Hiring a freelance copywriter in Belfast, Beirut or Botswana? Here's some tips.
Updated: Sep 6
OK, say you want to hire a freelance copywriter. You know all about the usual procurement processes – like asking for quotes, looking at samples and so forth – but here’s some additional tips on how to find the best copywriter for your project.
Do they need to be local?
First things first – if you want to hire a freelance copywriter in Ireland or the UK, your copywriter doesn’t have to be based in any of these places. The world is a pretty small marketplace these days and while you may be working away on a grey day in Dublin or Belfast, your copywriter can be sipping Pina Coladas on Bondi Beach (after they’ve finished your project, of course – not during.)
I know things work this way because I’ve written copy for clients in Australia, the US, Saudi, etc - all from my desk in Belfast. The distance between client and copywriter doesn’t really matter that much unless it’s a really big project and both parties need to be hands-on and meet face to face occasionally.
So when you’re beginning your copywriter search – be prepared to look outside your own area to find the person that’s right for the job.
Identify your specific needs and find a professional copywriter who can deliver
To be honest, if someone is making a living as a freelance copywriter, you can be sure that they’re pretty good at their job. And there’s thousands upon thousands of them out there too.
But instead of finding ‘a’ copywriter, you need to find the 'right' copywriter for your project.
If you want an in-depth piece on, say, a very technical subject, there’s little point in hiring a copywriter who only writes fashion blogs. This is a very brutal illustration of course, but you get the gist.
And while some copywriters will claim to be able to handle most subjects and most styles (I’m one of them, by the way) not everyone will have the right skills or experience to do that.
So, identify the specific writing needs that the project demands; then draw up a shortlist of writers – and quiz them hard!
Determine a realistic budget for the job
You’ve gone to the bother of looking for a freelance copywriter because it’s a job you can’t handle in-house. Like every other profession, copywriters have different levels of skills and experience – and they’ll charge accordingly.
It’s important to feel comfortable that the writer you hire can do the job properly at the first time of asking – without you wasting time going endlessly backwards and forwards for corrections. If you try and skimp on the budget (or go to a ‘writing mill’ where you’re charged a penny a word) it’s highly likely that you may not quite get the result you had anticipated.
So, allow a reasonable budget – and get a few different quotes for the job. Because while you shouldn’t skimp, it’s crucial that you don’t end up paying excessively either.
My tip would be to ask someone who has hired a copywriter in the past and learn from their experiences in terms of the quality they received at a price that was fair.
Choose a copywriter you can work with long-term
Very often, the copywriter you’ve chosen for one quick project will end up working with you on many more jobs down the line. This could be because they delivered a great piece of work first time around – but more likely than not, it’s because the two of you worked together well as a team. The writer was easy to work with, or they had a particular insight into your business sector, or they came up with lots of good ideas for you. Whatever the reason, your results will be better with a copywriter that you can work with for the long term. So it’s worth bearing that in mind when hiring a copywriter for what you might think is only a quick one-off project.
Don’t burden your copywriter with crazy SEO demands
There was a time when writing optimised keyword copy was so easy that my granny’s dog could do it. With a bow-wow here, and a bow-wow there, here a bow, there a bow, everywhere a bow-wow. Yes, bow-wow keywords all over the place.
Thankfully, Google has put an end to those days of keyword stuffing. That means that reading website content doesn’t have to be a chore anymore. You no longer have to wade through a treacle of keywords.
And any good freelance copywriter – when writing website content and copy – will know how to subtly blend all the right words in, at the right proportion, in all of the right places.
As a result, your website content will deliver better results because it’s been written in precisely the way Google now prefers to read it. Best of all, you won’t need to get your calculator out to check the keyword ratio.
Ask about your copywriter’s processes
Most copywriters will have slightly different ways of working.
Some will go through a very extensive interrogation of the project at the start, either face to face with, by phone or Skype, or maybe via a questionnaire. Some will accept your brief as it is and waltz off to deliver the project without you seeing them in the interim.
Some will want to see every piece of promotional material you’ve ever produced in the past, while others will skip that and deliver their work in the way they themselves see fit. Some will offer one draft and corrections; others will offer maybe three or four.
The point is, every freelance copywriter will have their own specific way of working. All will be good, all will be effective – but it IS important that you understand the process right from the off.
Please. Stay calm if the first draft is not 100% word perfect
It rarely is. But 90 or 95% is a reasonable expectation if your brief has done its job.
And finally, should you ever be seeking to hire a professional Belfast copywriter, a Dublin copywriter or even a Timbuktu copywriter - look no further than yours truly. Distance no object!