Article | 04 Apr 2018

Choosing the right freelance copywriter

Posted in Freelancer, Top tips, Tools & Advice, Learning,

You know you need some copy, but where to start? If you’ve never worked with a freelance copywriter before, it can be difficult to know what you need and where to find it. Copy’s copy, right?

Well, not always. There are, in fact, numerous different breeds of copywriter, with diverse specialities, areas of expertise and unique styles. Finding one that suits your needs will greatly increase the chances that you’ll be happy with the end results.

So, what should you be looking for? In essence, there are three elements which influence your choice of copywriter:

      1. Sector knowledge
        To write well about something, it helps to have a good level of knowledge about the subject and target audience, which is why many copywriters choose to specialise in certain sectors. This is especially true in B2B industries, such as law, accountancy or IT, where copy requires more technical language and understanding. Without some background knowledge, your copywriter will need more time to research around the subject, speak to relevant experts and potentially endure numerous redrafts – so it’s usually worth investing in a specialist. With consumer-focused copy, while the subject might not be as technically challenging as with B2B texts, an understanding of the subject matter and audience is still desirable, enabling the writer to express what you do in the most effective way. For this reason, many consumer brands like to hire writers who are ‘brand fans’, as their deep knowledge of the company and its key selling points naturally comes across in the final product.
      2. What type of copy do you require?
        Alongside sector knowledge, copywriters can also specialise in certain types of copy, based on where the final words will appear and what they’re going to be used for. So, at one end of the scale, you have ‘Mad Men’ style creatives, who write the catchy slogans and jingles for adverts. And at the other, you have writers who specialise in long, technical reports and white papers. Both are highly specialist skills in their own right, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a copywriter that can excel at both.
        • SEO and web: Web copy not only has to explain clearly and persuasively what you do, it also has to be optimised for search engines, with short sentences and the most relevant keywords. Getting this right, while avoiding ‘keyword stuffing’, can take some practice.
        • Blogging and editorial: When writing for a blog or magazine, copywriters have to know how to explore different subjects more deeply - making some sector knowledge invaluable - and be skilled at structuring copy in a logical and engaging way. Editorial and blog copy may also require a more critical and opinionated approach.
        • Product, sales and marketing copy: Most businesses require a whole range of written materials to communicate and promote their products or services, including direct emails, brochures and presentations. In these cases, copy needs to be short, punchy and highly persuasive, with the right calls to action to nudge those prospects through the door.
        • Video scripts: According to HubSpot, 87% of online marketers are currently using video content in their digital marketing strategies, which means video scripts are an increasingly important area to get right. What works on the page won’t necessarily work on the screen, so if this is what you need, finding a writer with the right experience is key.
      3. Voice
        The third important factor when choosing a copywriter is each professional’s unique style and tone of voice. Many copywriters are adaptable, with the ability to flex how they write depending on the client’s brand, personality and target audience. However, most writers also have a natural limit to how much they can change their writing style, so it makes sense to find somebody who can slot into your brand personality without stretching too far out of their comfort zone. For example, writers usually specialise in either B2B or B2C copy, as stylistically the two types of writing are very different, with B2B copy more factually driven, and consumer texts more focused on the emotional side of a product or subject.

How do you find them?

Once you’ve got your head around the different types of copywriter out there, the following will help you narrow down your search:

      1. Write a brief: It doesn’t need to be super long but getting what you need down on paper means you can focus your search much more effectively. Your brief should outline your objectives, target audiences, key messages (more details on this in our blog on brand positioning), key words, desired tone of voice (with examples if possible) and any other relevant details such as design elements and calls to action.
      2. Post a job on The Work Crowd: Locating talented copywriters is easy with the help of The Work Crowd, home to a community of over 1700 top quality communications professionals.
      3. Shortlist based on experience: When considering a range of copywriters, cross-referencing with your brief should make it easy to decide which are the best fit, based on sector experience and the type of copy they specialise in.
      4. Ask for a range of samples: The proof is in the pudding, as they say, so once you have a shortlist, ask each writer to provide a range of samples from their portfolio, so you can get a good idea for their style.
      5. Give them a trial: Once you’ve homed in on a top choice, run a test project before committing to a bigger project or retainer. This gives you a final opportunity to verify their skills and see for real how they fit with your requirements.
      6. Don’t scrimp on the budget: While it might be tempting, bargain basement copywriters are unlikely to deliver what you’re looking for. Read more about why it’s worth the extra investment in our blog on why a professional copywriter is worth the investment.Developing and maintaining your unique brand voice is vital to winning the engagement and trust of your audiences. So, it’s worth investing the time and budget in finding the right fit.

 

If you’re looking for a copywriter who will meet and exceed your expectations, then The Work Crowd is a great place to start. The platform is home to hundreds of talented copywriting professionals, specialising in a whole host of different industries and types of copy. Not sure how it works? Then give one of the team a call on 020 3828 8440.