Finding a freelance copywriter who lives up to your expectations isn’t easy. At Contentoo, we sometimes hear from marketing managers who say ‘Outsourcing our content doesn’t work for us. We’ve tried using freelancers, but it just didn’t work out.’ We understand where they’re coming from. It is tricky to find the right freelance copywriter for the job. There are several reasons for this:
- Anyone can call themselves a freelance copywriter. This is not a protected professional title. And writing is kind of like singing: there are a lot of people who think they’re better at it than they really are. However, writing is a craft that (almost) anyone can learn to do right.
- There’s no real system in place for finding a copywriter that fits your organisation. Rating systems on online job exchanges are basically useless. Just because a writer works well with one company, doesn’t necessarily make them a match for yours.
- Evaluating whether a freelance copywriter fits with your company is a time-consuming job in itself.
In this article, we want to show you how outsourcing content creation can work for you, no matter what niche market you’re working in.
Tip #1: Choose a professional
Let’s start by separating the pros from the amateurs. Writing a text is no different than painting your house. You can ask the kid next door to help you do it for a tenner an hour, or you can hire a professional company to do the job. Chances are, your neighbour won’t do quite as good a job as the pros. (And if he does, then he really ought to raise his hourly rate.) Here are some clear signs to help you recognise if someone is a professional copywriter:
Their command of the language. A professional knows the rules of the language and follows them. Sounds like an open-and-shut case, right? Think again. At Contentoo, we regularly reject copywriters because we spot grammatical or spelling errors, sometimes even in the very first paragraph of their texts. This includes errors that the spell-checker in Microsoft Word might overlook. Examples include mistakes like these:
Mixing up common words, like ‘you’re’ and ‘your’
‘You think your in good hands with this copywriter’… (incorrect)
‘But actually, you’re not.’ (correct)
There may also be punctuation errors like these:
‘A little known secret is that hyphens matter.’ (incorrect)
That means: this is a ‘little secret’ that is also ‘known’. But what they mean to say is that hyphens matter, and that is a ‘little-known’ secret. (correct)
When used correctly, hyphens turn groups of words into compound adjectives used in front of a noun.
It may seem ‘nit-picky’, but if a writer doesn’t understand and use all the rules of the language consistently, then we don’t consider them a professional.
Readability: Professional copywriters know how to turn complex topics into easily readable texts. There’s no such thing as ‘too readable’. There are clearly defined rules that make some texts more readable than others. Avoid passive verb constructions. Use clear, everyday language. Keep sentences short.
Knowledge of the subject matter: Real professional writers live from their craft. That means they work full-time as writers. As a result, they gain a deep understanding of the topics they write about.
Price: If someone is willing to write a text for 7 or 10 cents a word, they are not a pro. There’s simply no way anyone can make a living at that rate.
To give you an example: it takes a copywriter about three hours on average to create a 500-word blog post (including research, interviews, etc.). Based on a word rate of 7 to 20 cents, they would be earning €35 to €50 for this. That’s around €10 to €17 an hour at best. Maybe a decent side job for a hobbyist, but hardly a living wage for a full-time professional writer.
Tip #2: Set your own definition of quality
It’s up to you to decide what ‘good-quality text’ means. What counts as a good text to one company may be completely off the mark for another. That’s why rating systems on job exchanges are not a useful guide when selecting freelancers. Your three-star rating may be a five-star performance to another marketing manager.
Start by decided what you really want out of your text. Make it specific. It’s more than just saying ‘it needs to be fun to read’. Really put some thought into it. It’s a good idea to collect a few texts that you like and focus on what it is that you like about them.
Another useful tip is to formulate your company’s own tone-of-voice document or create a style guide. Be sure to also describe your target groups in detail. After all, your tone of voice has to resonate fully with your target audience.
Tip #3: Onboard your freelancer as if they were an employee
When you hire a new employee, you onboard them to ‘show them the ropes’. The same should apply for freelancers. To get the best results, you need to make sure your freelancers understand your quality standards and your company before you email them that first briefing.
That also makes it important to have your background information ready beforehand. What kind of content do you want to create? What are the target groups like? What are your quality standards? Be sure to introduce your freelancer to your company’s mission, vision, values and goals. What is your overall content marketing strategy? What will you do with the content that the freelancer creates? What do you consider successful content?
Give your freelancer a few days to read up on these topics. Plan a call with them, so that you both have a chance to ask and answer questions. Then, you’re all set to send out the briefing for your project.
Tip #4: Think long-term
If a new employee makes one little mistake during their first month on the job, you don’t immediately show them the door. Give your freelance copywriters the same chance to prove themselves. It’s rare that you’ll find someone who consistently creates perfect text for you ‘right out of the blue’. It takes a little time to get things just right.
Working with freelancers is a smart business choice that requires full commitment from both sides. The longer you work with the same freelancer, the better they’ll understand your company. And that means the content they create for you will only get better with time.