June 23, 2020
Ryan Henry
Freelance Copywriters: The Complete Hiring Guide

Whether you’ve just built a new website for your website or revamped your old one, you need someone to provide a copy, or content, for all the pages. In fact, you might even be thinking about hiring someone outside of the office to handle it instead of hiring another employee. 

While it definitely seems to be much easier and cost-efficient, is it the right thing to do? This guide will help you answer that question.

Who is a freelance copywriter, and what do they do?

Essentially, a freelance copywriter is an individual hired on a project or contract basis to write a copy for commercial use. The content that he or she writes can include blog posts, digital media posts, website content, or even adverts.

The purpose of the said copy will be to either persuade readers into buying a product or to inform them about services. Freelance copywriters can either work with clients directly, or they can work via an agency that works as an intermediary between the client and writer.

What qualities make a good freelance copywriter?

It’s easy to differentiate a good copywriter from a great one. Of course, anyone who puts in the effort and time can become accomplished, but there are traits that also contribute to your success in the field. These include:

1. Hardworking

It’s no secret that freelance writing can be not only time-consuming but also quite difficult. For this reason, a good freelance copywriter must have a strong work ethic, and should not be ready to give up once things start getting tough.

2. Ability to pay attention to detail

Detail-orientation is important when it comes to detail orientation. SEO writing requires only the best end results, and even the minutest mistake like a missing comma or a mispronounced word can make your web copy seem unprofessional. Therefore, a good freelance copywriter must pay attention to minor details to be able to produce the perfect web copies.

3. Curious 

Freelance copywriters usually have to write about various different topics; being curious about people and life can really help in this case. With curiosity comes the motivation to learn about the topic they have been given. As a result, they are able to consume thorough, well-researched, and accurate copies.

4. Humility

Whether a freelance copywriter is humble or not doesn’t affect his or her writing, it does play a part in self-improvement. A freelancer should be able to accept feedback, even if it is critical. Remember, even the most skilled and experienced writers can improve in some areas. Thus, the ability to not only receive but also apply the advice is a trait of a great freelance copywriter!

5. Time management

A freelance copywriter will always have a deadline to work on. If they’re unable to submit the content on time, then you will have to hire someone else. Therefore, a great copywriter should have excellent time management skills and should be punctual, so that he or she can submit the work before the deadline passes.

6. Professionalism

Another trait of successful freelancers is their professionalism, which enables them to develop long-term relations with clients. While writing the web copy for you, a great freelance writer should ask you for your opinion and check-in with you even if you don’t have any new work for them.

7. Commitment

Freelancing isn’t always easy. At times, a freelancer is tempted to give up, especially when he or she doesn’t think the work produced isn’t good enough. However, if a freelancer stays committed, even during tough times, it will eventually lead to improvement, and that is a quality that every great freelance copywriter must have.

Is it better to hire a freelance writer than an in-house writer?

While many factors come into play, it is definitely better to hire a freelance writer since it helps cut down on costs, but let’s look into this in more detail.

Advantages and disadvantages of in-house writers

If you have sufficient time and can completely take on the cost of hiring a writer full time, then you should go for it. Remember that in-house writers are also salaried employees, and this doesn’t include the cost of insurance, healthcare, and training.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of hiring a writer in-house is the consistency in the overall content production. Once you have trained the writer, he or she will know exactly how to target your firm’s message and phrase it such that it resonates with the target customers. In addition, they are always available during work hours and are ready to discuss edits and work on strategies to make the content better.

But the problem is, who is going to manage and train the person you hire? Who would have the time to do their work along with these additional duties too? In-house writers will have to be trained and taught about your industry, your business, and your target customers. Otherwise, they’ll be clueless when it comes to writing.

Moreover, to train an in-house writer, you will have to know about things like customer challenges, buyer personas, calls to action, search engine optimization, keyword research and targeting, and proper formatting. If you don’t know these, you won’t be able to train the writer regarding these, and in the end, you won’t have the results you hoped for.

Another disadvantage of an in-house writer is the added expense of hiring and retaining employees. Apart from the base salary, other fixed expenses that you will have to pay for include local, state, and federal taxes, sick days, vacation, retirement plan, and health insurance. Other expenses that must also be accounted for include the cost of training and recruiting. All of this totally escalates the total.  

Advantages and disadvantages of freelance writers

If you have your hands full with too many responsibilities and don’t have the time to train another employee, then the next best option is to hire a freelance copywriter. They are hired whenever they are needed, so they are independent contractors that don’t need training, unemployment insurance, or healthcare.

Also, freelancers won’t need a dedicated space on site to complete their job. A great freelance writer will also have all the skills needed to convert your instructions into a catchy and compelling narrative. Usually, freelancers are seasoned writers and only work on a contract basis to make a living, which means they will be glad to accept recurring business.

There aren’t any major disadvantages of hiring a freelance writer for your business, and it might just be what you need to produce your web content.

How do you hire freelance copywriters?

Now that you’ve decided to hire freelance copywriters, it’s time to learn how to do so. Before you send a job offer to someone, keep the following tips in mind.

1. Look for someone with sufficient knowledge

To really benefit from content marketing, you need someone who can not only write words on a page but also optimize the content for search content so that people can come across it easily. This means the ideal writer should have knowledge of and be proficient in many areas of the craft, which includes:

  • In-depth research: Your hired writer should be able to research well on your given topic to not only make your content stand out but also to increase engagement.
  • Proofreading: The writer should have a habit of reading through the written content to check for error and ensure it flows naturally. You don’t want content that is monotonous and doesn’t resonate with readers.
  • Marketing: It’s better if your hired copywriter has experience in different marketing tools as that will help him understand how to format content such that it improves results and rankings.
  • Keyword research: The writer must know how to use tools that can make him or her understand the way people search online so that their content ranks well in search engines.
  • Portfolio: Make sure you only hire someone who has a list of clients he or she has worked for previously. If you go with someone new, you might end up spending most of your time editing the content.

After checking for all of these, you can start your hunt for copywriters. 

2. Keep your business needs in mind

You now know the skills to look for, and you might also have a budget that you can allocate to this in mind. The next step is to filter our applicants, keeping in mind your business goals.

For instance, some criteria include someone who specializes in the industry you work in or someone with agency experience.

Another important criterion includes whether the writer has any experience within the target industry as well as if he or she is a native English speaker.

The best practice is to assign the freelance writer easy topics before giving them advanced projects. Doing so will reduce the chances of wasted resources and time, and it will also let you gauge their skills.

Once you find freelance copywriters that have the skills you’re looking for and they agree to work at the price you’re offering, you can work on building a long-term work relationship with them.

3. Post jobs in the right places

To find the ideal copywriter for your project, you will have to start advertising your job opening. You can take the help of the numerous platforms available.

For instance, you can choose from many different freelance websites however you need to consider the time it will take to interview and onboard a writer that meets you standards and understands the industry that you are serving.

Similarly, you can join different copywriters groups on Facebook and post about your project there to find qualified candidates. Make sure you target groups that focus on exchanging valuable information instead of those full of ads and spam.  

4. Offer them the right rates

Once you get a few trial pieces written from a handful of writers, try to find one that matches or is very close to the tone you want for your business. Once you do, the next step is negotiating the price that you both are satisfied with.

If you pay them a low amount, they won’t work with you. This especially applies if the writer is quality-oriented and knows his or her worth. Instead, it is better to share with them the budget of the entire project as well as the amount you can pay them. Remember, honesty is essential when it comes to building a long-term relationship with a marketer.

Try to be as fair as possible when it comes to offering money. If you pay them a good amount, the chances are that the writer will dedicate sufficient time to get you the perfect copy. 

In some cases, writers will also work at a lower cost if you have more projects. This is because a continuous workflow ensures a continuous money stream.

Challenges of hiring copywriters

Like everything, while hiring copywriters comes with its benefits, there are several challenges you will have to think about too.

1. They’re not as knowledgeable as the company itself

Whether it’s website copy, blogging, or social media posts, no one knows a company’s business or customers better than the company itself.

Hiring freelancers means they first have to learn who you are, the services/products you sell, and the value you provide to customers. However, they learn all these things from the information you provide them, and it might just not be enough to capture the essence of your business.

In fact, the people within your organization will know your company much better than the freelancer you hire. 

2. They don’t have direct access to discuss things with your experts

Freelancers usually struggle with understanding business because they don’t have much access to the experts. Since they’re usually juggling numerous clients, they have very strict timelines. This leaves them with hardly any time to have a detailed discussion with your experts over the phone.

Yes, they can ask you to set up interviews with your company’s subject matter experts (SME) and even send emails to clear up the confusion. However, having experts write the content is far more effective than having someone write it for you unless you have an onboarding process that helps the writer get aligned with your products or services. 

Even if you have intermediate in-house writers, it is much easier for them to have SMEs go over their content than it is for someone who’s working on a contract basis. 

3. Freelancer’s tone might not match your tone

When you outsource your work to freelancers, it is essential to define the distinctive personality you have set for your business. This is so that all the content seems in tune and is consistent over all the pages.

However, without a style guide, the writers may use their own style that might not match the style, tone, and voice you have set. This will eventually lead to inconsistency, and ultimately confusion as a reader goes from one webpage to another.

4. Project contracts have fixed deliverables

With in-house production, you can ask your team to work as many pages in a week as you want, and you can ask them to make as many revisions as needed.

However, since freelancers work on contracts, they have a fixed number of words or pages that they write in a week. In most cases, this can be an issue, especially if the content doesn’t coincide with the limitations.

The more you wait for the writer to fill up your page with their copy, the more chances you miss out on connecting with visitors and convert them from leads into customers.

5. You might have to deal with low-quality work

Of course, there are many excellent freelance writers available; however, the trick is finding them. The freelancer’s words will directly impact the experience that visitors to your site will have, so you need to pick accordingly. 

Read the reviews left by their clients, have a look at their portfolio, and get in touch with former clients to know about their work quality. Never compromise on the quality of content you put out for your users.

6. You may have to hire someone else for revisions down the road

While many freelance copywriters product excellent work, they don’t put a lot of thought into the pages’ performance or produce “green” content. So if factual content changes over time, no one will revisit the page and to update the content.

Similarly, if the page doesn’t rank for the targeted keywords after a while, then freelancers that originally wrote the content won’t go back to reevaluate those. Once you pay the freelancer for the content, their job is done, and they move on to the next available project.

It is not the responsibility of the freelance copywriter to analyze how the audience reacts to the web copy and make changes. Meanwhile, if you have someone in-house, then it’s easier and cheaper to make updates quickly.

Conclusion

You now know everything there is to know about a freelance copywriter, from what they do to the benefits of hiring one as well as the challenges that come along. Once you do decide you want to hire a freelancer, contact us at Cureight and let us help you save time and money by building and managing your content freelance team. At Cureight, we will find the most qualified writer, create a keyword focused strategy and measure your contents impact over time.