Some people dive into a relationship with a freelance copywriter full steam ahead based on gut feel, blind faith, a glowing recommendation – or a combination of all three. And that’s totally fine. In fact, I think there’s a lot to be said for following your intuition when it comes to choosing who you work with. I did exactly that when I chose Anna Matjasec to do my branding and website design (great call), and when I signed up for Claire Baker’s amazing eCourse, Wild, Well & Creative (equally great call, and opening again in 2016 if you fancy getting down and dirty with your inner artist, divine feminine and wild intuition. Yep, it was as awesome as it sounds!).
Others like to take a more calculated approach, and that’s fine too. Throwing your hard-earned cash at a copywriter and relinquishing creative control is a big deal, after all. And look, I can be organised, analytical and logic-driven with the best of them (just ask my clients – or my husband!).
In all big decisions, there’s a place for both intuition and intellect. But, for the sake of simplicity, let’s narrow it down to some key characteristics.
First of all, I’d argue that education and experience are no-brainers. And on the latter, I’d say every copywriter worth considering will absolutely have a portfolio of work and client testimonials on their website; no ifs, buts or maybes. A website minus these things will probably seem a little shady – and what seems to be, probably is.
In addition to these ‘gotta haves’, I’d also add:
1. Attention to detail
Have a look at their portfolio of work, absolutely – but also recognise that this is where they’ll be on their best behaviour. What about their own website, marketing and off-the-cuff emails? Are there errors, typos, inconsistencies? Do they use the Oxford comma in some spots, but not others? What about capitalisation? It’s easy to write this off as ‘insignificant little stuff’, but these small details add up to create an overall impression of professionalism, care and credibility (or, the opposite). And that’s what they’ll bring to your copy.
A good copywriter should be able to write about anything and everything, immersing themselves quickly and seamlessly in new industries. In fact, a good copywriter shouldn’t just be able to do this – they should LOVE to do it. A curious, keen mind coupled with a fresh set of eyes is invaluable when it comes to creating compelling content for your business. A fellow copywriter I know was absolutely delighted recently when she got to write a series of blogs for a dentist about the ins and outs of teeth! There was so much to learn! Celebrity teeth secrets, gory gum conditions and all sorts of torturous historical dentistry contraptions. I could totally relate to her excitement, and have loved immersing myself in the worlds of urban landscape design, life coaching, book publishing, vegan fashion, statutory planning, eco demolition and designer furniture. So, have a look at your potential copywriter’s portfolio and ask them who they’ve worked with. It’s not about whether they’ve written for your industry before, but rather do they have the ability to do so? An agency background – where you’re required to chop and change across multiple industries all in one day – is also a good indicator.
I’m firmly in the camp that being organised is just good manners. Perhaps that makes me old fashioned. But, one thing’s for sure: when you’re a freelancer juggling multiple projects, organisation is essential. So, consider these questions. In what manner, and how quickly, did your potential copywriter respond to your initial enquiry? Do they have a solid working process in place with pre-prepared intake forms, a client brief, Terms and Conditions, and so on? Are they a good communicator? Are they setting clear expectations? And are they using words like ‘timeline’, ‘review schedule’, and ‘delivery’, or is it all a bit laissez-faire? If you want your copy done well and quickly, I know which I’d be looking for.
And finally, I’d also add:
But, not in the way you might expect. Do you want a copywriter who can get started right this very second, minus a completed brief? Perhaps you do if you’ve left your project to the very last minute, but you’re much more organised than that, aren’t you?!
No, if you want great copywriting, you want somebody who is in demand – and therefore not immediately available. A great copywriter will have existing clients, a full schedule of work (and possibly a waiting list), and they’ll get to you as soon as they can (with a thorough brief for you to fill in). Why? Because they deliver the goods. So, plan ahead and book a good (i.e. busy) copywriter in advance.
Look for these characteristics, employ a little intellect and intuition and you should be on your way to an efficient and enjoyable experience with your chosen copywriter. Good luck!
Worked with a freelance copywriter before? Are you one? What would you add to the list?