Sunday, December 15, 2013

Five Ways to Find a Great Freelance Copywriter

5 Ways to Find a Great Freelance Copywriter
©2013 Kristine M. Smith
Professional copywriters usually charge one to three dollars per word. Here’s how to get one for less—without sacrificing quality.
Every business and entrepreneur needs a professional writer now and then—for web content, a brochure, content marketing articles, you name it. Unfortunately, too many have fallen victim to tens of thousands of charlatans and wannabes who have hung their shingles at scores of online freelance websites and proclaimed themselves copywriting experts. (No certification or testing is required so anyone can claim the title.)
1.      IF you elect to use an online freelance website to look for copywriters (not recommended!) be sure to carefully review each candidate’s profile page, client history and feedback, certified test results, and portfolio. Most of the reputable copywriters have fled online freelance websites (or are fleeing as fast as they can) because the reputation of these sites has plummeted because of the overwhelming numbers of impostors and their resulting unhappy customers; few professionals want to be associated with them anymore. If you go this route, expect to spend hours (perhaps days) sorting through often-laughable sub-standard profiles and portfolios in search of the remaining reputable providers. Bottom line: Don’t settle for less than the best. You’ll get what you pay for at these sites. Remember: you’ll need a result that you can be proud of, not sub-standard copy fit only for lining the bottom of a bird cage.
2.      If you want a local provider, do a search on “your town + copywriter” and see who pops up. Visit their websites and look at their histories, portfolios and client testimonials.  (Note: no professional copywriter tackles all niches; only hacks and wannabes do that—and they usually do it poorly.) When you find ones that impress you, give them a call and make arrangements to meet them to discuss your needs.
3.      If the physical location of your copywriter isn’t an issue, run a search on the kind of copywriter you’re seeking (SEO copywriter, real estate copywriter, web content copywriter, content marketing copywriter, etc.) and check out the credentials and client reviews of the ones you find. I highly recommend that you hire a native professional copywriter from within your own country (wherever you are in the world) when your target audience is also where you are, since he or she will be well-versed in your nation’s idioms, culture and customs and won’t be making major mistakes because of cultural and language issues. If your target audience is in another country, hire a professional copywriter from the same country your target audience is in unless the copywriter can show you copy he has already written for that audience. Why? Because (for example) UK Englishmen speak, spell, and write differently than do Americans, Australians and Canadians; readers can be put off if they run across unfamiliar colloquialisms, spellings or cultural references that they don’t hear at home.   A metaphor like “You hit that one out of the ball park!” resonates in the United States, where baseball is a national pastime; it’ll just raise eyebrows (and sometimes hackles) in other places.
4.      If you aren’t well-versed when it comes to spelling, grammar and punctuation or if you confuse words when you’re writing (there, their, they’re; its and it’s; accept, except; then and than, etc.) find someone else to help you select your copywriter. It’s what you don’t know about spelling, grammar, punctuation and other matters that can come back to bite you professionally unless you find an ally to help you choose a copywriter.
5.      Agree to pay a small fee to the copywriter you’re considering hiring. Have them write a short one-page/250-word sample web page, article or letter on your topic of choice (give them the source materials for this piece); or (ideally) have them edit and enhance a substandard one-page/250-word piece you already have on hand.  Let them know you want the piece back in under an hour (unless they’re absolutely swamped with deadlines). If they can produce the piece to your satisfaction within this time frame, it’s likely you’re dealing with a professional candidate.
6.       Using due diligence you can find an exemplary freelance copywriter to do your bidding, one who won’t charge you an arm and a leg for their services. But please note: if you aren’t able (or willing) to pay at least $100/hour for the services of a professional copywriter, wait until you are. No professional copywriter worth his or her salt is going to write for you while going backward financially. Consider a U.S. copywriter’s reality (which may mirror your own if you’re an American business person or entrepreneur)…
Self-employed freelance copywriters in the USA...
Ø  don't get paid vacations
Ø  don't get paid sick days
Ø  rarely get bonuses for outstanding work
Ø  don't have employer-paid insurance plans
Ø  don't qualify for unemployment when work doesn’t materialize
Ø  have to take into account the time it requires to find and quote on projects
Ø  have to pay 100% of our Social Security, FICA, and other federally-mandated fees instead of just a portion of them
Although freelancers enjoy writing great copy...sadly....enjoyment doesn't pay the mortgage.

Kristine M. Smith is a professional freelance copywriter and the author of seven books. To discover the kinds of projects she tackles and the ones she leaves to other professional writers, please email her at
Permission is hereby granted to reprint this article as long as the copyright notice and this byline is included wherever the reprint appears.

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