How To Hire A Writer

Many people who need a writer don’t know how to go about hiring one. So let’s run through the process of choosing the right writer for your project.

Rule #1 – Describe your project and the kind of information you’ll provide, request a flat fee rate including two sets of revisions, and ask for a timeline. If you are an agency or larger client with a per-hour project, you already know the market and the hourly rate you’re willing to pay.

Some writers are consistently hard sell. Others rely predictably on the profuse use of superlative, crushing adjectives. Some are direct. You can identify a writer’s core style by reading their website. Then read a writer’s portfolio of work from the point of view of the audience for that product or service. You’ll be able to see their range and how well they can adapt to a specific audience.

Rule # 2 – Go with your gut instinct. If a writer’s style reverberates within you, they’ll usually be a good fit for you and your project. Not everyone can write, but you don’t have to be a writer to judge whether you like a writer’s work.

Great copywriting is not always grammatically correct, but great copywriters always know the rules of grammar. Native speakers usually have a greater understanding of language nuances. Copywriting is a skill honed by knowledge and experience, but it remains an art, not a science.

Rule #3 – Don’t be bamboozled by writers who pretend to have a magic formula for results. No one can promise that your business will thrive based on their writing. Sales pitches for “foolproof” guides to writing your own copy are usually thinly disguised fishing expeditions for new clients. Unless you’re comfortable with deceit, run the other way.

Copywriting is its own discipline, separate from Internet marketing, web design, graphic design, social media, etc. The old saying “a jack of all trades and master of none” applies here. With experience, especially in an agency setting, copywriters absorb an understanding of marketing and media. They can write a basic marketing plan, create a social media strategy, or set up a simple blog. The more time they spend on outside skills, however, the less time they can devote to the craft of writing.

Rule #4 – If you need great writing, focus on hiring a great copywriter. If you pay $500 for a project, you will get $500 worth of fabulous writing. If too many services are included in the price, though, something has to give – and usually it’s the writing quality.

In line with the above, there is always a tradeoff between quantity and quality. It’s possible to buy outrageously cheap copy from vendors such as oDesk, Guru, etc. If you need keyword stuffing, you can hire someone for $1 a page. For $25 to $30 per page you’ll get a more intelligible product, but the emphasis will always be on the word count rather than substance. In other words, verbosity will outgun style. For an old by still valid argument against using offshore copywriters, please refer to this bit by U.K. copywriter Len Smith: Should I use an offshore SEO copywriter?

Rule #5 – Obtain bids from several writers to get a feel for the market. Established writers keep their fees in line with each other, so avoid extremes. Cheap writers are no bargain. Greedy ones are usually ripoff artists. Choose one with a professional rate and a great portfolio, and you’ll be good to go.