How to Hire a Copywriter: the essentials you need to know

Written by Kerry Campion de Santiago

Ready to outsource your copywriting in 2021, but aren’t sure how you actually hire a copywriter to help you? I got you covered.

As the dust settles on the flaming garbage that is 2020, you might have decided that 2021 is going to be YOUR year. It’ll be the year of growing your business and scaling, so some strategic and clever like outsourcing is in order.

If you’ve landed on this article it’s probably because part of that outsourcing involves hiring a copywriter.
I’m going to give you the run through on how to hire the perfect copywriter for your business and hit 2021 in the gut with your awesomeness.

How to Hire the RIGHT Copywriter

First things first, before you even start a proper search for your copywriter it’s important to understand what type of copywriter you need to hire. This will make sure that you’re hiring someone with expertise in the exact area that you need help with.

There are lots of different types of copywriters and some generalists who do a bit of everything. Depending on your business goals, you’ll need one type of copy more than another.

Here are some different types of copywriters:

  • SEO Copywriter/Content Writers (that’s me, hi there!)
    • We write copy and content that help new leads find you through search engines: loved by humans and Google alike.
  • Launch Copywriters
    • They help businesses launch new products, offers and services
  • Ecommerce Copywriters
    • Think product descriptions and the like
  • Case Study Copywriters
    • So helpful!  These copywriters write up amazing transformation and success stories from your customers (the best type of PR). Check out my buddy Amanda if you’re interested in these.
  • Email Copywriters (also me, hey there!)
    • We write strategic email campaigns that nurture subscribers through the stages of awareness to prepare them for a sale
  • Script Writers
    • If you do YouTube and agonize over writing your video scripts, a video script copywriter can help you with that.
  • Social Media Content Writer
    • If you need to boost engagement on your social media channels a social media content writer can be a great asset to your business
  • Press Release Copywriters
    • These copywriters help get more media mentions for your business
  • General Copywriter
    • Jack of all trades…GREAT at all of them. Don’t assume someone is “bad” because they aren’t a specialist. General copywriters will cover things from sales page, landing pages, Facebook ads, brochures and all of the above.

So, before you decide to just go out and hire any old copywriter, read through that list and see what kind of copywriter you really need. Getting specific can help you scope out the perfect copywriter to help you achieve your business goals.

Not sure what type of copywriter you need?

Send me a message right here and tell me about what you need help with – I’ll recommend who you should be looking for. I can also check my extensive network and recommend someone for you.

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How much do Copywriters Charge?

Like most service providers, it’s hard to find a copywriter who has their full price list on their website.

Why?

  • Their projects are so varied that each package is unique
  • They prefer to talk to someone first and explain their value before they discuss prices
  • They may update their prices relatively regularly so it’d be a pain to change it all the time on their site

I’m pro “prices on my website” – so if you’re curious you can check out my SEO content writing prices or my email campaign prices.

As for everyone else? It’s very hard for me to throw out some figures because it depends on the level of experience, geographic location and the niche of the copywriter.

The only thing I can say is that copywriting services can have a very significant ROI, so take that into consideration when you get a quote.

If you want to get an idea of what copywriters generally charge then check out my article how much it costs to hire a copywriter.

The Copybrief – why it’s important when hiring a copywriter

One thing I will not write copy without is the copybrief, and most other copywriters will be the exact same.

Even if you find a copywriter who understands you niche and the type of copy you need, they can’t write exactly what you need without creating a solid copybrief.

What the heck is a copybrief?

It’s sometimes known as a creative brief, basically it’s a meeting between the copywriter and client to discuss the project, your business and your customers.

It’s what allows us to really dig deep into your business, niche and the problems you solve for your customers.

Some things I like to ask in my brief include:

  • What problem were you trying to solve when you started your business?
  • What’s the biggest struggle your customers have?
  • What questions do they ask you most often?
  • What is their ultimate vision of success? How do you help them get there?

Questions like these can be hard to answer on the fly, that’s I why I usually let my clients mull over them before our meeting.

I ask these because copy that isn’t backed up with the end customer in mind will be irrelevant, copy that doesn’t sound like your brand will sound off and empathy needs to be at the heart of what I write.

Once I’ve completed the brief, voice analysis (where I analyse your brand voice so I can sound like you) and market research THEN I start writing.

In short, the copybrief is an essential part of the process and helps avoid lots of revisions down the line.

Make sure your copywriter has a strong briefing process

How do you pay a copywriter?

As many copywriter’s work remotely and service clients worldwide you might be wondering how we charge our clients and how invoicing works.

I’m based in the European Union (France to be exact), but I have clients from the USA and Canada and the system we use is Stripe.

I’ve found that this is the norm for most copywriters who work with international clients and it allows you to pay us in a couple of clicks.

You’ll also find that for projects that go above a certain threshold (like more than €500) the invoice will be split into two.

You’ll pay a 50% commencement invoice and once we deliver the first or second version of the copy we’ll charge the other 50%.

Why not charge it all at once?

Usually it’s to cover any change of scope during the project. For instance, I’ve had clients ask me to write some more copy for them while we were in the middle of a current project.

Instead of invoicing them separately, I just added it onto the final 50% of the original invoice.

As far as I’m aware that’s very common for most copywriters, personally if a project is less than €500 I charge it all in one-go.

Terms & Conditions when hiring a copywriter

If you hire a copywriter make sure they have some type of contract for you to sign: this is to protect both you and them.

If you get into a retainer agreement (more on that below) it’s important to understand when both parties should be delivering things like assets (what the copywriter might need to do their work) and when the copy will be delivered.

It also helps keep things clear about who is responsible for what and what steps should be followed if either person wants to end the contract.

Having a solid contract in place will help avoid problems down the road. It protects both the client and the copywriter – make sure you read any agreement before you sign it

Usually the copywriter will have their own contracts so you don’t need to worry about having to get one done yourself.

Hire a copywriter on retainer vs one-off project

Retainer Contract: a regular working relationship  between a client and a copywriter. The copywriter produces regular work for the client and both are bound by a long-term working contract.

Another important thing about hiring a copywriter is deciding if you need regular work or just a one-off project.

For instance, most of the clients who hire me to do their SEO blog content do so with a retainer agreement because they need regular content and it comes with a discount.

It’s quite normal to get a small discount for retainer agreements because it’s regular work, so some things from our usual quote can be axed.

A one-off project is just that: you pay the copywriter to complete a specific project once and then when the project is finished your working relationship comes to an end.

I usually won’t get into a retainer agreement without having first worked with a client on a one-off project. This is good practice because it’s important to see how well you work together first before making any type of commitment.

Every copywriter will have their own system for reviewing retainers. I like to meet with my retainer clients once every three months to see if they want to renew for another three months.

This gives us a great opportunity to discuss any changes in scope, sometimes they want to hand over more of their copywriting to me so I can then update the retainer agreement going forward.

Before getting into a retainer agreement ask your copywriter if they have a system for reviewing the contract and how often you’ll be discussing your working relationship.  

What skills should you look for in a copywriter?

Okay I’m about to get really passionate here.

One thing that I hate, despise and LOATHE is when people think being a good writer is enough to be a good copywriter.

via GIPHY

Being a good writer is an absolute given; it’s the bare minimum you could ask of a copywriter.

When hiring a copywriter bear this in mind: it’s not enough to just be a good writer. Being a good writer is the minimum you could ask for. Copywriters need an understanding of marketing, human behaviour and how to influence people with words.

A good copywriter works in the field of marketing , so it only follows that they need to have a solid understanding of that field to do their jobs properly.

It’ll depend a bit on what they write, but good copywriting has much more in common with good marketing and human psychology than simply being creative.

Again: being a good writer is literally the bare minimum.

I don’t want to downplay that though. Of course they to be a very skilled writer, but if they can’t do market research, if they have no idea how to persuade people to take action, if they don’t know how to use proven copywriting formulas…

via GIPHY

Take my field for instance.

As an SEO Copywriter, I need to have an intimate understanding of how Google reads content and how people are searching for it. So when I write a piece of content marketing I need to:

  • Do extensive market research to see what type of content will actually resonate with the audience.
  • Conduct voice of customer data so I can reflect their own desires, questions and objections right back at them
  • Think about how I’m constructing links around the content and what I’m putting in those links
  • Do competitor research to see what’s working for them and where we can find opportunities
  • Find keywords that will:
    • Be competitive enough to go after, without being unreasonable for the Domain authority of the site I’m writing for
    • Reflect the stage of customer awareness that we’re gunning for
    • Be a perfect fit to write content around
    • Reflect the type of searcher intent that we’re looking for
  • Create an empathy map so I’m putting the reader and their needs first
  • Distribute keywords in a natural way in the content
  • Sprinkle in secondary keywords

Then I write.

So if you’re about to hire a copywriter and the only skill they really seem to have is that they’re “a good writer” I wouldn’t waste my time.

You need someone who can get you ROI, not someone who writes pretty words.

Where to look for a copywriter

So, now that you’re clear on what to look for, what skills a copywriter should have and how payment works the final question is: where do you hire a copywriter?

You could go to popular freelancing sites like Fiverr or Upwork but personally…I would avoid these sites.

Not because there aren’t great copywriters on there, but they’re usually buried beneath an enormous slush pile of “I’ll do it for cheaper!” type freelancers.

So if you’re prepared to do some serious digging to find the rare gems then go for it.

Alternatively, you can reach out to awesome copywriting coaches like Belinda Weaver who regularly shares jobs with her community of copywriters over at Confident Copywriters.

Another option would be to put a shout-out on social media. You’d be surprised how many service providers are following you, I actually signed a retainer client because she asked on her Instagram stories if anyone knew of any copywriters.

And I was like…

via GIPHY

Looking to hire an SEO Content writer?

If you’re a course creator who needs more of your ideal humans to discover your content (and *cough* your course *cough*) then feel free to check out my SEO content writing packages.

As you’ve just read, my process goes way beyond words on a page to create a strategic and cohesive content marketing strategy.

And if you’re worried about SEO taking over the actual content – I’d like to point out that THIS article has been optimized around my target keyword. I don’t do keyword-stuffed monstrosities that turn people off reading.

But if you’re looking for a different kind of copywriter – hit me up and I’ll ask in my network if anyone can help you out.

Contact me to find a copywriter.

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