As a small business owner, you need to market yourself to attract new clients, keep your existing clients engaged, and ensure your business grows. You will need marketing methods that are cost effective and easy to execute.
Today the buzzwords around promoting yourself in business are 'content marketing'.
Recent surveys tell us that 80% of people prefer to learn about a company through written content (usually on the company website). Compared to traditional advertising, content marketing costs an average 62% less, while producing 3 times as many leads.
A well written and interesting blog on a company website will generate more internet traffic, lead to shares on social media, and convert to clients and business productivity for you. In addition, good copywriting on a business landing page and other excellent web content will determine whether a person 'browsing' becomes a customer.
Most small business owners don’t have the time, let alone the skills or knowledge to create this copy themselves. This is when it is worth hiring a freelance copywriter to create the content for you that will grab the attention of your target audience.
Hiring a freelance content writer is not the same as taking on a full-time employee. Factors of high importance when you interview a permanent staff member are less relevant. Many small business owners feel uncertain about what to consider when looking for a freelance copywriter for their business.
10 Tips to Hire the Best Content Copywriter for Your Small Business
Luckily, if you allow it to be, hiring a great copywriter for your content marketing can be simple. Here are 10 ways to keep it so.
1. Make Sure the Writer Can Write!
Never overlook the obvious when it comes to hiring a copywriter! Ensure that the writer can write and write the type of copy you require.
Ask for samples of their work. A new writer may not have built up a huge portfolio of work to astound you with, but they should still be able to demonstrate that they can write well.
Consider their language fluency and grammatical abilities.
Most professional writers will write in the language that is their mother tongue. Some extremely fluent linguists can write in a language that is not native to them but for others, there may be small inaccuracies in their writing language. This is where writing samples will help identify any potential issues.
2. Check They Can Adapt Their Writing Style to Engage Your Audience
If you are paying a writer to interact with your clients and represent you, then you need to know their writing will engage your audience.
Do you generally have a relaxed, laid-back image?
Are you very corporate?
Is the writing for the general public or is it for professional colleagues or customers?
The writer you hire will need to be able to adapt their style in such a way that your target audience will be engaged, informed and enticed to be loyal to your business.
Your readers need to understand the message clearly and know what they need to do with that information.
Discussing work with the writer before you hire them and looking at samples of their writing should inform you as to whether you think they could fit their writing style to your needs.
3. Ensure the Freelance Writer Can Follow a Brief
When you hire a freelance writer, it is to create specific writing for your project or business. You need to know that the writer you hire will write to the brief you set for them unless they have discussed and agreed to changes with you first.
When hiring a freelance copywriter, speak to them to discuss the project.
It may be that you want advice on how to create the right sort of content that converts to business for you. Copywriters are highly skilled in writing materials that boost conversion rates. As a result, many freelance writers will have great ideas so do use their expertise.
Once you have established a brief you are happy with then it is important you have a writer you can trust to meet it. The last thing you need is to find that the end product is far from what you had in mind!
Take the time to discuss details with your writer before you hire them and get a feel for how well they understand your requirements.
Requesting testimonials from any previous clients or endorsements of their work can also be a good indication.
4. Is the Freelance Writer Reliable, Efficient, and Professional?
You are hiring a freelance writer because you lack the time or skills or do not wish for the ‘headache’ factor of producing this copy yourself.
Hiring a freelance copywriter needs to be a process that will make your life easier and not be time-consuming. It should not cause you sleepless nights worrying if they will produce professional work on time.
Finding a writer who is reliable, professional, and can meet the deadlines you have agreed to in advance is vital.
Using a copywriter you do not know will naturally raise concerns and to some extent, only time will tell as to how reliable they are. However, a conversation with the writer before hiring them should give you some indication of their professionalism.
When speaking to the writer consider what questions they are asking. Are they asking questions relevant to the work you want them to do? A good writer needs plenty of information about you, the business, your clients and your products or services.
Is the writer forthcoming on likely time-frames for work? A talented writer is likely to have other work commitments and will need to factor this in when advising you on a turnaround time for your project. A writer who tells you from the start where they can fit your work in around other deadlines will indicate that they are managing their time effectively and are more likely to meet realistic targets.
Consider checking testimonials or ask to speak to previous clients. An experienced writer will provide this information, which can reassure you in hiring them.
5. Consider Whether You Like Them
An important consideration when hiring a copywriter is whether they are personable, and you feel you can get along with them.
Granted, you are not looking for someone to become your best friend, go to the pub with, or who needs to support your favorite football team. However, it is important that you like the writer you hire, and you are comfortable talking to them.
Each of us is unique and we all gel with people differently. The only way to find out if you might like a writer is to chat with them.
Speak to the writer on the phone or have an email conversation. It will soon become clear how personable you find the writer and if you feel they are a good fit to write for you.
6. Is Specialist Knowledge Really Important?
Many people make the mistake in the hiring process of thinking that the writer needs to have specialist knowledge in their industry. The good news is that this is often not the case!
The writer you hire needs to be able to write. They need to be able to write good material that will convert to business and engage your clients.
The writer you hire does not need to know much about your industry - in fact, it can often be advantageous if they do not possess specialist knowledge.
If your writer can either be given the information you would like ‘translated’ into copy to fit the brief, or they are given the time to find the relevant information themselves, then this is all that is necessary. A good writer will research, learn as they go, and translate complex materials on a variety of topics to fit the target audience.
There is a term often used when it comes to copywriting of, ‘the curse of knowledge’. When we are an expert in a subject we forget that others do not even comprehend the basics or the complex terminologies we use. A writer who is not an industry expert can be more adept at translating the terminology and principles to a general public audience.
There are always exceptions to this - highly specialized industries or complex B2B materials will need greater specialist input.
On the whole, however, a skilled writer will be more important to you than a specialist.
This is all good news for you - finding good writers can be challenging enough. To be able to widen your search to a good writer and not a good specialist will increase the pool of writers from which you select.
7. How Much Does Experience Matter?
How vital is it to you that the writer has a large level of experience?
You will find equally excellent writers who are new to the market as you will very experienced and skilled copywriters.
Of course, a writer who has worked for years will bring that level of experience to their work. They may write faster; they may understand the processes better; they might have key connections that they have built up.
An experienced writer is also likely to cost you much more.
A less experienced writer can often bring high motivation, excellent skills, fresh ideas and might be more flexible to suit a given brief. Do not put more significance on a writer’s portfolio size than you need to.
8. Initially, Forget Long-Term Contracts
Hiring a freelance writer is different from employing a regular worker for your business. If you are unsure about how good a fit a writer might be for you, consider working with them initially on a small project to get a feel for their work.
On an initial small project, if you do not feel that they are a good fit for you, then you can simply not hire them again!
Of course, if you do find a writer you like and who writes well then you may well consider future longer term or more detailed contracts with them.
A good writer will be in demand, so when you do find someone you like, and you have ongoing content writing requirements, then ensure you sign them up early.
9. Disregard Geography
The beauty of hiring a freelance copywriter is that in the internet age, limiting your search to your local area is unnecessary.
Your writer could live anywhere in the world but still be able to do a great job for you by means of communication by telephone and the internet.
The considerations outlined above should be more important than where your copywriter is based.
Again - great news! Your pool of potential talent is much greater now than having to find an excellent writer in your home-town (although there may well be great writers close to home too!).
10. Degrees and PhD’s.... Really?
The final factor that often over-complicates a search for a freelance copywriter is when too much importance is put on academic background.
What makes a great writer for you is not necessarily someone who has a First Degree from Oxford University in Aeronautical Design!
A PhD in any topic does not necessarily translate into a person able to write great copy for you.
Do not put too much importance on qualifications when hiring your writer.
Some level of college or university background might indicate a writer who has a deeper level of research skills or more complex writing abilities. Very often these are also skills your non-qualified writer will display with as much (or more) talent.
The writer you hire does not need to be able to fly an airplane for you or stand up in court as a barrister... they need to be able to write.
If you limit your search too much by only considering those with university qualifications, you might well be missing out on some incredible writers!
There concludes this article about how to simplify your search for a freelance copywriter.
Keep it simple, start hiring content writers, and watch your content marketing take your small business to another level.
Our guest author Helen Barnes is a freelance content and copywriter based in the UK.
She focuses her work on writing for small businesses, as well as for the medical industry.
A nurse by background, Helen is now dedicated to providing a professional and full-time service to her business clients.