “words.”  Words are what sells you products…you need the right words for your audience.


ACTION STEPS:  Look at the headlines of your prospective copywriter.  If they can’t write a great headline, it’s a sure sign the rest of the copy will be weak sauce.  READ THIS ARTICLE ON HEADLINES (surprise the copywriter with the wealth of knowledge you have)


There are other points to look out for, but these are the main ones.



You know now how to spot a great copywriter, but how do you hire one?


1) Know the Pricing Structures and Rates: 

With a copywriter, you can pay 3 ways:

  1. By the Hour (most common)
  2. By Project
  3. By Performance

By the Hour:

Paying by the hour is the most common way to pay a copywriter.  I believe this is due to simply tradition.  You hear online, etc. about freelancers working “by the hour.”


-You can pay lower rates

-You can track if the copywriter is getting more efficient

-It puts pressure on the copywriter not to waste time (as psychology is on your side since a broke freelancer doesn’t want to overcharge and lose you as a client.)


-You don’t know what you’ll be charged (you think it takes 10 hours, your copywriter takes 20.  Your budget is shot).

-Hourly usually attracts lower quality, less ambitious copywriters.  (see sites like Elance/Upwork, Guru etc.)

I recommend charging per project.  There’s going to be a learning curve as the copywriter learns your business and audience.  Don’t pay for that learning curve.  Also, smart copywriters charge per project (i.e. good copywriters.)

By Project:


-You know exactly how much a project costs (no invoice sticker shock)

-You attract better, smarter copywriters

-You aren’t paying for the learning curve as they learn your business and audience

-Psychologically, a copywriter doesn’t have to worry about time and thus can devote all energy to your work.


-Usually a bit more expensive

-Can’t track if a copywriter is getting more efficient (you simply have to judge by how work performs)

Again, I recommend charging per project.

By Performance:

This is a bit more extreme, but there are copywriters out there who do this.  It’s usually packaged as, “Pay us and if you don’t get the results, we’ll refund you.”  This can be both good and bad.


-It’s a “gun to head” tactic for the copywriter. They perform or they don’t eat.

-You don’t have to pay unless you see results. Risk-free for you.

-You’ll get copywriters who want to perform not just earn

-No cash upfront (as you pay when you get sales)


-As with all commission-based positions, you will have a lot of turnover (a lot of hiring the right copywriters but it’s tough to sustain)

-Most expensive

-Sometimes ethics can go by the wayside

-Harder to get lots of candidates

This is tricky as it’s a matter of choosing what works for you.  You’ll have a harder time looking for a good volume of copywriters here, but you might find the diamond in the rough.

How Much?

The price you pay a copywriter is going to vary based on many factors: Experience, knowledge of the craft, knowledge of industry, results.  

I’m not going to touch too much on this as it will vary with each copywriter and each project.  Here’s a simple guideline:

Beginner Copywriter:

Expect to pay $10-25 per hour

Per word, expect to pay 0.05-0.20c per word

Intermediate Copywriter:

Expect to pay $30-$80 per hour

Per word, expect to pay 0.25c – 0.50c per word

Expert Copywriter:

Expect to pay $90-$500+ per hour (consulting is also an option that can go much higher)

Per word, expect to pay 0.75c-$2.00+ per word (mega experts have no ceiling)

2) If you have a great copywriter, make sure you refer them business (or keep ’em busy):

Most smaller businesses are not going to need copywriters all the time.  If you can refer your copywriter business from your network.  Freelancing can be a feast or famine business (income can fluctuate big time) . If you don’t keep your copywriter happy and valued, when your copywriter gets work, he will have to turn down your work.

Copywriters are hard to find.  Actually, GREAT copywriters are hard to find.  Hold tight to them.

3) We’re looking to help grow your business with you.

This could also be an attribute of a great copywriter.  We want to work WITH you.  We’re not looking for 1 project, we want to grow your business with multiple projects.

We become “part owners” in your business.  You should have copywriters that take ownership of your business.

The more we care, we better we write.





Direct Mail that Sells more for your Company

direct mail
Oh, how times have changed

When I open my mailbox (physical..not email) I pull out the pile. Usually Tues or Wed is “Ad” day, as my neighbor Betty called it.

“Ad” day is essentially the coupon magazines from the local grocery stores and the “Ad Pages” magazine. Then, as most Americans, I either pile the mail up in the designated “mail” spot in the house (my wife does NOT approve of this evolving area) or we sort the mail over the trash can.

The famous copywriter Gary Halbert said “Most Americans sort their mail over the trash can. They put the A pile on the counter to open and the B pile is trashed without opening.”

What gets trashed?

Perhaps those crummy newspaper-style ads announcing the grocery specials, or the blatant pitches from the likes of DirecTV, SiriusXM and the like.

My favorite: The mail addressed to: “Valued Customer.” (Yes, I feel valued…you don’t even know my name…)

Why do we sort like this?

Because the retailers are doing 1 thing with direct mail…SHOUTING AT US! “BUY OUR $&#%.”
Unfortunately, this approach doesn’t work well anymore. Just like cold-calling…


Because we’re in the information age. Technology’s growing so we always want more INFORMATION. You can thank Google and Facebook and others for this. It’s addicting to get more and more information. That’s why you check FB 100x a day.

                                           HERE’S WHAT WORKS FOR DIRECT MAIL:


– Educate your customer. Not on the benefits. On WHY it makes their life easier and better.
– Answer the question going on in their head.

EXAMPLE: JCPenney is struggling now. They’re a staple of the American store dating pre-WWI.

What are people (MOMS) thinking about Sept-ish…Christmas presents!
“What do I get my children.”

Parents HATE the process of trying to figure out what their 13-year old wants (outside of video games)

Why doesn’t JCPenney send out a mailer : “Already stressing about what your kids want for Christmas? We’ll make it easy for you. ….”

direct mail

They then build sites for : BOYS 3-10, GIRLS 3-10 etc. They direct Moms to these sites. When they are there, they can save what they want. GUESS WHO THEY WILL END UP BUYING IT FROM??

Yes, JCPenney…


Because JCPenney took the time and HELPED the Moms…NOT “Buy our $%&*”
We trust the companies who help us (Amazon ships our stuff to us ASAP and for free plus their customer service is incredible. Case and point.)  Direct mail can work for your company.

Of course, this is just an idea off the top of my head (my wife is already asking what I want for Christmas…hint hint).

Direct Mail is not dead. It’s just done as if it’s 1990. More companies are moving away from it. Now’s the chance to strike again.  Improve your copy i.e. what your customer wants, and you’ll see results right away.

Get the Most Traffic to your Content – How to Write Headlines that Attract Prospects

Everyone will be reading your content

Your headline (whether you know or like it) is THE most important piece to your content you produce for yourself or for your clients for driving traffic.

It’s proven we skim over headlines until we find one that sucks you in.  Look at the Upworthy or Buzzfeed.

They write some damn catchy headlines.  Suddenly, you care about what Justin Bieber did over the weekend.  You feel ashamed, but it’s because they did something with their headline that sucked you in.

Writing a great headline is a dangerous weapon…use it well.

But also smart.

If you write great headlines with horrible content, your SEO will take a MAJOR hit.  How does Google know?

Usually, by your bounce rate and time on the site.  If they find your content and are on the site for 5 seconds and thousands of people do this, then Google says:

Damn, that headline is catchy, but the content is crummy. Flag it!

Let’s repeat:

Awesome Sauce Headline Attract Traffic, but Awesome Sauce Content Keeps them Interested.  Raise your Traffic and SEO with Sweet Headlines + Catchy Content.

Let’s dig in:

5 Templates that Produce the Best Headlines:

1) How-To ________: By far, the best headline that you can never go wrong with: How to do something.  As humans, we are naturally curious and want to discover.

We don’t like being told what to do, we like to discover. 

A How-to article captures that.  With your piece of content, pull out the main benefits of that piece.  If a plumber has a 500 word post on the correct way to plunge your toilet.

 “How to Plunge your Toilet Properly and Quickly (before your Date wonders where you went)”.

Easy, provides a benefit, and even people who don’t have a clogged toilet will be interested as they’ve been in that situation.

2) The Curiosity Play: You’ll see this most often on Buzzfeed.  You aren’t necessarily receiving valuable know-how, but perhaps something that would be good to show off to friends later.

“A Bear attacked a campsite today, you won’t believe what a little baby did to make the bear run away scared.  (He saved Everyone).

You’re not going to pull any special knowledge from a post like this, but you just GOTTA know what the baby did!  Make sure it is worthwhile and use this tool for only great ploys or else you become the ‘Boy who Cried Wolf’ and no one will believe your headlines.

3) Help the Reader Achieve a Goal: You’ve seen the ads: Lose 25 lbs in 25 minutes!

Everyone has goals in the conscious and subconscious mind they hope to hit (someday).  We are always looking for shortcuts, unfortunately, and thus when someone is overweight and they see the above headline, they go for it.

Even if it feels impossible. There’s hope that springs eternal.

You provide that hope.  What does your piece of content provide that may help someone achieve a goal?

For a roofer:

“Your house will sell for 30% more if you make these changes to your roof.”

Not a great headline for apartment dwellers or non-homeowners, but someone like me, who does own a home, I OF COURSE want to know how to make my house more valuable so I get more when I sell it.  (Your house is a money pit anywhere, right?…Another time…)

4) Ask a Question going on in a Customer’s Mind: There are some headlines (like 1 + 2 above) that could seemingly not be targeted to a certain group, but this one requires a bit more psychology to pull off.

Think about any of your customers. Think about the questions you get on a daily basis or the worries of your customers and craft a headline based on that.

For a small business owner who uses Quickbooks:

“What did Jim from TX do to cut his time using Quickbooks by 50% this year and now his CPA loves him? (Hint: He didn’t hire a bookkeeper)”

This is a mix of a couple of the 5 Bullets here.  You put in the question and add a touch of curiosity.  For someone who doesn’t use Quickbooks, you may not care, but a productivity expert might be interested.  A small business owner using Quickbooks (even better, HATES spending Sunday’s doing the bookkeeping) would jump on this article.

Grade this headline from the blog

5) Let the Reader “Discover” a New Concept or Idea: Look back to point #1.  As humans, we like to generally figure things out ourselves and not have to be told something (guys asking for directions).  In your headline, highlight what the reader will know AT THE END of the content piece.  It’s a hybrid of “how-to” and more a “fun surprise.”

Discover the Secrets 10 Millionaires used to make their First Million.

Usually, you are providing some sort of informational facts or figures (or a topical event if it’s more a gossip site).

Grade this headline from the blog.

What do pretty much all these headlines have in common?

They involve opening up a “curiosity” in the reader’s mind.  We don’t like NOT knowing what is going to happen or what is something.  Again, even if it’s a dumb fact about Justin Bieber, we HAVE to know.

You simply need to make them feel the NEED to have to know the answer.

Just 5 minutes ago, my wife and I were talking about books and we both used to feel : If we open up a book and read, we have to finish the book.

However, we realized….Life’s too short to do that, just put the book down and find another one. But my wife, Sam, made an interesting comment.  It relates to what we’re talking about: Opening up a curiosity element.

“If it’s a mystery, I have to turn to end and see whodunit.”

The Curiosity Element at play!!

Go out and do the same!