The FAQ Guide to Working With a Copywriter

February 26, 2019

If it's your first time working with a freelance copywriter for your business needs, you probably have dozens of questions. We've put together a list of things we get asked all the time — all focused on what working with a copywriter is really like. Here, we'll clarify everything from the applicant search and hiring process to how to manage the relationship successfully.

What Does A Copywriter Do?

A copywriter is someone who writes content with the goal of promoting sales or marketing objectives. This is different from content writers who simply write content with the goal of informing. Essentially, copywriters create web content that informs potential customers and shows them why they should buy your products. Copywriters can create a range of different types of content. They can write content for web pages such as landing pages and FAQ sites as well as engaging content for social media posts, case studies, and press releases.

Creative copywriters can create compelling copy for free ebooks and email newsletters while technical copywriters are adept at drafting white papers and instructional manuals. Copywriters can even create sales letters and materials for advertising agencies to extend your business's reach.

Aside from writing, copywriters also possess marketing skills that can help you increase your visibility and boost conversions. Great copywriters are adept at SEO or search engine optimization—the process of boosting website visibility through organic methods. They can perform content marketing tasks including keyword research, creating a content calendar, and copyediting. They are essentially a valuable part of the marketing team.

Some successful copywriters can also offer web design services. They are skilled in Microsoft Office tools including Excel and Photoshop as well as Adobe Illustrator. These copywriters are a great addition to the team since they can write great copy and produce images to go along with it. Due to their marketing background, copywriters can be creative directors, art directors, and content directors depending on their level of experience.

How Much Experience Do Writers Need?

This depends entirely on what your goals are. If you need a writer that understands extremely technical products such as software, you'll probably want a writer with extensive experience and even a Bachelor's degree. If you want a writer to create catchy social media posts or pamphlets, they may not need as much expertise and a high school diploma may suffice..

Think about the products your company offers. If they require technical knowledge to understand, you'll want to look for a freelancing writer with advanced copywriting skills and prior experience. Entry-level copywriters will be more affordable than experienced ones, but you'll want to balance budget needs with the reality of your business.

What's The Difference Between Freelance and In-House Writers?

In today's digital world, most B2B and B2C companies maintain an online presence. When business owners want to expand that online presence, they have three options: do the work themselves, hire a freelancer, or hire an in-house writer.

Many business owners choose to outsource the writing work because it takes time and skill to write that they simply don't have. If you have decided to hire a writer, here are a few differences between hiring a freelancer and hiring an in-house writer.

In-House Writer

An in-house writer typically works full-time at the company headquarters or office. When hiring these employees, you're typically limited to the talent in your local area whether that's a big city like New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, or a small town. That means the quality of the work is dependent on what kind of talent is in your close vicinity.

An in-house writer will also generally be more expensive than a freelancer. That's because you'll have to offer company perks such as healthcare and retirement plans. These writers typically earn a negotiated salary plus benefits.

Freelance Copywriter

A freelance copywriter enjoys different working conditions than in-house employees. They are typically remote workers that are self-employed or work as contractors. These writers may work from a home office, coworking space, or local coffee shop. If they happen to live near your office, you can even have them come in to work a few times a week or month depending on your needs. People with a freelance copywriting career may choose to work part-time or full-time and often accept one-time projects as well.

The benefit of freelancers is that they are flexible and affordable. You only pay for the services they render since they usually don't receive any benefits. Freelance copywriters can charge by the hour, per project, or per word. Many offer discounted prices when working long-term or for repeat clients.

The onboarding process with freelancers can be much simpler than in-house employees. A freelancer typically agrees to a certain pay rate and then submits an invoice at the end of every month. You transmit the payment and the process repeats. One thing to keep in mind when working with freelancers is that you'll have to stay on top of tax obligations. You'll need to give each freelancer a 1099 form if they render more than $600 in services. This process is often more complicated than with in-house employees.

How Much Do Copywriters Earn?

Copywriter salaries range from $10 per hour to more than $100 per hour. In terms of the cost per piece, entry-level writers looking to build their portfolios may agree to write 1,000 words for $8 while an expert copywriter will charge upwards of $300. A high-quality professional copywriter can command a six figure income annually. If writers need to conduct additional work besides copywriting services — such as research for an article or publishing and promoting content — they may charge an additional fee. Writers may also work directly with the marketing department on marketing strategy, which can incur higher costs. Most professional writers are up-front with prospective clients when it comes to pay rates so be sure to discuss the topic before your hire copywriters.

Discuss the project parameters with your preferred writer so they can estimate how long it would take them to get it done. Based on these estimates, you can get an idea of how expensive the writer is based on their hourly rates.

How Do I Choose A Writer?

Business owners have many outlets when it comes to finding the writers themselves. You can post a copywriting job ad on big job boards where freelancers sift through copywriter jobs. You can also use freelance writing marketplaces such as Upwork, LinkedIn, and Freelancer to find writers that fit your needs. Be clear and concise when creating your job description to help weed out unqualified candidates. A third alternative is to hire an agency to find the writers for you. You can check out the pros and cons of each approach right here.

Once you've received a few applicants, you'll want to establish a set of criteria to narrow them down. Decide if you need a writer with a college degree or a certain level of experience. We've found that it almost always takes two weeks to get writers up to speed on our desired voice, tone, and branding.

The ramp-up time with takes significantly longer if you have to train the writer on knowledge in your niche. That's why we prioritize knowledge over writing style. We find that we can almost always teach the writer our preferred style in a short period of time.

Always ask applicants for previous writing samples. Check to see that these samples are relevant to your niche or industry. Look to see if the writer has written for any large publications or has a proven track record of working with industry thought leaders. Writing samples are a glimpse into the mind of the writer so take your time to read through them thoughtfully. If you like a particular writer, set up a face-to-face interview either in person or using a tool such as Zoom.

Use the interview to establish agreement on pay rate and payment method. Be clear with your expectations and let the writer know how much content you are looking to create. The more transparent you are, the easier your working relationship will be.

How To Manage A Writer

If you're hiring a freelance writer, it's really important to have a system set up to manage the working relationship. We recommend using a time management tool such as Trello or Asana to manage all copywriting projects. At The Writer Finder, we use Asana to track articles and keep team members up to date on their roles. The platform allows you to create cards for each written piece and assign tasks to different team members. It's easy to see what tasks have due dates coming up and where a project is in the pipeline.

The key to working with a freelancer is to stay on top of communication. Use Slack to communicate with writers and create channels to keep everyone informed if you decide to work with multiple writers. Depending on how many freelancers you work with, you may want to use a payroll management tool like Justworks to keep everything organized when tax season rolls around.

Create Content For Your Business

Whether you’re a small business just getting started or a large corporation looking to tap into a related field, creating content is one of the easiest ways to reach your goals. A good copywriter can use their copywriting skills to help build your creative team and connect personally with human readers.

We created this definitive guide to help answer the most common questions that arise when hiring a copywriter. If you're ready to jump in and hire a professional writer, we're here to help. The Writer Finder makes searching for a writer easy. You tell us a little bit about your business and what you're looking for in a writer and we send over a list of hand-picked options tailored to your needs. Get started and produce engaging content today right here.