Stellar brand messaging, whether represented on the web or in print, is vital to the success of your business.  Many larger businesses hire their own internal copywriters, but hiring a copywriter is a great option when you’re looking to improve your website, create a new brochure, or complete other project-based marketing or advertising campaigns.

Wait…what is a copywriter anyway?

Simply stated, a copywriter writes to sell a product or service (also known as a brand message).  Writing a brand message is both an art and a science – it requires a high level of creativity mixed with persuasion and style, but also a strong understanding of the language required to reach both consumers in general, plus individuals in a particular market.

That said, not just anyone can create a brand message – and not all writers are copywriters.

The NO:

You Get What You Pay For

There are many sites out there that function like eBay, but instead of consumers bidding on items, freelancers bid on projects posted by companies looking for workers with specific skill sets.  Sounds like a good idea, right?  Unfortunately, sites like these sound good conceptually, but are often disappointing in practice.  Because these sites are globally populated, the likely outcome is that your cheapest bidder will have only average English skills and will be either expensive or impossible to communicate with in-person, via telephone or even online, if needed.  Hiring cheap labor this way not only undermines the freelancing industry as a whole, but also results in below-average copy – and that won’t help your business’ brand image.

The YES!

Ask Around

In-person networking groups and networking forums online (like those on LinkedIn) are a great place to start.  Keep in mind: you’re not just looking for a copywriter, you’re also looking to network with a variety of professionals in your industry who’ve probably hired a copywriter at some point.  This is the best way to get first-hand information about a particular copywriter.

Research Before You Hire

Any professional copywriter will have a website with an online portfolio.  Your fellow networking professionals should forward you this information.  Otherwise, a simple Google search for a local copywriter is sometimes the best option.  This way, you can get a feel for the writer before your first contact and well before you initiate a project.

What You’re Looking For…

Professionalism – Is this copywriter serious about their craft and their business?  Use the contact information on the website to email the copywriter about your project.  A professional copywriter will follow up within a reasonable timeframe and will offer suggestions to initiate the next steps, depending upon the contents of your email.  Remember: a copywriter’s job is to excel in communication!

Experience – Does this copywriter have experience working with clients similar to you?  Does the copywriter’s portfolio contain a reasonable amount of sample material?  A writer straight out of college with a portfolio full of clips from the university newspaper might not be a good choice – their experience is likely limited to journalism and term papers, and they may lack the experience required to analyze your target demographic.

Relevance – Does this copywriter have experience writing copy similar to what you’re looking for?  Keep in mind that many copywriters are quite versatile, so if the portfolio displays a variety of excellent examples, it’s very possible this writer will do a great job for you.

The biggest mistake I see in business is the lack of value placed on brand messaging and brand identity. A lot of start-ups feel they know their business well enough to write the copy themselves – they believe that paying for writing isn’t worth the money.  But creating a strong brand message isn’t about just writing or having text—it’s about creativity, persuasion and developing your unique selling point. By hiring the right branding experts, your business will stand out from the competition – and that leads to success. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

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