How Does Hiring A Copywriter Work? The Ultimate Guide (2021)

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If you’re thinking about hiring a copywriter but you’ve never worked with one, you’ll be wondering:

  • How much do copywriters cost?
  • How does hiring a copywriter work?
  • And why use a copywriter in the first place?

In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about hiring a copywriter so you can be sure it’s the right thing for your business, and so you find the best copywriter for your project.

Let’s get cracking.

Before Hiring A Copywriter

What’s your budget? 

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I always ask any new client what their budget is before we get into any kind of serious discussion about their project.

And most of the time, people don’t have a clue.

“I don’t know. I’ve not worked with a copywriter, so I don’t know how much it costs,” is what I get.

But you need to have some kind of figure in mind you’d be happy to spend because that’s going to shape what kind of copywriter you’ll hire.

Usually, you don’t know what your budget is until you hear how much it can cost. Then you’ll naturally think: “that’s not that bad…” 

Or “HOW MUCH!?”

So let’s look at some typical project prices and ranges.

How expensive is hiring a copywriter?

Hourly v project work

Some copywriters will give you an hourly rate, while others will give you a price per project.

I prefer to price per project. Why? Because the creative process is different to other jobs. I may need to go for a walk. Take a nap, or sit and watch TV for a while to mull ideas over.

I wouldn’t expect you to pay me while I take a couple of hours off, so I agree an overall project price with you and it takes me as long as it takes.

Price per word

Be wary of any copywriter who agrees or offers to give you a price per word.

As copywriters, it’s our job to make things as easy to read and simple as we can using the least amount of words possible.

Less is more when it comes to copywriting, which makes pricing anything by the word ridiculous.

For example, think about taglines and brand names. A copywriter is summing up your business in six words or less. A lot of work goes into those words. About three days’ worth (at least). So charging per word wouldn’t make sense.

An exemption to this rule are blog posts. Most copywriters will have a 1000-word blog, 2500-word blog and 2500+ word blog price structure. In this situation, technically it’s a price per word. However, if the blog says everything it needs to in 800 words as opposed to 1000, they’ll still do that.

Copywriter price range

What a copywriter charges is down to a few things:

  1. Experience
  2. Specialisms
  3. Results

So let’s look at each factor.

New vs Experienced

Like any job, the longer someone’s done it, the better they are (and so the higher rates they can command)

Specialist v Generalist

Some copywriters stick to a niche industry and won’t take on any project that doesn’t fit.

Popular niches include SaaS, FinTech and Healthcare. The way to think of these copywriters is they are experts in their fields, and also happen to be great writers. They’d hold their own in a discussion with you about your product, the market, and the industry as a whole.

Other copywriters (like me) prefer to be specialists in the services we provide, rather than an industry. My specialisms are email marketing, blogs, websites, and sales funnel optimisation. That’s not to say I don’t take on projects outside of this, but those mediums are what I’m best at.

Other copywriters take whatever they can get. They’re usually new copywriters still building up their portfolio and reputation.

So what’s best? A specialist or generalist? There are benefits to both. You see, while an industry-specialist will know the ins and outs of your industry, they’re limited to that industry. Industry-generalists on the other hand, are much more aware of what’s going on in the wider marketing world and will have innovative new ideas to bring to the table to set you apart from your competition. 

Results

Testimonials, knowledge and experience are nice. But results are better.

If a copywriter has a proven track record of tangible results, they’re able to command higher rates because the chances of you getting a return on investment are much higher.

Examples of rates:

Technically, a good copywriter costs nothing. As the copywriter’s rate will be returned tenfold to you in sales. However, here’s a guide to the initial outgoing you should expect:

  New Copywriter Mid-weight Experienced
5-Page website £500 £1350 £3000 – £20,000
Landing Page £350 £750 £3000 – £20,000
1000-word blog £100 £350 £600 +
Six-email Campaign £250 £700 £1000 +

Do you even need a copywriter?

 

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Hiring a copywriter isn’t right for everyone. 

Loads of things affect whether it’s worth it or not, so I’ve summarised some situations that may be similar to yours to help you decide for yourself.

When is a good time to hire a copywriter?

  • If you’re scaling your business.
  • If you’ve had a website for a while and business is doing well, but you know you could be doing better.
  • If you’re just starting out and what you sell is a high-ticket item (expensive).
  • If you’ve been in business before and this is a new project.
  • If you can afford it and want to get your website right the first time.
  • If you’ve got no time to write your own copy.

When is a copywriter not necessary?

  • If you’re on a really tight budget.
  • If you’re interested in email marketing copywriting but have a list of less than 2500 people.
  • If you’re just starting out in business and aren’t too bad a writer yourself.
  • If your website is a ‘shop front’ (e.g a portfolio) or image-reliant.

Hiring a copywriter won’t cost anything in the long-term, as the words we write dramatically increase the likelihood someone will buy something from you. This pays for itself tenfold over the years.

However, if you’re just starting out and money is tight, then it can seem like a considerable investment and not one you should take lightly. Cashflow is king in your early days of business, after all.

If you need blogs and articles, you may want to consider hiring a content writer, who are cheaper than copywriters.

What’s the difference between a copywriter and a content writer?

Copywriters are masters of persuasion. We select language which resonates with your target customer enough to prompt action. Whether that’s buying something off you directly, picking up the phone, or sending an email. 

Any copywriter worth their salt will have completed some kind of formal copywriting education. I’m a certified Blackford Centre graduate, in addition to Digital Marketer (and a load of specialist copywriter courses you won’t care about).

That’s why, when you need your reader to act, a copywriter is the obvious choice. Copywriters often specialise in things like:

Content writers, on the other hand, aren’t trained in the psychology of persuasion.

They’ve often not completed any kind of formal education, but that doesn’t mean they’re not talented writers.

Content writers will specialise in things like:

  • Social media posts
  • Social media captions
  • Short blogs (Buzzfeed style blogs)
  • Reviews

If you’ve got a new website and need 20 short list type of blogs  (e.g 5 Best Dressed Men in Film, 7 Ways to Spring Clean Faster), that’ll cost you a pretty penny with a copywriter. A content writer, on the other hand, will be able to deliver something decent at a much lower price.

Where do you hire a copywriter?

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Now you’ve decided if hiring a copywriter is definitely for you, you need to go about hiring a copywriter. But where can you find them? Three places:

  • Freelancer websites (cheap, but potentially dodgy)
  • LinkedIn (a great place to start – but tread cautiously)
  • Google (be careful)

Freelancer Websites

Upwork. Fiverr. People Per Hour. That sorta thing.

I’d rather be out of work than advertise my services on these websites.

Pretty harsh words, yes, but here’s why:

In my experience, the clients who use these websites are bothered about one thing and one thing only: price.

And that’s not my cup of tea.

I like to build a long-term relationship with my clients. I get to know you as a person, and am 100% invested in your business and its success.

There are some talented copywriters on these websites, and fair play to them for making a living this way. But make sure you do your due diligence before trusting anyone on these websites because in my experience (and the experience of clients who’ve tried this approach before coming to me), there are three main people to watch out for:

  • The disappearing act

This freelancer will say all the right things, but disappear half way through your project. Now, on most of these freelancer websites the website holds your money in escrow in case this happens (so you’re protected financially), but there’s no protection for your time.

  • The Ventriloquist 

This freelancer will look and sound the part, but they lack the skills to back it up. Why? Because they’ve stolen someone else’s portfolio. Yes, this happens. So the work they provide won’t be up to scratch at all.

  • The deadline assassin

This freelancer will seem interested, but you’ll not get your work on time. It may come two weeks late. Maybe three weeks. If at all. They’ll not respond to your emails, nor will they care about the wider implications of their incompetence on your project. 

How can you make sure these copywriters are any good?

You’re 100% reliant on their profile. Check it over:

  • Do they have examples of work?
  • Have they spent time writing their profile properly?
  • Do they have lots of good reviews?
  • And how many verified orders have they fulfilled?
  • Do they answer your pre-project questions timely and properly?
  • Do you get a good vibe?

There are plenty good freelancers on these websites. In fact, there may be some decent copywriters who are new to these websites and so you’ll bag them at a discounted rate. But you’ve got to be careful.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a great place to look for a copywriter. Why? Because you can follow lots of copywriters for a while and make your mind up about them yourself. 

Good copywriters will find interesting ways to promote their own services on LinkedIn. Plus, they’ll share their own articles and useful content to help you with your own digital marketing.

They’ll often share information about themselves too, which helps you trust these people and work out who you’ll get on with (which is important).

Thinking of writing a post asking for a copywriter? Heed this warning:

One sure-fire way to be inundated with messages is to advertise that you’re searching for a copywriter on LinkedIn. The best copywriters won’t actively answer these kind of posts. 

Instead, try asking: “Has anyone ever worked with a copywriter they’d recommend? No self-promotion please.” That way, you can see if anyone you personally trust has used a copywriter and so look over their profile.

How can you make sure these copywriters are any good?

  • Check their profile. 
  • Check any articles they’ve written on LinkedIn. 
  • Check their endorsements. 
  • Check their website.
  • But most importantly, follow their content for a while and get a feel for yourself.

Google

Copywriters on the first page of Google aren’t the best copywriters; they’re the copywriters whose websites have the best SEO.

So make sure you’re still doing your homework on these copywriters as much as you’d do on LinkedIn or freelancer websites.

Examples of Work Vs Results

While examples of work are important, I argue results and testimonials outweigh them. Why? Because each project and tone of voice is completely unique to each customer. 

That means stuff copywriters have written before may not be in your voice. So that work won’t necessarily resonate with you.

If a copywriter has a proven track-record and loads of happy customers on, it’s a knocking bet they’re going to nail your project too.

During your project

 

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Agreeing a project brief

The first step in the copywriting process is to agree a project brief.

Be wary of any copywriter who won’t spend at least 60-90 minutes with you going through some kind of copywriting questionnaire. 

You may have a decent idea about what you’re looking for. At the same time, you may not.

The questionnaire I take my new clients through tells me everything I need to know about their project. This saves me coming back and forwards to you for more information.

Often people think they want one thing, but they actually need another. If we didn’t go through the discovery call, we’d never work that out.

If your copywriter is good, they’ll ask you loads of questions. We often ‘play dumb’ and pretend not to know things so you explain them in your own words as this is great material for us. So if your copywriter doesn’t ask you lots of questions, you should be wary.

A copywriter will usually ask for a 50% deposit for your job at this point.

The first draft

After a few weeks (or whenever you’ve agreed), your copywriter will have a first draft ready for you.

What has the copywriter been up to during this time? Read my copywriting process and find out.

Remember this, the first draft is the first draft. It’s not supposed to be 100% right (and never is).

The second, third and final drafts

We need your feedback to be specific and detailed so we can get it right for you the next time. 

A copywriter will typically include three rounds of revisions as standard in their quote. This gives you plenty time to give feedback and for the copywriter to correct it.

Be wary of any copywriter who doesn’t include at least three rounds of amends.

After Your Project

Once you’ve signed off the work, the copywriter will send you an invoice for the remaining 50% of the project.

They may also suggest other work that would benefit your business (like blogs, lead magnets, and email marketing campaigns).

This isn’t the copywriter trying to pressure you for more work. You have no obligation to say agree, after all. But most copywriters are expert marketers and now they have a deep understanding of your business and your market and customers, they may have had ideas they think will benefit you.

Hear them out. And make up your own mind if it makes business-sense to proceed.

All Clued Up?

That’s how hiring a copywriter works.

If you’ve still got questions about the process, email me at alex@actcopywriting.co.uk.

And if you like the sound of the above, do your due diligence on me now.

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