10 questions to ask when hiring a web copywriter

10 questions to ask when hiring a web copywriter

There are literally thousands of so-called web or SEO copywriters in Australia. Just try Googling ‘SEO copywriter Sydney’ and you’ll get over 24,000 websites returned. With all this choice it’s often really difficult to decide who to work with, and understand why quotes from different writers vary so much.

The hard truth is that you often really don’t know if you’ve bagged a good copywriter until after you’ve signed on the dotted line.

So, here are ten questions to ask when hiring a web copywriter that will hopefully make that decision easier.

1) Do they have a website?

There’s absolutely no excuse for a web copywriter not having their own website. If they tell you they’re ‘so busy working for their clients that they don’t have time to develop and maintain a site’, watch out. If they’re too busy to worry about their professional image, perhaps they’ll be too busy to proof your copy properly, answer your calls or give your copy real attention. A web writer’s business card is their website. What does it tell you?

2) Do you like their writing style?

Most good web copywriters in Sydney have a blog, and hopefully, they’ll be filling that blog with current, interesting, well-written, useful posts that you’ll want to read.  How a copywriter writes their blog says a lot about how they’ll write for you, although obviously, a good writer adapts their style to meet the client’s needs. Copywriters aren’t always available to meet (if they work at home or far from the city) so how they ‘communicate’ on their website, via email or on the ‘phone will tell you a lot about what type of person they are. From this, you can decide if you’re going to like working with them and if you’re going to like the copy they produce.

3) Do they ask you a lot of annoying questions?

Before I became a copywriter, I was a digital producer for many years, and when I briefed my copywriters, I wanted questions. The only way I felt that they’d really understood my brief, was when they ripped it to shreds and asked me lots of annoying things that I hadn’t really thought of. Remember, although a copywriter knows how to write copy, only YOU understand your business. So expect questions, expect to be grilled and challenged – it’s the only way to get the great digital copy you need.

4) Are they involved in social media?learn-copywriting-courses

If you intend to have a blog, a Twitter site, a Facebook page and generally be involved in the online community, then you need a writer who’s ‘been there, done that’. The ideal web writer is up on current technology trends, aware of the latest innovations, tools, ideas and cool stuff. Even if you’re not interested in social media for your brand, wouldn’t you prefer to have a forward thinking, open-minded writer who’s involved in the digital world, than a dusty old stick in the mud?

5) Are they really a DIGITAL copywriter ?

There is a BIG difference between a writer who can produce beautiful words for your latest print brochure and a digital copywriter who understands all the intricacies of digital copy for websites, emails, SMS messages and online advertising. If your chosen writer can’t show you some recent, brilliant examples of DIGITAL copy, walk away.

6) Do they really understand how to write great SEO copy?

If your copywriter tells you they can write copy for your website but they ‘don’t do SEO copy’, put the phone down. All website copy has to be written with SEO in mind – no excuses – otherwise you’ll languish at the bottom of Google search results. Writing great SEO copy that pushes your site to the top of the natural listings (for your chosen keyword phrases), is an art. To succeed at that art, your copywriter needs to be a bit of a geek and know their techie stuff. Check that they know their stuff, for example:

  • What a H1 tag is and why it matters.
  • Why you should mask dynamic URLS.
  • The importance of contextual links.
  • Why you should include keywords in your back links.
  • How to correctly format a title tag.

If they don’t, well sadly they aren’t worth your hard earned dollars, and you’ve just had a lucky escape.

7) Do they use an external proofer?

You know what it’s like: you’ve read that paragraph 100 times, and then you show it to your partner and they spot a great, hairy typo in the first line. Even the most brilliant copywriters find it difficult to proof their own copy. Make sure your copywriter is using someone else to proof the copy deck before it’s viewed by the public.

8) Do they provide a detailed quote?

A good and honest copywriter should have no qualms about breaking their quote down into easily understandable chunks and giving you their hourly rate. It’s the only way you can have a complete understanding of what you’re getting for your money. A few things to consider here are:

  • How much meeting time have they allowed?
  • Are they charging by the word or the page?
  • If by the page, how long do they consider a page of web copy to be?
  • Have they allowed time for research?
  • How many hours of amends have they allowed?

The more detail the better.

9) Is the price too low?

Obviously, you want to pay the best price possible for your digital copy, but sometimes a low price doesn’t guarantee quality copy. Try to compare like with like by sending the same brief to three writers and then interrogating their costing breakdown (see 8).  If they’re offering to write a whole website for $500, consider if they can really understand your brand, research your product and write decent copy in the time allowed.

Look at the writer’s testimonials and recent work and assess the quality. Then decide if you are happy with a relatively inexperienced but cheaper writer or if you want a top of the range writer who has lots of experience, but is more expensive.

10) Are they too available?

Now we all have slow weeks when, little work comes in and we’re able to get started on copy jobs straight away, but as a rule of thumb, you want to work with a copywriter who’s ‘nicely’ busy. By this I mean, not so busy they can’t return your calls, but perhaps busy enough to be booked a week or two in advance. A busy copywriter is in demand, which means they’re good, which means your copy is likely to be of a higher quality.

SEO Consultant

opywriters are not all the same. I know this as I’m often brought on board to help rewrite copy when clients aren’t happy with their original copywriter. It’s not fun hearing the horror stories of money wasted on poor copy. Be sure you bag yourself a good one. Be brave. Ask questions. Then ask a few more.

 

Question mark image courtesy of Don Moyer

Cat Drop Cap courtesy of Jessica Hirsch

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