A good copywriter can help your business flourish but with the myriad copywriters all competing for your business, just how do you know who you should or shouldn’t hire?
In such a situation, knowing the right questions to ask is not only extremely useful, it’s absolutely essential.
1. Do you have examples of successful copy?
Every copywriter has to start somewhere and therefore some won’t have any successful campaign samples to refer you to. While these people obviously need a break, can you really afford to take the chance on somebody who may or may not be good at their trade? Your business is relying on the person you hire to produce copy that will draw buyers in and get your products or services moving. With this in mind, hire somebody who can show you successful copy for the medium you require and, preferably, provide you with references.
2. How long do you require before project completion?
Every project is different and only after giving your copywriter a full and thorough brief will he or she be able to provide a delivery date. However, it’s important that a deadline is agreed upon and that it falls within your requirements. There’s no point, after all, in receiving copy after the launch of a new product.
Always insist on:
A) A date for the first draft to be delivered, and
B) A delivery date for the final copy.
3. How much do you charge and what are your payment terms?
Some copywriters charge by the hour, others by word count and yet others by each individual project. In my experience it’s best to aim for an agreement on a “per project” basis although this does entail your giving the writer a thorough brief of the job before he or she can be expected to quote you. Always remember that you get what you pay for.
It’s also important that you agree on payment terms. Some copywriters require a percentage of the fee “up front”, others after delivery of the first draft and yet others require nothing until project completion. You should also agree on how and when payment should be transferred.
4. Are any necessary revisions included in the price?
Because a copywriter can’t possibly know your products or services as well as you do, there’s little chance of your receiving a perfect first draft. Of course, it’s your job to ensure that your copywriter has enough information to be able to put together copy that’s in keeping with your requirements but some editing will undoubtedly be necessary. Ensure that the fee quoted includes at least two revisions although expect your copywriter to set a deadline for such revisions; nobody wants to leave a project hanging open indefinitely. However, should you change your brief then it’s only fair that your copywriter bills you for any extra time spent working on the copy.
5. What information do you need in order to produce my copy?
For a copywriter to be able to produce his or her best work it’s important that all necessary information is provided beforehand. Your copywriter should be able to tell you exactly what he or she needs before the assignment begins, thus saving you the time and hassle of answering numerous questions “along the way”.
6. Will you be doing the work yourself?
Project managers often assume that the person they’re dealing with is the person who will write the copy but this isn’t always the case. If your copywriter is sub-contracting work you should ask to see copy previously written by the person producing your copy. A middle man generally tends to mean that some information is also more likely to be misunderstood (think Chinese whispers).
Other questions to ask are:
Have you handled this type of assignment before?
What size and type of business do you specialise in writing for?
What type of assignments do you handle? (e.g. web writing, press releases, brochures, speeches, etc)
Do you provide design work and/or graphics?
Of course, good old-fashioned “gut feeling” also come into play. A good working relationship is important – if you don’t feel comfortable with your copywriter then it’s probably best to look elsewhere.