New to the idea of working with a copywriter? With people often assuming copywriting has something to do with licensing or law, it’s a fairly hidden industry that people tend not to know much about, that is until they need it.
Whether you’re a new brand looking to hire a copywriter to create text for your shiny new website. Or you’re a well-established business looking to revitalise your brand. I’ve put together a guide that outlines what to expect from working with a copywriter, that will keep the experience efficient, streamlined, and successful!
As a seasoned copywriter, I’ve developed 12 tips that were inspired by questions asked by my own clients. I hope they help you navigate your first experience working with a copywriter!
1. Understand Average Copywriting Prices Before Getting A Quote
Before getting into the nitty, gritty details, it’s important to be aware of the cost involved with hiring a copywriter. Like most services, from web development and brand design to product design and manufacturing, there are different price bands for you to choose from, depending on your budget.
An average price for, let’s say, one website page, can range from £80-£150. Price will depend on how much research/information gathering is needed. For example, a blog post may require a lot of factual research, whereas a product description for a simple product will require less time.
Crafting copy that gives your clients clarity and persuades them to ‘purchase/sign-up/work with you’ takes time, research, and analysis. Like any service, it’s a skill that copywriters perfect over time, with experience and knowledge. From grammar to subtle sales techniques. It’s a one-off investment in your brand which can have a dramatically positive influence on your annual sales or ROI.
It’s so much more than just writing a few quick paragraphs. However, if you need a low price, you’ll definitely find copywriters with very cheap rates on sites like Upwork. But realistically, these prices don’t allow them time to research, craft, and edit unique text. They may plagiarise another brand, putting you at risk, or they may rush the job and create a piece of text that feels very flat and uncreative. Which in the long run, can damage your brand or end up costing you more money, as you hire someone new to fix it.
2. Read Any Terms & Conditions Before Working With A Copywriter
Copywriters may often work solo, but they’re still a form of mini-business. Whether you’re working with a website designer or copywriter, it’s important to read their terms and conditions. These protect both parties and outline the procedure for any situations that may arise, like project scope changes or cancellations.
You may also find that you need to sign a contract and pay a deposit upfront before work begins, usually, this is 50% of the project total. This is normal for freelancers and small businesses, but if you have any questions let them know.
The contract and deposit help to protect copywriters from individuals with bad intentions, but it also protects you too. I currently ask for a 50% deposit upfront within my own terms and conditions.
3. Give As Much Information As Possible
We don’t mean hand over your middle name, biscuit preference, and favourite music genre (unless of course we can craft these into an awesome story for your ‘About’ page!). But don’t be afraid to over-prepare us, and send across any random thoughts or scribbles you may have collected for the topic and direction of the text that you would like us to create.
Of course, it’s best to keep the amount you send over within reason. For example, don’t expect a copywriter to read an autobiography worth of text to filter out details for your ‘About’ page.
I usually send clients a small questionnaire to fill out which gives me a great insight into the personality and tone of their brand. With questions about primary and secondary competitors as well as brand history too. But if you have a rough draft or any extra notes, send them over!
4. Outline The Goals You’re Reaching For
Let your copywriter know the goal you’re trying to achieve with each piece of text. You may be thinking, ‘OK, I need some product descriptions for my website, the goal is for people to… buy them?’. But it can often go further than this. Are you hoping that a customer will join a subscription, over just making a one-off purchase? Or maybe you need some text on your website home page that will entice people to sign up for your course or email subscription.
5. Outline The Brands Background or Past History
As well as info and notes about your ideas and goals for the text, give us an idea of what the brand is as a whole.
If it’s a brand new venture.
Exciting! Show us the website (even if it’s just a temporary domain or screenshot), brand guidelines, logo, or packaging mockups. Providing us with brand visuals gives us an overall feeling of what your brand represents and how it will be perceived by others. My background is in design, so I’ll often discover key features within your logo or brand colour palette that will guide the tone of voice that I use for your brand.
If you’re already a long-established brand.
Send examples of your past marketing materials, whether that’s a printed flyer, packaging, or previous blog posts. Let us know whether you’re hoping for the tone and writing style to stay the same, or if you need a completely new direction, and explain why you felt a refresh was needed.
And if you’re an exciting new food brand, well… a little taste definitely wouldn’t hurt… 😉
6. Set A Realistic Deadline
Work out a reasonable deadline for when you would like to receive the work. Just bear in mind, like any business, copywriters keep a busy schedule, so we may not be able to accommodate rush jobs. But there’s never any harm in asking!
Depending on the size of the project, a typical turnaround time for writing can be anywhere from a few days, to a month or two. You may find you’re not in any particular rush for the work, but make sure to arrange a deadline anyway. Building and managing a brand can be a monumental task, so having an expected deadline helps you to keep on top of things.
7. Remember That Quantity Doesn’t Always Mean Quality
When you receive work to review from a copywriter, keep in mind that we work to keep things as readable, compelling, and understandable as possible for your clients. We choose the most critical and valuable points of your brand to highlight in specific areas. Our goal is to create a piece of text that allows your readers/clients to engage with your brand and carry out an action. Be that signing up to your email list, buying a product, or hiring your services.
Sometimes copy is more effective when it’s short and punchy, rather than stuffed with unnecessary adjectives, or overly drawn out into a long-winded explanation.
Essentially, don’t be alarmed if the copy seems short, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t perfectly covering everything that needs to be said. There are general averages for certain areas of copy. For example, a product description is often around 300 words, and an email subject line around 7 words. But these numbers are only general averages, and can be broken, which when used well, can help you stand out from competitors. So keep this in mind when providing feedback, or if you think something is missing.
8. Make Sure Feedback Is Constructive
While writing, a copywriter will immerse themselves into your industry and world, however, as you are the industry expert, you may notice areas where you would like to add or change something.
Copywriters know to expect revisions, but make sure your feedback is useful and constructive. You know your industry inside out, and a copywriter knows sales copy inside out. A great copywriter will be able to merge the two, but expect to make a few tweaks or changes. (You may discover you don’t want or need changes, and this happens often too!). But being condescending, or just saying “I don’t like it.”, is a little vague. Try and really unearth what you think is missing, and your copywriter will work to fix it.
9. Group Your Revisions Together As Much As Possible
I recommend this in my terms and conditions as it’s the best way to make the most of your copywriter’s time and expertise, and it will save you money! Set aside some time, with a nice hot drink, to read through the text that your copywriter has crafted. Grammar and clarity should be in tip-top shape, however, you may want to make some factual changes (like ingredients or calculations, or alter the tone of voice slightly).
Grouping your changes together firstly helps you make the most of your copywriter’s time, as some charge for extra revisions. However, it also helps you to sit down and really understand the content being created for you. Plus, it makes it easier and quicker for your copywriter to make the amendments, and send over the final, polished piece of text!
10. Make Sure You’re Happy With The Final Draft
Whenever I send work for clients to review I like to emphasise that they should be honest with how they feel about the work. Like a logo, or brand colour scheme, you should feel proud of the copy that sits on your website or that is sent out to your clients in a welcome email.
Once the project is completed, any further changes or amendments will need to be invoiced. So make sure you’re happy with the final piece of work, and if you have any questions or comments make these when sending revisions, not after project completion.
11. Pay Your Invoice On Time
It seems an obvious and straightforward point, but paying invoices can often get swept up into a busy schedule, especially if you’re finding yourself in a busy seasonal period, or working with multiple freelancers or specialists at once. Like photographers and designers. Keep on top of things by setting reminders to keep payments on track, so you don’t reach the end of a month with a heap of bills to pay.
While some copywriters are part of a copywriting agency, the majority of copywriters are self-employed freelancers. Each essentially forming their own small business. Like many small businesses, margins can be tight and compared to a large business, where an unpaid invoice can go unnoticed for a little while, freelancers are dependant on being, well… paid!
12. Do You Know Your Brands USP?
One of the most important factors when creating a successful business is your USP. A brand USP or ‘Unique Selling Point’, is a short sentence or phrase which summarises what your brand offers. It’s a statement that highlights why you are unique, and why customers should choose you, instead of your competitors.
If you have a USP, make sure your copywriter knows exactly what it is. In the questionnaire that I send to new clients, I ask this very question, as it’s such a critical factor. It helps you define exactly what your business is, and how it serves your clients. If you haven’t yet defined your USP, this is something a copywriter can help with, and it can be included within the cost of a project.