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.

 

HOW YOU CAN PICK OUT A GREAT COPYWRITER:

  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 message..it’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.

 

GUIDE TO HIRING THE RIGHT COPYWRITER:

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.”

Benefits:

-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.)

Disadvantages:

-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:

Benefits:

-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.

Disadvantages:

-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.

Benefits:

-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)

Disadvantages:

-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.

 

 

DID I MISS ANYTHING? COMMENT BELOW YOUR STORIES OF HIRING THE RIGHT  COPYWRITER AND YOUR TIPS.