How to find the right freelance copywriter isn’t easy who there are so many different types of copywriter and copywriting rates out there, let alone the sheer volume of people to choose from…
The other month on LinkedIn, someone posted ‘Can anyone recommend a good freelance copywriter, please?’
Result? She was inundated with 87 responses in 19 days. (OK, some of them were thanking those who’d made recommendations but, even so, how painful/time-consuming for the poor woman.)
I don’t know if she found what she wanted, or at what point she stopped bothering to look.
I was one of the copywriters recommended. But for what, exactly?
There are as many different types and styles of freelance copywriter as there are shades of grey. So what do you want one for? Direct mail? A radio ad? Tone of voice exercise? A website? Social media????????
The tighter the brief, the tighter the results. Here are 10 key things to consider in this blog on ‘How to find the right freelance copywriter’ when looking for Mr, Miss or Mrs Right.
Do you need them to have a wide range of sector expertise?
Financial clients may want a financial copywriter. Ditto for medical or technical expertise. If a product or service is highly complicated, such as swaps or cataract eye surgery, then choosing a specialist writer may make sense. But by choosing a copywriter with a diverse portfolio, you’re more likely to get added value through the benefit of their experience on other market challenges. And a fresher approach.
How much do they charge?
Sticky area, this. Asking a copywriter this question before anything else really is a no-no. You really can’t judge and compare a freelancer based on an hourly or daily rate. How much experience do they have? Can they add value in any way? And as for asking someone to cost by the word, well that’s how journalists price work.
I prefer to charge by the project. In other words, my time spent in understanding the brand, going through the brief, thinking through concepts, writing and making client revisions. Oh, and time spent on phone and emails.
I was contacted the other week by a new client who said his daily budget was half my rate. But we discussed the project and I assured him I could do the job in half the time he’d allowed. (Which is what you get with experience.)
How much can you afford?
If you have a limited budget, then just say so upfront. I often get calls about writing blogs because the client knows how having fresh, well written content will help with SEO but…..what they inevitably want are blogs churned out for chips. (I’m afraid I don’t offer this pile ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap style of blogging so please, pleeeease don’t call me if that’s what you’re after.)
Do they reply to your email enquiry right away?
In your quest in how to find the right freelance copywriter, it’s not just their work that counts but their professional attitude too. You should expect a reply within 24 hours (weekends don’t count – it’s simply not fair to make a business enquiry out of office hours) or at least an email to say ‘Just at a meeting but will get back to you by x’. It’s common courtesy. It hopefully also indicates that the copywriter is reliable and efficient.
Does it matter where they’re based?
It depends on your preferences. A meeting is just brilliant for discussions in detail – but thank goodness for Skype. I wrote a number of articles over six months for Career.com in Chicago and never, ever once spoke to my client! She was happy to do everything by email.
Do you need them to work on site?
One Soho ad agency MD I know always gets freelancers into the office because if they finish what’s needed, they can help out on something else while in situ. The good news for us freelancers, though, is that being on site works both ways: a copywriter friend went in to Karmarama for a few days and is still there, several months later.
I must confess that I prefer working from home rather than at an agency working nine-to-five because I get mountains more done (and no, I don’t watch day time TV or get distracted!). Trust me, I’d rather spend my working day working rather than waste time commuting on a sardine-stuffed tube.
How do they send back an estimate?
Do they briefly dump costs in a short email, or take the time and effort to pull together a succinct proposal with their experience and terms included? (Read more about being efficient and responsive in my blog on copywriting skills.)
Can they think strategically, add value and give a fresh perspective?
I was approached recently by a client setting up a new business selling hot tubs. He sent quite a long email about his business but I felt some of the thinking was flawed. So I challenged a few points rather than just send an estimate. He asked me to explain a little more what I meant. He then replied saying, ‘I will almost certainly get you started, purely as you have raised some valid points that were unexpected. After all, not many copywriters provide feedback, but rather just reply regardless. So this is very much appreciated.’
It’s a needle-fine line; clients shouldn’t expect a meaty chunk of advice upfront for nothing. But if a copywriter takes the time to ask a few questions/make a few suggestions, then it demonstrates knowledge and interest. It gives you an idea of what they’d be like to work with and confidence therefore in how to find the right freelance copywriter .
Can they help with SEO?
Do you need a tuned-in SEO copywriter to also sort out your keywords or write your page titles and page descriptors? SEO is best left to the experts but a skilled writer can help with these key essentials. No-one can claim to know everything (but if they think a long-tail is what you find on a cat, steer clear).
Do they have a designer they can work with?
Big plus. Saves you having to spend more time trawling. A good copywriter should only recommend people they’ve worked with before (so do check) and feel 110% happy with.
So if you’re looking for a freelance copywriter to write your website, brochure or video script etc etc to help turn your brand around, then specify what you need. Otherwise you too will just be bombarded….
Written by Caroline Gibson, freelance copywriter. Still wondering how to find the right freelance copywriter? Wonder no more – get in touch.
E: firstname.lastname@example.org. T: +44 (0) 7957 567766