Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring a Copywriter

Smart steps to hiring a copywriter.

Daniel Payne

11/3/202310 min read

hiring a copywriter
hiring a copywriter

Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring a Copywriter


Hiring a copywriter is a crucial step for businesses looking to articulate their message, engage with their audience, and drive conversions. Effective copywriting can elevate your brand, attract new customers, and differentiate you from competitors. Yet, navigating the process of hiring a copywriter is fraught with potential pitfalls.

This article aims to shed light on common mistakes that can be made when hiring a copywriter and offers actionable advice to ensure you connect with a copywriter who not only understands your vision but can also deliver compelling content that resonates with your target audience.

1. Hiring from a content mill

When you're on a tight budget, a content mill can appear as a beacon of affordability in the vast sea of copywriting services. Content mills are platforms where businesses can request content at significantly lower prices than they might pay for professional freelance copywriters or agencies. The allure of cheap content is understandable; you get to stretch your marketing dollars further.

However, the initial savings often come at a hidden cost:

  • Quality: Copywriters working through content mills are typically paid much less, which can result in rushed work and lower quality output.

  • Customization: These writers may not have the time or incentive to tailor the content closely to your brand's needs or voice.

  • Expertise: You risk receiving copy from writers who lack industry-specific knowledge or SEO expertise, elements that are crucial for your content to perform well.

  • Consistency: With a rotating roster of writers, maintaining consistency in tone and style across your brand's communications becomes challenging.

The disadvantages of hiring from a content mill underscore the potential for low-quality work that fails to resonate with your audience or drive results. If your industry requires specialized knowledge or if you're aiming for high-quality, engaging copy that converts readers into customers, bypassing content mills is often the wiser choice.

2. How to review a copywriter's portfolio

Assessing a copywriter's portfolio is crucial to understanding their ability to meet your specific needs. A writer's portfolio offers a window into their experience, writing style, and versatility. It reveals how they adapt their voice to different industries and whether they can effectively convey your brand's message. Here are key aspects you should consider when reviewing a portfolio:

What to look for in a writer's portfolio

  • Writing Style: Look for a style that resonates with your brand identity and appeals to your target audience.

  • Versatility: A diverse portfolio shows the writer's capacity to tackle various topics and shift tones as needed.

  • Industry Knowledge: Samples related to your field indicate the writer's familiarity with industry-specific terminology and concepts.

  • Quality of Content: Pay attention to the clarity, grammar, and creativity in the writing samples provided.

  • Client Testimonials: Positive feedback from previous clients can be a testament to the writer’s professionalism and reliability.

Also, check their online presence across professional platforms like LinkedIn or personal websites. This can give you additional insights into their work ethic and dedication to their craft.

Remember that a strong portfolio is indicative of not just past success but potential future performance in delivering compelling copy tailored to your business goals. It serves as a solid foundation for making an informed decision about whether or not a copywriter is the right match for your project.

3. Not Conducting a Thorough Interview

An integral part of the hiring process, particularly when engaging with a freelancer, is conducting interviews. This step ensures that you get a comprehensive understanding of the copywriter's communication skills, professional demeanor, and project experience.

How to Conduct an Effective Interview with a Freelance Copywriter

When interviewing a freelance copywriter, keep these key points in mind:

1. Emphasize on Communication Skills

Communication is key in any working relationship. It becomes even more critical when you’re working with freelancers who may be operating from different time zones. During your interview, assess how effectively the copywriter can articulate their thoughts and ideas. This will give you a glimpse into how well they can translate complex concepts into accessible content.

2. Evaluate Professional Demeanor

Professional demeanor involves more than just politeness; it's about respect for time, adherence to deadlines, and an understanding of the business decorum. Pay attention to punctuality during your interview - it speaks volumes about their time management skills.

3. Understand Project Experience

Understanding the copywriter’s past project experiences will give you insights into their areas of expertise and versatility. A good fit would be someone who has worked on projects similar to yours or has demonstrated the ability to quickly adapt to new industries.

Sample Questions for Your Copywriter Interview

During the interview process, consider asking these questions:

  1. How do you approach a new writing project?

  1. Can you provide examples of how you’ve incorporated client feedback into your work?

  1. How do you handle tight deadlines or last-minute changes?

  1. What are your strategies for capturing a brand’s voice?

By incorporating these elements into your interview process, you're setting yourself up to find not just a competent writer, but also a strategic partner who can contribute significantly to your project goals.

4. Neglecting to establish clear expectations in a brief or contract

When you hire a copywriter, it's important to clearly communicate your project requirements and expectations in a document called a copywriting brief or a contract agreement. This may seem like just an administrative task, but it's actually crucial for setting the foundation of a successful partnership. By doing this upfront work, you can prevent misunderstandings and avoid time-consuming revisions later on.

Why You Need a Copywriting Brief

A copywriting brief is a document that outlines all the important details about your project. It serves as a guide for the copywriter, helping them understand what you need and how to deliver it. Here are some key elements that should be included in your brief:

  1. Project Scope: Clearly describe what your project is all about. Specify the type of content you need (e.g., blog posts, white papers, email campaigns) and how many pieces you expect.

  1. Target Audience: Identify who your copy is meant for. Provide information about their demographics, interests, and buying behavior.

  1. Brand Voice: Explain how you want your brand to sound. Give examples of existing content that represents your desired tone and style.

  1. Goals: State what you want to achieve with your copy. It could be anything from increasing sales to educating readers.

  1. Key Messages: Highlight any important points that must be included in the copy. If there are specific features or benefits of your product/service that you want to emphasize, make sure to mention them.

  1. SEO Requirements: If getting found on search engines is important for your project, provide a list of relevant keywords that should be incorporated naturally into the content.

  1. Timeline: Set realistic deadlines for each stage of the project, from initial drafts to final submissions.

The Importance of a Contract Agreement

In addition to a brief, it's also advisable to have a contract agreement in place with your copywriter. This legal document protects both parties and ensures that everyone is on the same page. Here are some things that should be covered in your contract:

  • Scope of Work: Clearly define what the writer is responsible for and what's not included.

  • Revisions: Specify how many rounds of revisions are allowed and what the process will be.

  • Payment Terms: Outline how much and when the writer will be paid.

  • Confidentiality: Include a clause that prohibits the writer from sharing any confidential information they come across during the project.

  • Copyright Ownership: Determine who will own the rights to the final copy once it's completed.

Having a detailed brief and contract in place before starting any work ensures that your copywriter has all the information they need to create effective content that aligns with your goals. It also provides you with peace of mind knowing that you're both protected legally.

5. The importance of ongoing communication and feedback

To create content that truly represents your brand and achieves your goals, it's crucial to have open and consistent communication with your copywriter. This allows for a productive feedback loop where ideas can be refined and content can be improved.

Here are some practical tips for effective communication:

Set up regular check-ins

Schedule weekly or bi-weekly meetings with your copywriter to discuss progress, exchange ideas, and address any concerns. This regular interaction helps prevent misunderstandings and keeps the project on the right track.

Use collaboration tools

Take advantage of online platforms like Trello, Slack, or Asana to stay connected in real-time and facilitate the revision process. These tools provide a centralized space for sharing files, giving feedback, and managing timelines.

Clarify feedback channels

Agree on the best way to communicate feedback—whether through email, video calls, or messaging apps—to ensure clear and prompt responses.

Define the revision process

Clearly outline how many rounds of revisions are included in the project and how additional changes will be handled. This transparency helps manage expectations on both sides.

Provide constructive feedback

Instead of giving vague comments like "make it better," provide specific suggestions on areas that could be improved. For example, you can highlight sections that need more engaging language or stronger calls-to-action.

By implementing these strategies into your workflow, you create an environment that fosters effective collaboration with your copywriter, resulting in high-quality content that meets your needs.

6. Unrealistic expectations on turnaround time and availability

Setting realistic project deadlines is essential when working with a copywriter. Appreciate that high-quality writing requires time for research, drafting, and revisions. A rushed job may negatively impact the end product, so balancing your needs with the copywriter's workload is crucial.

Managing Expectations for Timelines

Here are some tips to help you manage your expectations and set realistic timelines for your copywriting projects:

Assess the Project Scope

Evaluate the complexity of your content needs. Larger projects or those requiring in-depth research will need more time.

Consider the Copywriter's Schedule

Recognize that professional copywriters often manage multiple clients. They may need time to fit your project into their workload without sacrificing quality.

Previous Client Commitments

Respect pre-existing commitments the copywriter has, as it speaks to their professionalism and reliability.

Having Transparent Discussions About Deadlines

To ensure a smooth workflow and avoid any misunderstandings, it's important to have open and transparent discussions about project deadlines. Here are some suggestions on how to approach these discussions:

Open Communication

Initiate conversations early about how much time the project will require. This will give both you and the copywriter a clear understanding of the timeline from the start.

Quality Over Speed

Emphasize that you value quality and are willing to discuss a timeline that allows for this. Remember, good writing takes time, so it's important not to rush the process.

Be Flexible When Possible

If you can afford some flexibility, let the copywriter know. This can result in better work and a more engaged writer. However, it's important to balance flexibility with your own project needs and deadlines.

Remember that establishing a realistic timeline upfront will lead to fewer surprises and revisions later. It also helps in building trust between you and your copywriter, laying the foundation for potential long-term collaboration.

7. Solely Focusing on Cost and Disregarding Quality

When it comes to hiring a copywriter, there's a common tendency to put budget allocation at the forefront, often overlooking content quality. This strategy can lead to pitfalls that undermine your marketing efforts.

The Pitfalls of Prioritizing Cost Over Quality

One major risk is receiving subpar content that fails to engage your audience or drive conversions. Low-cost copywriters might lack the necessary skills or experience, leading to content that doesn't resonate with your target market or represent your brand accurately.

Remember, the quality of your copy directly impacts your brand reputation and customer engagement.

Skimping on costs may save money in the short term, but it could cost you potential customers and revenue in the long run.

Striking a Balance: Cost vs. Quality

However, this doesn't imply you need to break the bank to hire a skilled copywriter. Here are some strategies to strike a balance:

  1. Define Your Priorities: Identify what’s most important for your project – SEO optimization, engaging storytelling, technical writing expertise, etc. This allows you to allocate budget where it matters most.

  1. Explore Different Pricing Models: Some writers charge per word, others per project or on retainer. You might find one model offers better value for your specific needs.

  1. Invest in Editing: If budget constraints are tight, consider hiring a less experienced writer and investing in a professional editor to polish the work.

Remember, striking a balance between cost and quality is key in leveraging copywriting as a powerful tool for business growth.

Finding the Right Balance: Quality Copywriting Within Your Budget

Finding a skilled copywriter that aligns with your budget can seem like a daunting task. Yet, there are budget-friendly solutions that don't compromise on the quality of content.

Strategies for Hiring a Copywriter within Your Budget

1. Work with emerging talents

New copywriters looking to build their portfolios often offer competitive rates. They are eager to prove their skills and may go the extra mile to deliver exceptional content. However, keep in mind that they may require a bit more guidance and patience as they navigate through the initial stages of their career.

2. Consider retainer agreements with experienced writers

On the other end of the spectrum, retainer agreements with experienced writers can also be a cost-effective solution. While their per-project rate might be higher, securing them on a monthly retainer often results in discounted prices. This setup not only ensures consistent, high-quality content but also cultivates a deeper understanding of your brand over time.

Tips for Hiring a Copywriter within Your Budget

Here are some tips to help you find a copywriter who can deliver quality content without breaking the bank:

  • Set clear budget boundaries: Be upfront about your budget constraints. This will help you find a copywriter who can work within these parameters.

  • Negotiate: Don't hesitate to negotiate rates with potential candidates. Some might be willing to work out a deal that satisfies both parties.

  • Consider value, not just cost: Evaluate what each writer brings to the table — professionalism, expertise, reliability, and so forth. The cheapest option is not always the best one.

By considering these pointers, you can ensure that quality content doesn't have to break the bank.

Nurturing long-term relationships with copywriters

Long-term collaboration with writers is extremely valuable for businesses. Like a trusted business partner, a experienced copywriter who has been working with you for a long time can understand your brand voice and goals in a way that's hard to match by newcomers. They can effectively translate your brand's message into persuasive copy that resonates with your audience, ultimately driving engagement and conversions.

Tips for fostering this essential partnership:

  1. Timely Payments: Respect the work of your copywriter by ensuring payments are made promptly. This builds trust and motivates the writer to consistently deliver high-quality work.

  1. Clear Feedback: Constructive criticism is invaluable in any professional relationship. Provide clear, detailed feedback on their work - both positive points and areas that could be improved.

  1. Open Communication: Maintain an open line of communication with your copywriter. Regular check-ins not only keep both parties aligned but also help in addressing any potential issues promptly.

  1. Mutual Respect: Value the expertise of your copywriter. Recognize their creative process and give them the freedom to bring fresh ideas to the table.

By nurturing a productive, mutually beneficial relationship, you can ensure a successful long-term collaboration with your copywriter. This partnership will serve as an asset, enhancing your brand image and contributing to your business growth.

" A well-drafted contract, clear guidelines, realistic budgeting, and a solid communication plan are the cornerstones of fruitful collaborations. "