How Do I Find a Copywriter?

Because drawing straws is not environmentally friendly.

Notebook writing

How do I find the right writer to work with my business? I’ve worked with freelancers before, and it’s been hit-or-miss. It’s such hard work to find the right fit, that it seems easier to sit on this project (which, to be honest, has been on the to-do list for waaaay too long anyway). How can I make this happen so it’s worth the time and effort?

Professionals Get the Job Done

There’s a lot of apprehension when it comes to hiring freelancers. We work on our own terms! We call our own shots! We’re our own bosses, and no one can tell us what to do! That can be a bit difficult for business owners who’re used to having control.

Having control over the big picture is why a lot of us got into business in the first place.

But when we need to fill holes in our expertise, or when we don’t have the time, training, or inclination to complete a particular task, it’s time to hire out.

I don’t take my own headshots or do my taxes, and you don’t have to do your own writing.

How do you find a copywriter? 

The ABBA Method

Ask for Referrals. Get a few names of people your friends like and trust.
Budget. How much do you have to spend? It can be flexible and you can be vague about it, but “$200-300” is going to be a different project than “$2000-3000.”
Brand. Think about what you want your brand voice to be. What kind of client are you appealing to?
Affinity. Read some writing from the writers you’ve been referred to. Do you feel drawn to any of them? That’s your best place to start.

Now, let’s talk details.

How to Find a Copywriter

When you hire a plumber, there are Yelp reviews. You can call and ask when they’re available, and what the job might cost. With a copywriter, you might have to do a little more legwork, but you’ll get an awesome result when you use the Dancing Queen method (AKA the Take a Chance on Me Technique, Waterloo Way, etc.).

Ask for referrals

Designers, marketers, coaches agencies, and any of your particularly well-connected business pals should know some writers. Ask around, and try to get 3-4 recommendations — more if your project timelines or budgets are tight.

Budget

How much does it cost?

How much ya got?

Kidding, kidding. 

Kind of.

Like any other professional service, it varies, and most writers get scared when you lead with “what’s it going to cost?” First, we don’t know, because we don’t have an idea of the scale of your project. Secondly, it makes us think that maybe you’re looking for a bargain. Red flag.

If your budget is $500, you won’t be able to get a website written from scratch from a professional copywriter. That’s just too much work and time. If you want a professional result, you need to budget for a professional rate.

My rates, for example, start at $150/page for simple rewrites. New copy starts at $250/page.

Projects can be done in stages, but in most cases, you’ll want to redo your entire website at one time. Strategy is hard to implement piecemeal.

Brand

You’re gathering information from your network and taking a close look at your annual budget. Now it’s time to take a close look at your current communications, and how you’d like them to change.

What kind of writing are you looking for? Is your brand voice quirky, calming, or conversational?

Before you start talking to people about how to reach your goals, know what you want your result to look like.

Affinity

Writing is not an exact science, and it’s not one-size-fits-all. You might not like my writing, and that’s okay! (If not, it’s kind of weird that you’re reading my blog anyway, but you’re very welcome.) But when you read something in a style that resonates, you’ll know. You’ll just like it more.

A copywriter’s website will probably give you enough information to go on by itself — they must’ve written it themselves, after all.

Some writers will click, and some won’t. Pay attention to that first feeling. Writers can write in different styles, some more than others. They’ll want to meet you in the middle to create “your” voice in their words. Make sure your middle ground isn’t a long journey.

What’s next?

Find one or two people whose style you like? Get in touch! See if your budget and timeline will work for them. Get a feel for how they work and communicate.

Okay, you found a couple of people you might be interested in. Cool! Contact them! It might be an email or a phone call where you can feel each other out and get an idea if it makes sense to move forward with a longer introductory meeting.

When you like their writing style, the budget and timeline work for you, they’re enthusiastic about the work you need done, they seem like good people, congratulations. You found a copywriter. Hold on to them!


What issues have you had with hiring communications professionals?

Let us know in the comments, or email me questions at hello@kelleygardiner.com.

I’m always happy to make referrals to other copywriters who fit your project needs and style.

Like this information? I have so much more for my email buddies every month. Get on the list.

How to Not Annoy Local Media with Your Small Business Website

I wasn’t always a writer for small business. I used to write what we call editorial—stuff the website or magazine wants you to read for fun so they can sell advertising.

You know. Like “Eight Portland Dog Shampoo Boutiques You Must Try in April.”

I have not personally tried every dog shampoo boutique in the city.

I don’t even have a dog.

A lot of gathering information for this kind of article, to be honest, is googling and asking around. When those writers are poking around the internet, looking for the best insert your business category here, make it easy to follow up. First, make it easy to connect and fall in love.

If you follow the guidelines below, it might even help your customers do the same.

Earn the Hearts of Local Media with Your Awesome Small Business Website

When you’d like to earn some free media, make life easy on those hard-working writers. They need your phone number to get the quote their editor is requiring, and if they can’t find it you might not end up in that article after all.

Here are the demands. They’re simple, I promise!

wincing dog

Give us the basics.

If you’re open certain hours, please list those hours and keep them current. If you sell online, make it obvious from the front page. If you have a brick and mortar, please come out and say so. It is okay to be obvious. Artfully obvious, of course. You can assume some visitors to your site are flying in from the farthest reaches of the world wide web, knowing absolutely zero information about you and your business.

Tell us how to contact you.

If you want to be contacted by phone, please say so. If you want to be contacted by email, same. Either way, you have to be somewhat available, AND get back to people in a reasonable amount of time. One or two business days is usually fine.

Next, make sure your phone number and/or email is listed in more than one place. Put it on every page, if you need to. Don’t make people search or scroll. This blog post will have my email, hello@kelleygardiner.com, at the bottom. I only have my phone number on my contact page because I rarely pick up my phone unless I have a scheduled call.

See? I’m trying to make it easy for you to contact me in the way I prefer to be contacted. hello@kelleygardiner.com

Make your physical address obvious.

This one is dedicated to Portland, Maine. I’ve been burned one too many times.

Make it easy for anyone scanning your information to get this info. Put it in your social media profiles, too. Please. Location matters.

Your address (AND PHONE NUMBER, for the love) should be text that can be copied and pasted. Not an image. You have my permission to ask your designers to change this. Depending on other people to type your phone number correctly is a dangerous business. I like to leave my dangerous liaisons for leisure, not business.

Related: read up on how to make your business show up in local searches.

You don’t need to be fancy.

If you own a graphic or web design company, fancy can be good. Show off those skillz. (You know that already though, because you’re an expert in web design. Sweet.) For the rest of us? There might be some creative fields where a Flash introduction is super appropriate, but in general, let’s not. Keep it simple, readable, and fast to load.

But please join us in the 21st century.

If your site hasn’t been updated in ten years… we can tell, and it doesn’t make the most impressive of first impressions. Make sure the content is updated as well as the design.

Get mobile friendly.

More and more customers are using mobile devices to search for and find information. Your site should load quickly, look good, and be easy to navigate. Remember, those phone numbers in an image are a total killer on mobile. Not in a good way. Your customers expect that they’ll be able to click to call.

Make sure we know what the heck you do.

What the heck do you do? “Create opportunities for small businesses to increase their conversions.” Okay. But what the heck do you DO? “Handmade lovely adornments for your life and living.” Come again? What in the loving heck would that look like on a shelf?

A quick read  should tell the prospect what it is that you do. Exactly. What services you perform, what you sell, and how the reader can obtain said goods or services. Ideally, this will cut down on messaging from peeps who are not your core customer, as well as boost your SEO.

Additional reading: What the Heck Is SEO?

Answer your dang email. 

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve emailed a business with a request to reply within two or three business days and… crickets. This is not good, people! Either they don’t want free advertising, or are too disorganized to get back to people in a timely manner. Get your email in order.


Ready for Contact

It’s not just me, either. Jenni Bost from Portland Bloggers and A Well-Crafted Party has the same kinds of beefs when looking for local information: “The non-existent contact or hard-to-find contact info is the worst. Drives me batty… When a company doesn’t value the web it makes me wary of their staying power or ability to fulfill my consumer needs effectively.”

Mmmm hmm.

Hear that? You need content. If your content is thin or non-existent, email me today. We can even talk about getting a little local publicity.


Have you had any luck with earned media? What worked for you?



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