If you’re thinking of hiring a copywriter, first of all – yay! – you’re starting to realise how important the right words are to your business (hint: very important). Second of all, just check yourself a minute.
Yes, I’m suggesting you slow down.
Have a little think about the real reason you’re hiring a copywriter.
If it’s because you know your copy isn’t ‘you’, or needs work, or isn’t doing its job, that’s the stuff. However, if you’re planning it because someone else said you should, not so much.
Also – and this is a biggie – ask yourself whether you’re ready to let go of your ‘baby’ long enough for the copywriter to get in the zone, breathe your brand, spread their wings and do their thing.
If there’s 2 things which crush a copywriter’s soul and/or drive them to the unhealthy habit of banging their head on their desk, it’s these 2 things. And they both sit squarely with you, the client. The decision maker. The boss, in this possible new business partnership.
Thing 1: You don’t know what you want.
This one is un-arguementable (no, that’s not really a word). It’s non-negotiable. It’s a project killer.
Just take the wisdom of a seasoned copywriter. Accept there’s a fair chance you haven’t thought through what you want the copy to do. (It’s OK: admitting it is the first step.) You might be hiring a copywriter because your business coach – who you trust – told you you need one or you simply hate writing stuff that has to go on the internet. And these are OK places to start but we can’t stay there. Which is why my processes have a little bit of ground work included – like a good renovation – not a Spakfilla and paint over jobbie.
Thing 2: You don’t know what copywriting is.
It’s a creative skill, but it’s not creative writing. It’s not content writing, but it includes content. No wonder you’re confused.
Part of a copywriter’s job is educating prospects about what we do, setting and managing your expectations, and pointing out to you the boundary lines between our job and someone else’s job.
At the end of the day, though: it’s your business.
We tell you what you need to know, even when it’s not what you want to hear (#awkward). We can’t force you to take our advice.
When you don’t have Thing 1 and Thing 2 under control, it makes the copywriter’s job difficult, and has a definite potential for both of you to feel frustrated through the whole process. Because I’ve learned while people don’t always know what they want, they’re usually quick to tell you what they don’t want: even if they can’t explain why. (Which brings me back to the soul-crushing, head-banging part where you let Thing 1 and Thing 2 make you go crazy.)
Don’t worry, I’m not going to point the finger at you and leave it at that – that’s not who I am. A copywriter writes the words you use to represent and define your business, your brand – both big parts of yourself. I get that. The trick here is to find a copywriter you’ll trust to do the job.
Here’s how to hire a copywriter and then trust them to do the job.
1. Find an actual expert.
Step 1 in choosing a copywriter you trust is not choosing someone who isn’t a master of their craft. That usually means investment – financial investment: and those are the terms you need to use when you think of it.
Good copywriters don’t charge peanuts and they’re not often available within 24 hours. A cheap copywriter isn’t generally a good copywriter who chooses to charge less. And not all copywriters excel in the same areas; this is why you need to know what you want. Also, there’s this – anyone can call themselves a copywriter. So you, the prospect, need to be wise. How do you do this? You get proof.
2. Check testimonials.
If a copywriter doesn’t have testimonials, it’s a red flag. They’re either very new (which can sometimes be amazing, as Step 1 might be completely moot and in this instance, you can give them perhaps some less important copy to work on, see if you love their style, and let them cut their teeth on your stuff), or very crap.
All copywriters have to start somewhere, but when you want banging copy which does its job (persuades and helps convert), you don’t want a total newbie. Or someone who’s been in the game for a while and just isn’t a good copywriter.
3. Ask the right questions.
How do I maximise this? What elements are not to be fiddled with (SEO keywords, structure, etc)? How will I know these words are doing their job?
A good copywriter will have the answers to these questions, as well as questions they need to ask of you. If a copywriter is going to write your words, they need to know you, and it doesn’t happen by osmosis. If you find a copywriter on Facebook with time tomorrow, a tiny price point, who asks you zero questions about your brand and yourself – run. Run away fast.
So, let’s say you’ve found great a copywriter. The next two points are for you to take on while they’re doing the job.
3. Don’t micromanage.
There’s getting to know you (necessary) and there’s a copywriter practically being able to smell your perfume as they try to work (unnecessary and unproductive). If you have Thing 1 and Thing 2 in hand to start with, you probably won’t feel the need to micromanage. But in case micro is your management style of choice, this is for you.
Give the copywriter the time and space they need to write for you. Sending emails or calling to ‘see where they’re at’ or telling them a cool new idea you had last night are distractions and annoying. Your copywriter should a) ask you enough questions in the briefing process to allow you to jot down ALL your good ideas and b) tell you when to expect first draft and make contact with you if they need a question answered in between milestones. Unless that happens (and you should absolutely get back to them promptly if it does, because your project could stall while they wait), sin communicacion is best from your end. (That means don’t keep checking and/or updating, let them do their copywriting thing.)
4. Give brave feedback after each revision.
Yeah, I know. I’ve just said don’t micromanage. However, when you get the drafts back, that is the perfect time to break your silence. If you’re happy with the first draft – that’s gold; there’s no need to ask for revisions for the sake of it. If you’re not happy, don’t not say anything. Rather than signing off on it and changing it yourself afterwards, get the copywriter to edit it. Even the littlest copy tweaks can destroy the impact (and purpose, and conversion potential) of carefully worded persuasive copy.
5. Last of all, when you’re looking for a good copywriter, be patient.
Good copywriters worth their salt won’t be available to start on your project tomorrow. If they are (and haven’t charged you a rush rate do it) – back away quickly. It’s a sign. You might need to wait for a good copywriter to write for you, but wait you must. Trust me: I have testimonials for days, awards, and the even odd copycat to boot and I’ve fixed poor copywriting too many times. We’re worth the wait (and we have a tonne of stuff to go through with you before we start anyways, which’ll keep everyone working away to the common goal of copywriting glory).
This isn’t surgery for a rapidly growing, mean looking lump. Copywriting, while important, is rarely an emergency.
This blog was inspired by trying to write a ‘Who I Write For’ and ‘Who Don’t Write For?’ section on my copywriting page. During the hair-pulling that went with trying to annunciate one’s boundaries, I went to the smarts of Facebook for inspiration and Nicole from Black Coffee Communication shared this guest post by Cassie Lee. It helped.
For those who aren’t yet able to afford a great copywriter, I offer affordable training packages and 1:1 coaching to get you on the road to delicious, mouthwatering, back-for-more copy.
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Jay Crisp Crow + Crisp Copy
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