May 2020

Copywriters are an investment. 

Hiring the right copywriter can be the secret sauce to your successful advertising and email campaigns, the blog posts that connect (and maybe even go viral), and social media that attract the right followers. 

In short, hiring a good copywriter makes you money. 

But a good copywriter shouldn’t stop there, they should also be professional, timely, and maybe even fun to work with.

So how do you find one that will get you a return on your investment and is also great to work with? 

Here are 9 questions to ask that will help you choose a copywriter with confidence. 

  1. Do you have any favorite pieces of work you’ve done that aren’t on your website?

    As with any business owner, freelancers are juggling a ton of things at once. Sometimes that portfolio hasn’t been updated for a while, but it doesn’t mean that they’re not a stellar freelancer.

  2. Describe your onboarding process.

    Good freelancers will have a process to help them get up to speed with your company, your goals, and your industry. If they don’t have a way to do this, I’d consider it a red flag.

  3. Describe a project you’ve completed that you consider successful.

    This answer will vary dramatically for every copywriter as each copywriter has different strengths, but listen to what sort of emotions they convey. Hopefully, you’ll hear excitement and passion because that’s what makes a copywriter both effective and fun to work with.

    Follow up question: I hesitate a bit to include this because not all copywriters are privy to this information, but you could also follow-up with a question about the sort of return they see on their most successful projects. If they don’t have an answer to this, then ask about their repeat clients — if clients keep coming back to them, then they obviously are worth it.

  4. What’s your preferred method of communication and when is the best time to reach you?

    Experienced freelancers will be efficient communicators and will have thoughtful touchpoints and ways to get questions answered. They may also have some weird hours or are in different time zones, so make sure they align with your workflow as well.

  5. What’s your editing/feedback process like?

    Every project has a refining stage before it goes live. Good freelancers can handle feedback and adjustments well, but great freelancers graciously and professionally push back when they believe in their ideas. You want someone who is willing to make necessary changes but won’t get steamrolled when Steve from accounting doesn’t like the “vibe” on the content or marketing campaign.

  6. What are your turnaround times?

    It’s a good idea to clear this up from the very beginning. If you’re someone who needed content yesterday, make that clear and see if it’s even possible. Some copywriters have a packed workload, and some have breathing room to fit in urgent projects. And some will fit you in at a rush fee.

  7. Will you be sending me a proposal/estimate/contract?

    The answer you’re looking for here is ‘yes’. It’s a great sign for a copywriter to have all of their ducks in a row. Plus you’ll have a clear price point, start and end date, and know how you can use the content once it’s finished.

  8. What are your rates?

    This one can be a bit squeamish for everyone involved. But to help you prepare for what to expect, check out my blog post on how much copywriter’s cost here.

  9. Do you have references who I could call or email?

    This question isn’t essential if you already feel comfortable with the person you’re interviewing, but if you want to get the full picture of what it’s like to work with a particular copywriter, get it straight from their clients’ mouths.

With these 9 questions for your potential copywriter, you’ll have a pretty good idea if they’ll be a fit for you or not. 

What would you add to the list?

Oh, why do you ask such difficult questions? Finding out how much copywriters cost isn’t always easy — the world of freelance pricing isn’t quite the wild wild west, but it’s close. And there are so many factors — the type of work you’re looking for, the length of the project, your needed turnaround time, etc. 

But, in general, there are three ways that freelancers price projects.

 

1. By the hour.

For experienced copywriters who have training, great testimonials, and are highly professional to work with (copywriters who probably won’t be found on Upwork or Fiverr), you can expect to pay $50-$150+ per hour.  They’re the type of people you would hire to be part of your team and would want to stick around. Usually, they know their value and will deliver on it.

Many of us use time tracker apps like Harvest and keep detailed accounts of our hours worked. But the great thing about this method is that if it takes fewer hours, you pay for fewer those hours.   

 

2. By the project.

If by the hour feels too fast and loose for you, some copywriters will charge by the project. This pricing method usually has one single price and that’s what you pay no matter how long or short the project takes. Freelancers usually price out these projects by estimating how long it will take, apply their hourly rate to it, and give it to you as a fixed price. The nice thing about this way is that there’s no guesswork for you and no estimate. The price is the price.

 

3. Retainers and recurring contracts.

For companies who want a copywriter ready and available for a length of time, sometimes a retainer makes the most sense. It’s usually a set monthly fee that comes with hourly and project parameters. It’s perfect for companies who want to make their budgets easy — every month will be the same, expected price.

And then, for the really experienced ad copywriters, they’ll charge a percentage of sales made on an ad campaign they wrote. This isn’t as common but is something to be aware of as you look around for the best copywriter for your project.

 

So, how much does a copywriter cost?

The official answer is, it depends and will vary. Just make sure to be clear with your project and what your budget is, and then get an estimate upfront. But hopefully, now you have a benchmark and a clearer expectation of what your first estimate will be.

So glad you asked!

 

Over the years, I’ve had enough awkward conversations explaining I don’t do copyright law but instead write copy that I now simply describe myself as a writer. 

 

But there is a very important difference between those who write copy and those who write novels or poetry or journalism etc.

 

Copywriting is simply writing designed to sell something.

If you remember writing essays in high school, this would probably be most closely associated with those persuasive essays to convince someone your idea is best.

 

So that persuasive essay you had to write? You’d get an A if you had two things — a really strong grasp of the benefits of your argument, and a solid understanding of who you were trying to convince. 

 

Good copywriting is like that. It requires:

  1. Empathy. Lots and lots of empathy for your reader and potential buyer.
  2. Clear grasp on the benefits of what you’re selling or writing about.

 

And then as a copywriter, it’s our job to build a strong bridge of connection and emotional understanding between the reader and the product. 

 

Sometimes that bridge is short and impactful with slogans, taglines, and headers. Sometimes it’s longer and more in-depth with blog posts, promotional emails, and about pages on websites. 

 

But whatever it is, it’s about connection, understanding, and convincing.

 

If it’s done well, sales are made, but if it’s done really well, long-term relationships are built. The big brands like Nike, Ford, Apple, have done this so well, they have customers who are so devoted to the brand, they’ll only purchase their products, even if a different option may be a better fit for them.

 

Sounds crazy, but that’s the power and difference of good copywriting.