How to hire the perfect copywriter
Updated: Jun 21, 2021
It’s crazy how many of you are out there struggling right now to find a copywriter.
Every day I get questions from people on social media asking me about the ways to find the right person to not only be the voice of their copy, but also engage clients, convert competitively, and build their brands.
First of all, breathe. You’re not alone.
Finding a copywriter is one of the most difficult hires you’ll have to make.
Why? Because they literally have to be YOU (and let’s be honest, who out there is as bomb as you? 😉)
But let’s imagine this unicorn does exist (but obviously isn’t as pretty as you, just saying)...
How do you know they’re the right one?
The 5 steps below give you a game plan for how to source, test, train, and sustain a lasting relationship with your dream copywriter.
How to Hire the Perfect Copywriter
5 Easy Steps to find “The One”
Step 1. Get clear on what you need
In my former life as a corporate department head, I was in charge of hiring junior level writers to help me with various projects across multiple marketing channels.
I don’t think I understood yet just how complicated the task was going to be. After all, I am a copywriter… it shouldn’t be that hard to hire one, right?
Nope. It’s tough. Even for those of us who do it for a living.
Here’s a secret…
Just because a person is a writer, it doesn’t mean they are the right one for your industry, your desired business outcomes, or to represent the voice of the brand.
There are writers who are great for certain industries and not others. Or they can write great short form copy but not long form.
Knowing what you want and need before you start looking is essential to save you time and money in your search.
So here’s what to do.
First, make a list of all of the projects you’re working on which will require copy.
And if you’re already working on them yourself, note how long it takes you. This will help to estimate the total of monthly hours you’ll need resources.
And a little caveat on this… just because a writer is fast doesn’t mean they’re good. Just because they’re good doesn’t mean they’re fast. And neither means they're cheap. Capisce?
Noting your hours is basically just a starting point for understanding the scope of what you’re looking to get off your plate.
Next, start a document with some of your favorite written examples across the platforms you’ll be using. It can be brands you like outside of your industry, your competitors, or other people/brands from inside your industry.
Make notes on what you like about each one and why. Like:
Do you prefer minimal copy?
Are you obsessed with how they treat their sales pages?
Do you like their light irreverence?
Do you dig how professional their tone is?
Get super clean on what attracts you to other people’s content so you can offer guidelines to your shiny new writer.
Remember, these are words and feelings, not math! The more adjectives you can define, the easier it will be to spot a similar style and effect in other writers.
Lastly, think about your marketing strategy and KPIs.
Are you trying to reach a different audience? Become a thought leader? Do you have a new product you’re trying to launch? What about those wishlist projects you’d take on if only you could find the right person (like a new website or an ebook)?
All these things matter when moving to the next step and actually pulling from the hundreds of thousands of would-be applicants out there.
Step 2. Sourcing the goods
Which brings us to step number two, finding the one 💍.
Ok, I get it, this isn’t dating, but why not learn a little bit from the app world and start swiping!
No, I’m not suggesting Tinder to start scouting copywriters (but honestly today, who knows 🤷🏻♀️).
But searching bios on LinkedIn (now that you know what you need) is a great way to get started on your search!
Just put together a little “Hey there, I see you’re a freelance copywriter and like long walks on the beach” email to use as you reach out to new connections. Ok maybe not *exactly* that but def include a little personal touch so they know you, like, legit looked at their profile.
Let them know a little bit about what you’re looking for, link them to your website if possible, and ask them to email you or respond in direct message to learn more about the opportunity.
In addition to putting out the word to your own network, you could also use a copywriting agency or a recruiter to find more options.
If that’s not in your budget, LinkedIn is a truly fantastic way to go – and it’s free!
(PS: I know an awesome recruiter who knows literally everyone in the entrepreneurial, info product, digital space, so HMU if you want her info.)
Step 3. Interview with a Copywriter 🧛♀️
Sounds terrifying, no?
Just imagine you’ve got your shortlist from all your networking and LinkedIn searching (and possibly Tinder - no judgment 😉) .
You’ve read through all of their bios, had them send you writing samples, and scheduled your first meeting (I recommend using Calendly to make it easy for multiple people to book on your calendar!).
Now it’s time to meet face to face.
What should you wear? What about music? Wine? Ok… chill… it’s Zoom. They’re going to be writing your copy, not judging your post-quarantine-haven’t-seen-anyone-in-six-months-roots-and-sweatpant ensemble. Promise.
Just to make sure you actually feel confident, here are some questions to ask:
1. What’s your current work situation?
This is important so you can understand how much time you’ll be able to have with this person. And since you already did the calculations in step 1, you’ll have a pretty good idea whether or not it’s going to work out.
2. What are your thoughts on the current messaging you’ve seen on my website/social media/bio?
This is a super important question!
One, it will tell you if they’ve actually taken a look at your business (I mean, it’s what you do to prepare for a new client meeting if you’re smart).
And two, their answers will help you understand whether or not the direction they intuit is in line with where you would like your copy to be (based on the work you did in step 1).
3. What are some ways you would like to grow as a writer?
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from hiring, it’s that people want to grow. If you’re hiring someone who is coming into your business and you would like them to stay, you have to know what they want out of the experience. Being clear on this from the beginning will help you plan for the training and projects that will keep them stimulated and engaged with their work.
Step 4. “I’m not ready to be exclusive”
So, let’s imagine that they’ve nailed all the answers to your questions, they have the right availability, and you like the sample work they’ve sent you.
This is where it gets fun!
Especially if you have multiple people you’ve narrowed it down to…
You offer a paid writing opportunity for the same upcoming piece you need produced.
Make sure to give them clear direction about how you want people to feel, what you want readers to do, and some background on the audience they’ll be addressing.
Equip them with examples from some of your faves in your industry, data and articles if the subject requires detailed information, and specs on length, character count, and relevant channels (i.e. Facebook, a blog, a magazine article).
Also be sure to let them know how you prefer your copy delivered. Google Docs are a great way to share among teams without hassling with attachments and incompatible computer software.
Note: you need to agree on a price and a deadline before the conversation ends.
Remember, you’re testing a future employee. You want them to be comfortable with the rate you’re offering for sample work, as well as be able to demonstrate that they can follow direction and deliver on time!
Again... You 👏 should 👏 pay 👏 them 👏 for 👏 the 👏 work.
It doesn’t matter if you use it or not.
Phew, ok. I feel better now.
So once you’ve received all the copy docs, get in there and review.
Punctuation and grammar
Ability to follow your direction
Accuracy of your or your brand’s voice
Strong CTAs (Calls to Action) if applicable
Clear use of language relevant to your audience type
Accuracy conforming to the specs and instructions to share the copy
Adherence to the deadline (this is a BIG one for me!)
Step 5. Will you be my unicorn? 🦄
It’s time. You’ve found that special person.
The one who just gets you.
Who can take the things you say and turn them into the world’s greatest conversion copy.
All while wearing sweatpants.
Let’s be honest, you both deserve a round of applause 👏🏽 for getting this far… but it’s not quite a done deal.
You've got to dot your i's and cross your t's.
There’s a pay rate to define, papers to sign, negotiations…
And honestly, this is my least favorite part. A lot of people will surprise you at the last minute with unexpected salary requests, unforeseen availability constrictions… You name it, I’ve seen it.
There is no easy way around it. It’s part of the joy of being a business owner. But luckily for you, now that you know what you need, what’s out there, and how to find the right person, if it doesn’t work out, you’ll bounce back quickly.
And remember that second choice?
Can they be trained? Do you want to give them another try with a different project? You have options!
The point is, you’ve got this. And no matter how long it takes, it’ll be worth it.
The benefits of finding the right person to be you, write like you, and speak for you are immeasurable when compared to the work you put into finding them. Not to mention the return on your investment when the copywriter you find is able to do all the things you wish you could do if only you had the time…
Stay calm and copy on!