Your probably think the “weight in gold” bit in the title is a hyperbole, an exaggeration.
Well, it’s not.
When you hire the right freelance copywriters, you can move mountains together (that was an exaggeration). On a less dramatic note: the right copywriter can make or break any marketing campaign. I’ve seen both things happen countless times.
I’m sad to say that I, too, had to hire freelance copywriters only to fire them days later. Why? Because my hiring process was faulty.
I’m not proud of it, but there was a time when I didn’t treat this as a priority. Having worked as a freelance copywriter myself, I thought we all spoke the same language.
That was one of my biggest mistakes ever.
Since the smartest people learn from others’ mistakes, here’s your opportunity to learn from mine: when you search for freelance copywriters or interview them, remember that the hundreds of 5-star reviews they have mean next to nothing.
Different employers have different standards. Hence the huge difference in freelancers’ ethics and expertize. I wrote a lot about freelance copywriters who are just interesting in grabbing the money, so I won’t repeat it here.
For the purpose of this article, I’m going to assume that you expect superb quality from the copywriting services you are paying for and that you already know the value of authority content, as well as the non-value of the typical 500-word keyword stuffed blog post.
If you recognize yourself in the above paragraph, it’s time to get serious about hiring freelance copywriters that are worth their name. Here’s the process.
How to Hire Freelance Copywriters Who Can Boost Your Revenue
I’ve made no secret out of the fact that we hire freelance copywriters at Idunn. Some of them work with us full-time, while others are project-based.
In order to have a great staff, I interview freelance copywriters myself. I handle every part of the process, from job ads to the assigning the first project.
And, as I painstakingly learned, it’s not an easy process. It’s one I perfected over time, with a lot of trial and error.
Know What You Need
I agree that this part may be easier for agencies. When we hire freelance copywriters, we know typically know what to expect from them and even what projects they will start working on.
We also know the standards that we expect them to live up to. At Idunn, we have them clearly documented.
But even if that’s not your case, it doesn’t mean you can’t hire the best freelance copywriters.
You just need a bit of extra work.
First off, define the level of complexity of the copy and try to quantify the amount of work it will take to complete it. This way, the freelance writers can give you an adequate quote.
Make sure everything is set in stone. If you say you need four landing pages and then add ten blog posts to the mix, it will create havoc. It’s OK to demand extra work from the freelance copywriter you hire (most of them will welcome it), but take it one step at a time.
Find the Right Specialist
At Idunn, we hire freelance copywriters who excel in all these fields and more. Plus a few that specialize on tech writing.
What they all have in common is a marketing background or, at least, a strong understanding of marketing. I know the engineer who writes the best and most in-depth tech blogs and white papers for our clients is not the best person for other clients in the beauty field. But I also know that he can do an amazing job writing for both cabling companies and SaaS ones. That’s because he can easily grok buyer personas.
My advice is to always look for marketing experience. SEO copywriters can learn how to do keyword research. But it’s harder to teach them the basics of marketing.
Set Your Budget
I strongly advise paying per project and not per hour. It’s very hard to estimate how long the freelance copywriter you hired will take to write something. Just to give you an idea, a recent report shows that the average blog post takes 3 hours and 20 minutes to write. But also that in 2017, bloggers spent 39% more time on a single post.
Image via Orbit Media
This not only shows the increased demand for relevant, top quality content, but also illustrates why the cost of copywriting services has risen lately. So, whatever your budget, you need to understand that what you pay is what you get.
Let’s say that a piece of content has an 100x return on investment. I could easily argue that bad copy won’t just have a ZERO ROI, but it will also deter clients from buying your products. However, for the sake of the argument, let’s say every piece of content from every freelance copywriter you hire has that potential.
If you pay $5 for a blog post, you will get $500 back. Not very bad, right?
But if you pay $100 for that blog post, you will get $10,000. Now that’s a different story altogether!
According to CopyHacker, the size in project cost for hired freelance copywriters is steadily increasing every year.
Image via CopyHacker
Ask for Samples
Most freelance writers are delighted to show you their work. It’s their moment to shine and brag about it!
As I previously said, don’t trust the reviews. Trust what you can see.
Ask for samples as close as possible to your niche. Check the websites those samples are posted on to see how they do. What is their DA? How much traffic do they get? Get as much info you can before you sign that check.
Think about Long Term Cooperation
If you find and hire a freelance copywriter who can easily adapt to your tone of voice and boost your revenue, why would you give that relationship up?
Ask if the freelancer copywriter you plan to hire is available for a long term commitment from the very beginning. This is a lesson I learned the hard way.
I simply assumed that all copywriters for hire are up for long term gigs. And I found myself picking up the slack when they told me they weren’t. It made for a few sleepless nights, so now I always ask in advance.
I also ask about their availability. How much time per day they can dedicate to Idunn projects or how many words in a given field they can write every day are just two of the questions I always ask.
Of course, this also means that I have to keep up my end of the deal. You see, freelance copywriters for hire, much like any other human, have a limited time to work every day. And they like to be paid for their time.
Briefly put: if you’re not sure that you can keep them busy for the upcoming months, don’t mess up their schedule just because you might need extra work and you like to cover your bases. No one likes to waste time. Time really is money.
One last thing year: if you value the freelance copywriter you hire, tell them so. No one expects you to show up with a marching band. But a recognition of their effort and a “what a great job!” every once in a while can take you a long way. In my experience, this is how you become a writer’s favorite client.
Inquire about Their Process
At Idunn, we have a clear process for any copywriting gig. Research the buyer persona, research the topic, write, edit, revise.
In time, we managed to make this process seamless for all our clients. We work independently and, due to our team of marketing and copywriting professionals, we require very little of the client’s time.
However, when you hire freelance copywriters, you need to know that not everyone has a huge team to back them up. This is why you need to inquire about their process.
Everyone works at a different pace and needs a different level of input to get the job done right. Before you hire your freelance copywriter, make sure you know exactly what that process entails and how much of your time it will take.
Otherwise, you may end up spending more time on the brief your copywriter sends you than it would have taken to write everything yourself.
Ask about Revisions
This is a sensitive point. No matter how good the freelance copywriter your hire is, you may still need some revisions.
Ideally, no one should ask for extra money for this kind of work. In a perfect world, when you hire freelance copywriters, their ultimate goal should be your satisfaction.
But we don’t live in a perfect world, do we?
Much to my dismay, I learned that there still are copywriters who charge extra for revisions or who offer a limited number of revisions.
While I understand that the latter is a means of protection – we all know that difficult clients are never happy –, I also know that, at Idunn, we never had that problem. This is why we still offer an unlimited number of revision within the initial fee. We know from experience that we can get it right the first time or, in exceptional cases, after the first revision.
Explain Your Objectives Clearly
“We need 1000 words on choosing the perfect family van.”
OK, great. But what is the goal of those 1000 words? What should the reader do after reading the 1000 words? Should they book an appointment with your dealership? Should they use your on-site payment calculator?
The best copy is the kind that aligns with your business goals. In fact, it’s the only kind that will generate revenue.
So don’t be too secretive about your business or marketing objectives when you hire freelance copywriters. Tell them what you need and they will do their best to deliver it.
Otherwise, you will have wasted your money on copy that is good, but useless. Yes, there is such a thing!
This is one of the things I care about most when I hire freelance copywriters: respecting deadlines. We made a reputation out of never delivering our work late and I want to keep it that way.
When the copywriters can’t deliver in time, I (or another team member) pick up the slack. But I also make sure it never happens again.
If you have very strict deadlines, I recommend setting them a few days early for newly hired freelance copywriters. Just until you know for sure they take deadlines seriously. For instance, if you want to publish your blog post on a Friday, ask the writer to have it done by Wednesday.
This way, you’ll have time for revisions. And, if the work isn’t submitted on the agreed date, you’ll still have time to resort to plan B.
Unless you like sleepless nights, of course.
Offer Valuable Feedback
“It’s good but not great.”
“It’s not exactly what we were looking for.”
“I need it to be more professional.”
These are all excellent openings for your feedback, but they are never enough. If you want your next revision to be exactly what you needed, tell the writer that.
Unfortunately, not even the best of copywriters can be mind-readers (not all the time, at least). So tell them what they did wrong and what they did well.
For instance, “I want it to be more professional” should translate to “Cut down on the friendly tone of voice a bit”. Similarly, “It’s not exactly what we were looking for” should continue with “Can you make the point of difference more clear and link to a study from a trusted source?”
In time, you will need to spell things out less. But when you first hire a freelance copywriter, you need to offer detailed feedback. This will ease your work in the upcoming months. It takes time to get to know each other and it takes time for the writer to understand exactly what you expect from them.
But when these things click together – oh, boy, do wonderful things happen!
Wrapping Things Up
You shouldn’t set out to simply hire freelance copywriters, but to hire amazing freelance copywriters! Yes, it may take some time (and plenty of patience!) to separate the wheat from the chaff, but it’s all worth it.
The first copywriter you hire may not work out. It happens. Maybe the second one won’t be perfect, either. But any great relationship is hard to find, so hang in there!
Want to hire freelance copywriters who have already been heavily tested and vetted? You have come to the right place! We take hiring seriously, so you won’t have to go through the tedium of the vetting process yourself. Just fill in the form below and let’s get started on that amazing copy that will transform your business.