Copywriting 101: Everything You Need to Know Before Hiring a Writer

everything you need to know about copywriting and ghostwriting before you hire a writer

I’ve written quite a few posts for my own blog, but (honestly) as a writer for others it can be hard to keep up with my own responsibilities. I figured I would take a moment to jot down every possible question I can think of that someone may ask – whether they are new to the copywriting field or are a seasoned veteran. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know before you hire your first (or a new) copywriter to help you create content for your website.

About Copywriting:

What Is Copywriting?

Copywriting is an industry term that refers to the creation of copy for websites and marketing. This is just text that is created for a specific purpose. Copywriting can have many different purposes; here are a few:

  • Inform on a topic or raise awareness
  • Help a site get ranked in search engine results
  • Motivate or inspire readers
  • Discuss a product and make sales
  • Drive social media shares
  • Describe and sell a service

There are also many different formats that copywriting can take:

  • Blog posts
  • Advertisements
  • Video scripts
  • Social media posts
  • Website and landing page text
  • Case studies
  • Whitepapers
  • Business summaries
  • Brochures
  • Email campaigns

When a writer produces copy, they consider what format needs to be written, what the purpose of the content is, and who the target audience is. The target audience is the collection of people who will be viewing the content and (hopefully) performing whatever desired action the business owner is aiming for. These are the three main pillars for every piece of copy: purpose, format, and target audience.

What Is the Difference Between Copywriting and Ghostwriting?

Many new writers will enter the field with little understanding of what the subtle nuances of copywriting and ghostwriting are. Ghostwriting is a category of writing in and of itself, under which copywriting falls as a sub-sub category. Ghostwriters are called this because they do not get credit for any content they create. However, ghostwriters can write any type of text, including full novels, if the price is right. Copywriters, like ghostwriters, create copy without being awarded credit. The difference is what copywriters create: text that has a business-related purpose.

What Do I Hire a Copywriter For?

Some business owners hire copywriters only for one type of writing but handle all others themselves. For example, imagine you are an entrepreneur that loves blogging – and you’re really good at connecting with your audience that way. However, you despise creating advertisements. A good solution for you might be to hire a copywriter to write advertisements that you can run a campaign for in AdSense. Using copywriters doesn’t have to be an “all or nothing” experience. 

Again, copywriters can be hired for any of these tasks:

  • Blog posts
  • Advertisements
  • Video scripts
  • Social media posts
  • Website and landing page text
  • Case studies
  • Whitepapers
  • Business summaries
  • Brochures
  • Email campaigns

Why Would I Need to Hire a Copywriter?

Most of my clients hire me because they simply don’t have enough time to do it all (and having copy that suffers isn’t a good solution). When it comes to running your own business, there are many aspects to consider, control, and coordinate. For those entrepreneurs that want to outsource their least favorite tasks, hiring a freelancer (like most copywriters) can be a welcome relief to their overflowing plate. Additionally, having someone else take over the less stimulating aspects of running a business can help your overall satisfaction; you get to do the things you love and so does the writer you’ve hired.

What Is SEO and What Does It Have to Do With Copywriting?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is simply a fancy process that places the right words in the right place so that search engines will recognize, rank, and serve your content to potential viewers. Search engines like Google and BING have their own standards, and they’re always being tweaked and optimized. SEO can be a fun challenge, but most business owners don’t need to spend their time on the research necessary to create optimized content.

The bottom line is this: if you’re paying for content for your website, you might as well make it search engine optimized so that you get the best bang for your buck. It might be cheaper to skimp in this area, but you’ll be selling yourself short.

How Often Should I Be Posting to My Business’s Blog?

This is a great question that really doesn’t have a solid answer. I can tell you, for sure, that the key isn’t how often you post but that you do post regularly. Search engines love websites that are consistently updated and revitalized. This is a sign that the business is bursting with success and activity. You can add a blog post once a day or once per month – what matters is that you add content to your site on a regular basis.

Hiring a Writer:

How Do I Hire a Copywriter?

There are many different ways you can discover and hire new writers, but the most common ways are through recommendations or a freelance platform. Good writers will be great business owners who know how to get a website and optimize their own content, but, in all honesty, we aren’t web developers – we’re writers. I say all of this because I don’t want you to judge a writer based on their infographics or their website; look at the text they have written on their website or chat them up on whatever platform they’re comfortable with.

Should I Use the Same Copywriter for All of My Writing?

Definitely. Each writer has a unique style that is best used in conjunction with all of your other content. Content that flowsmakes more sense to the reader. If you have multiple writers create different content for your business, it might feel a bit piecemeal and forced when all of the different parts come together to form a whole.

Are All Copywriters Good at SEO?

Good copywriters are good at SEO, yes. However, copywriters usually work for those who are setting up or managing websites, like marketing agents and website designers. In these cases, it helps to know the SEO ropes, but it may not be the most important aspect that a client is looking for in their writer’s copywriting. In fact, I argue that heavily forced SEO tactics take away from a text’s readability and general “flow.” As a copywriter myself, I’d rather write unoptimized content any day – not because of the extra time it takes to optimize content but because of the interruptions to thought processes that occur (especially when the keyphrases make little sense in a sentence).

Do I Have to Know What Topics I Want?

It’s helpful to your copywriter if you have something to start with. However, it’s not imperative. Your copywriter will likely charge you a research and topic selection fee if you do not come to them with your topic and keywords already planned out. This is because the writer is now doing some of the work of a marketing team member. Some of us are good at this, some of us are not. If you don’t want to come up with the topics for your brand (honestly, you’re the best one to do this), at least give your copywriter a run-down on who your target audience is.

Time and Monetary Investment:

How Much Does GOOD Copywriting Cost?

If you want high-quality, well-researched, thoughtful content, you should be prepared to pay quite a bit. When it comes to website content, you need to stop and ask yourself how much you value your own time. At the end of the day, you’re paying someone else to do something that you would otherwise have to sit down and accomplish. Combined with the fact that this writer may have expertise in an area that you don’t, you should be ready to pay that writer appropriately. Too many writers sell their time for pennies per word; while that’s their choice, it’s demeaning to the rest of us who deserve to be paid far more.

What Happens if I Buy Cheap Services?

I’m not going to say that ever time you buy a $5 blog post there will be plagiarism and errors, but it’s definitely far more likely the less you pay for your content. It might seem appealing to order a post for only $5 – it can’t hurt, right? However, this is where you might be terribly wrong. In order for writers to make a good profit at $5 per post, they need to be churning out 500 words in 5-10 minutes. 

In my experience, this is nearly impossible unless you are copying and pasting (stealing) content. It takes me anywhere from 1 to 2 hours to write a great 500-word blog. This time includes research, review, and the actual writing process. If your $5 copywriter is sending you blog posts, you’d better be running them through a plagiarism checker before you post them: Warning: Exploit Cheap Writing at Your Own Risk

How Long Does a Copywriting Order Take?

As I mentioned above, I can do a 500-word blog post in 1-2 hours. However, if I have a backlog, your request might not get researched and written for several days. Critical projects can usually be completed within 24 hours unless they are lengthy or require additional research. Your copywriter will likely have their own process by which they schedule and plan their projects. Don’t hesitate to reach out to them and ask them when they could complete “X” project with “X” words.

Order Completion:

How Will I Receive My Content?

This will vary from copywriter to copywriter. My favorite way to deliver content is by transferring ownership of a Google Docs file. If you’re curious about why I love Google Docs: The Truth About Why I Use and Love Google Docs

Some copywriters will send a .txt file, and others will send you a .docx file. Workflows vary amongst copywriters, just like their writing styles do. However, I think that Google Docs is a pretty common industry standard. The sharing features and ownership transfer work especially well for our purposes.

What Do I Do if I Need Revisions?

You should have been made aware of your copywriter’s revision policy when you set up your order. If your writer offers revisions, all you have to do is let them know (in detail) what you would like changed about the piece that you received. Some writers charge a fee for substantial revisions, and some may charge you if you request a rewrite. These issues can be eliminated by ensuring that the brief you send your writer is crystal clear and very self-explanatory. When there’s little room for false interpretation, you’re more likely to get exactly what you envisioned.

What Do I Do With the Text My Copywriter Sent Me?

Depending on what kind of content you ordered, you may need to do different things with the text you receive. For example, a blog post can usually be copied and pasted directly into a new blog post that you create with your website tool. A case study, on the other hand, may need to be converted into a .pdf file and uploaded to your website (or emailed out to potential clients). If you have a website manager or a marketing agent, send any relevant content from your copywriter directly to them so that they can take care of it for you.

How Do I Market My Content?

Even content that wasn’t meant for social media originally can be repurposed and added to your social pages. It may take a little bit of summarizing and different verbiage, but all content should be repurposed and reused as many times as you are able to use it. This will help you get the most “bang for your buck” when it comes to purchasing content. Don’t forget to use relevant hashtags and images to help your content have the most impact.

How Do I See How Well My Purchased Content is Performing?

This will depend on what avenue through which you posted your content. If you posted a blog on your WordPress website, for example, you could use one of many plugins to keep track of views or use Google Analytics to see how it’s performing. If you are wanting to evaluate social media clickthroughs, you may be interested in learning about UTM codes and tracking your traffic that way. The answer to this question dives into the marketing side of content development, so this would be a good conversation to have with your marketing agent.

Writing Your Own Content:

How Do I Become a Copywriter?

I wrote a detailed blog on this topic already: How I Started Freelance Writing & Editing. However, the long and short of it involves either setting up your own website and advertising or setting up a profile on the beloved freelancing platforms like Fiverr and Upwork. In the early days, your main focus is on the following:

  • Capturing the interest of a viewer who is looking for your service.
  • Having your prices reflect your “newness” to this field.
  • Getting those 5-star ratings that will assuage new clients’ uneasiness.

Once you’ve developed a small client-base and have several 5-star reviews, you can increase your prices. If you ever get tired of paying 20% to your platform, think about developing your own website and moving everything over.

Can I Do My Own Copywriting?

Absolutely! I always tell people that it’s better to create unoptimized content than to have no content at all. Write about what interests you and your clients. A great place to start is by writing down all of your clients’ frequently asked questions. Create a blog post for each of those questions’ answers in detail, if you can. If you’re looking for more great blog ideas, check out this post: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Posts for Your Blog.

Legal Stuff and Industry Standards:

Does My Copywriter Have to Become An Employee?

No! This is the beauty of the freelancing industry. You can certainly onboard and claim a freelance copywriter for yourself, but you’re going to have to pay them to give up their other clients (and some writers won’t want to do that). The nice thing about having a freelance copywriter in your pocket is that you don’t have to pay them all the time – you only need to pay them per project. This style tends to save small businesses money, and it allows copywriters to write for as many clients as they wish.

Do I Own the Copywriting My Writer Sends Me?

Unless you have signed some type of contract with your copywriter that requires their name be on any post you receive from them, the industry standard is that every piece you purchase from your writer is considered yours. This is one of the reasons I love Google Docs: it allows you to officially transfer ownership of a file to solidify this concept in both of our minds. So, in short, yes – you own the content your copywriter sends you.

Do I Need to Give the Copywriter Credit on My Website?

As an extension of the question above, no, you do not need to give your copywriter credit on any of the written content you post. You can if you want to, however, and some businesses choose to give credit to their copywriters and copyeditors. This is completely up to you and how you want your website to appear to visitors.

Can I Recommend a Copywriter to Others?

You certainly can, and I can guarantee your copywriter would greatly appreciate this. When you recommend a copywriter to others, send them the writer’s website or freelance profile and any contact information you have for them. You can also link them to any posted content that they have written for you. This will all help them decide if that copywriter is a good fit for their business style.

I Like Your Style. How Do I Hire You?

Hey! I’m glad you asked.

If you would like to learn more about anything you saw here or other questions I didn’t cover, schedule a free consultation with me here: Rachel Powell Writing & Editing – Free Consultation. If, on the other hand, you have a specific project in mind already, you can fill out the relevant form below and send me your project details. You’ll receive a quote before I start working on anything, and you can cancel the request at any time.

General Copywriting

Website Content

Case Studies

Skyscraper Content

Video Scripts

Social Media Content

General Copyediting

Long Editing Projects

I look forward to working with you and helping you develop content for your brand!

Rachel Powell

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