Phil McCumskey offers professional website and print copy writing in the United Kingdom, Europe & South Africa.
Phil's weekly blog on copywriting tips and tricks for aspiring content writers

Advice on choosing a copywriter

Okay, so your company needs a well-written brochure, a short press release or some fresh website content. Well, the smartest decision you can make is to hire a professional copywriter. Why? Simple. Because the words of your message are more important than glossy images and graphics… so don’t skimp on your copywriting budget.

Now, you may think you know your own business best and can do the job perfectly well but you’d be wrong! First, you’re too involved to see things as an outsider would and second, you’re not trained to write about it!

A good copywriter, on the other hand, is able to look at your business with a fresh perspective and write about it intelligently and creatively. After all, that’s what copywriters do. Finding the right copywriter and working well together is the tricky bit… so here are some terrific tips to help you do just this:

Finding a Copywriter

Ask your work colleagues if they know of, or have worked with, a professional copywriter before. If not, ask some of your clients if they can recommend one. If all else fails, just Google “Copywriter.” Then go through the results and check out the websites until you find one or two copywriters that strike a chord with you. Remember, you can easily work with a copywriter who’s in another part of the country as, in most cases, everything can done via e-mail. It may be copywriting style, previous work or just a sense of humour that impresses you about a particular copywriter. Now, ask for a few samples of their work as well as client references. Read through the samples and contact at least two of the references.

Note: Unless your business is very technical, don’t worry if a copywriter hasn’t done similar work because all good copywriters will research your particular type of business and, in the process, become very knowledgeable.

Preparing a Brief

It’s important that the copywriter knows exactly what you’re looking for, so write out a short brief of what you require, who your intended audience is and your completion date. Include your thoughts on the tone of the communication and list some of your company’s unique strengths. Now send this to your chosen copywriter and ask for comments and a quote. Some copywriters will respond with a few initial ideas as well as their costs and this is the kind of copywriter you should look out for… one who is prepared to spend some of his or her own time on your ideas.

Contracting a Copywriter

Once you’ve decided on your copywriter then, in writing, confirm the job, the deadline and the cost and make a point of reading the copywriter’s Terms and Conditions normally included on his or her website. These deal with copyright issues, reproduction rights, client confidentiality, rejection fees and a host of other important aspects.

Working with the Copywriter

Your writing project will probably involve a few people in your organization but make sure that the copywriter does not have to deal with each of them as they will normally have their own ideas and may request changes and edits which will be confusing and add to the cost of the job. Appoint one person to liaise with the copywriter. He or she can obtain input from other colleagues and then relay these comments or suggested changes to the copywriter in one document.

Note: It’s also vital that you keep the final decision maker – be it your CEO, Managing Director or Marketing Director – in the picture every step of the way so as to avoid costly revisions later on. Remember that most copywriters will advise you how many drafts are included in their quoted price (if not, ask them). Try to keep within this number otherwise further costs will be incurred.

It’s a Two-Way Street

Be sure to let your copywriter know what works and what doesn’t… and be specific. For example: “Yes, we love the way you’ve explained the printing procedure….”  “Sorry, but the Managing Director is not happy with the section on Recruitment. Please re-write it in a more business-like tone.”  Copywriters need this type of feedback and the work will be better for it.

Client Copywriter Chemistry

A good chemistry between you and your copywriter is important. Working together effectively means you’ll end up with top quality work… and you’ll now have a copywriter who now knows a lot about your company and is eagerly awaiting your next assignment.

Please feel free to contact me via phone or email if you would like to discuss your next copywriting project with me.