Article | 02 May 2018

Pitfalls to avoid when working with a freelance copywriter

Posted in Top tips, Tools & Advice,

Every minute counts when you’re running a business and the whole point of bringing in freelance support is to help you save time. However, there are some common mistakes when working with a freelance copywriter. 

Want to get it right the first time? Then here are a few pointers on how to avoid some of the most common mistakes:

 

  1. Fools rush in: Spend time selecting the right freelance copywriter

Whilst it may pain you to do it, time spent really is time saved, when taking on freelance support. When you think of the rounds and rounds of interviews involved in hiring for a permanent position, it makes sense to invest time when you’re building up your freelance network too. Whether you’re looking for a one-off job, or a longer term relationship, finding the right copywriter means you’ll have a trusted pair of hands you can rely on again and again.  Plus, you’re likely to find that they have their own network of contacts with diverse skills, from design to web development, that you can take advantage of when you need to.

So, what should you consider when selecting your freelance copywriter?  

  • Are they pre-vetted? Whilst certain websites are great for finding cheap and quick support, this approach is likely to cost you more in the long run due to substandard copy and multiple rounds of changes. Instead, ask within your own trusted network for recommendations, or try The Work Crowd, where every freelancer is vetted and approved before being accepted to  the community.
  • Is your freelancer right for the job in hand? Here are some thoughts for your checklist.
    • Do they have the right language skills? Sounds pretty basic, but make sure their language and grammar skills are top notch in whatever language they are writing in. Ask for writing samples, or give them a test to check they’re up to scratch.
    • Do they have the right sector experience? Sector knowledge makes a huge difference, particularly in more complex B2B sectors. There is no point appointing someone who specialises in writing about confectionary for your project on IT! Check out our blog on choosing the right copywriter for your business for more tips on the different skills and characteristics to look out for.
    • Can they compete the job on time? Check their availability and any planned days off or holidays before signing them up, otherwise your timeline could be scuppered.
    • Can they complete the job within budget? It’s true that you get what you pay for, so make sure you have an upfront conversation early on to ensure you are aligned on the cost for the work - and don’t receive any unexpectedly large invoices later!

 

  1. The devil’s in the detail: Provide a tight and clear brief

Once you have your new freelancer in place, make sure you are both clear on the requirements of the job, or you could face chaos down the line. Sound like too much work? If you’re really short on time or not sure what your brief should include, ask your freelancer to help you, following a detailed chat on the phone. ‘Replaying the brief’ is an excellent way to ensure that your freelancer completely understands the requirements of the job at hand, while saving you time. Freelancers are experts in their field, so will often be delighted to have the opportunity to put the brief into words themselves, for you to sign off.

Elements your copywriting brief should include:

  • Overview of project
  • Company background
  • Objectives of the copy
  • Deliverables
  • Tone of voice
  • Useful examples
  • Timeframes and deadlines (copywriter and client)
  • Keywords (if you’re dealing with web copy) and calls to action
  • Word count
  • Number of rounds of amends to the work
  • Point of contact (more on this below)

 

  1. Dot your i’s and cross your t’s: Make it legal

Often a grey area, freelancers and clients can find themselves diving into a project together without any type of contract in place, in a rush to get the work started. However, this leaves you both wide-open to conflict, should things go wrong. Make sure you both know where you stand by agreeing everything in writing. Your freelancer might have a standard contract that they use, or failing that, a detailed email including the brief and any vital details such as the agreed rate should do the trick. Getting this sorted early on will save both time and frustration down the line.  

  1. No disappearing acts: Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate.

Freelancer appointed, brief written, contract in place. Done. Now don’t fall off the face of the planet until the freelancer has completed the work. Whilst your copywriter should be well equipped to deliver on the brief, it’s important to remember that no one knows your business like you do.  Make yourself available for any questions and be sure to pass on any interesting information you come across that may be relevant to the job. For example, if you read a relevant article or example of the kind of tone of voice you’re looking for, forward on the link. It will only serve to make the copy provided all the richer.  

  1. Too many cooks: Point of contact

Ask any freelancer what the biggest drain on their time is when working for a client, and you can be sure they will launch into a lengthy dialogue about the number of people feeding back on their work. In the world of copywriting, too many cooks really do spoil the broth. Writing is subjective. There will always be divisions in opinion. Save yourself (and your copywriter), time, money and sanity by ensuring that they have one point of contact for approvals throughout the job.

So there you have it, a foolproof way to appoint your freelance copywriter and avoid some of the common mistakes which can end up costing your business both time and money.

And if you’re looking for a copywriter who knows their stuff and is always professional, then The Work Crowd has hundreds of candidates to choose from. Give one of the team a call on 020 3828 8440 to find out more.

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