“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”—Robert Frost
Companies like CopyPress exist because the content process is hard. Scaling content is difficult. Despite scale, many companies simply find it hard to find great copywriters.
The issue isn’t that there aren’t great copywriters to be found. There are amazingly talented copywriters all over the world. The issue comes down to a key few points:
- Companies commoditize copywriting. Services still exist in 2021 offering copywriting at 2 cents or lower a word, and purchasing companies often aren’t knowledgeable enough to understand the difference between levels of copywriting expertise. For example, imagine trying to hire a senior Python developer with 13 years of experience at the same rate as a recently graduated computer science major. We don’t commoditize other roles, but copywriting is heavily commoditized.
- Companies don’t know how to vet, hire and train for the perfect copywriter.
Learning how to find great copywriters for your project means learning how to properly vet writers, give them great training, and value their specific skills.
In order to properly vet writers, you need to have a content creation plan in place. The skill sets of planning a full content marketing plan and copywriting are different.
This is where a lot of businesses go wrong.
They believe that simply by finding the right writers, they can scale their content marketing plan with ease. There are many copywriters who do have the skill set to both plan and create, but you should not enter into the copywriting hiring process with the idea that writers are going to help you plan and manage your overall production.
In order to properly vet a copywriter, you need to establish your style guide and the content types you intend to create. Without these concepts established, you are blindly journeying through a maze of potential copywriters with no guidance. Not every copywriter can write on every topic, and not every copywriter excels at every type of copy.
At CopyPress, we’ve found great value in paying applicants to complete test articles based on style guides and training we have created. The cost is high in the vetting process, but this makes sure we are matching skill sets appropriately with the campaigns we are staffing for.
Enough cannot be said about knowledge fit to content. If you are writing travel-related copy, the lift for a copywriter with deep experience in consumer technology will be heavy. This isn’t to say that the consumer tech writer couldn’t be trained to write for the travel space, but every industry has jargon and information that readers see as a baseline, and bringing along a writer with no experience in the space can be a frustrating experience for both parties.
Here are some other traits to vet for when hiring a copywriter:
- Research ability: Regardless of their expertise, a good copywriter is going to have to do research on their topic. One way to vet for this ability is to have the writer include an outline and research notes with their test. Remember to pay the copywriter you are vetting accordingly.
- Portfolio: If you are hiring a writer with a specific knowledge base and skill set, getting their past portfolio of bylines is important. Your paid content test will show you how they handle your content style, but their portfolio will show you their specific expertise and style
- Interview questions:
- “Where would you go to research information about our vertical?”
- “How long does it take you to produce [X Units]?” I can’t understate the value of knowing that your expectations match the copywriter’s ability. No two copywriters work at the same pace. Getting an idea of how the writer works and making sure expectations are aligned is key to a successful working relationship.
Too many companies simply skip this step. They leave writers in an empty void to “figure out” the puzzle of the perfect piece of content. This leads to endless iteration and frustration.
Training can be as simple as a constructive Zoom call around the style guide and reviewing content from competitors that you find valuable. It is a mistake to assume that the formatting of your style guide fits exactly what the writer needs to move forward. Precise direction and training can lead them to the perfect piece of content much faster.
If you’ve had other copywriters tackle your content before, interviewing them on best practices, tips, and tricks can give you a great foundation for training.
Here are some good questions to answer in the training process:
- Where should the copywriter go to find brand-approved research?
- Where should the copywriter stay away from when researching?
- How does the company handle the editing and QA process? What technology is used? Do an entire training on the technology used to manage the process, making no assumptions about the copywriters’ knowledge level with the tech.
- What are content pieces you or competitors have created that the writer should look to for inspiration? What specifically makes them the example to follow?
- What are content pieces you or competitors have created that the writer should stay away from? What specifically makes them off the mark?
Value Writers Correctly
All copywriters are not the same. You are not going to be able to hire a copywriter with deep experience in enterprise technology for the same rate you would be able to hire a copywriter who has very general experience and just started their career.
Even beyond expertise, different writers have different skills. Great sales copywriters are worth their weight in gold and may not have a desire to do research-heavy content. Great research writers may not have the same ability to craft a headline or call to action as a great sales copywriter.
Before setting out on the journey of hiring your next copywriter, make a list of skills that are important for the individual to have and prioritize them from greatest importance to least. You may find, based on your budget, that you need to make a compromise on the skills you can actually attain for that budget.
The worst thing you can do is just look up a salary on Google and assume ALL copywriters should be set at this value. It is also incorrect to believe that due to the slow death of newspapers and magazines there are a plethora of insanely talented writers just waiting for the opportunity to work on anything. The boon of content marketing and systems like Substack and Patreon have given copywriters a ton of income opportunities. Great writers today can actually earn more than they could a decade ago, and this is a reality that someone looking to hire a high quality writer must face.
Copywriting is one of those things that you most definitely get what you are willing to pay for. If your desire is high quality, expert-level content, you need to be willing to pay for that level of content. An unrealistic view of the market and copywriter value will leave both parties heavily frustrated.
Great copywriters aren’t hard to find; you likely have just been approaching the hiring process incorrectly. Vetting, training, and budgeting correctly for the right copywriter can make an immediate difference in your content creation strategy. It can help you find the right copywriter for your project and help you get out of the endless cycle of finding the “next copywriter” by finding the right fit for your long-term needs.