Before You Hire a Copywriter, Read This First

Great copy produces sales. Not awards or compliments.

If you show your copy to someone, it’s not enough to have them say it’s “okay” or “good.”

You want them to say, “Wow! I want it! Sign me up!”

What I’m going to share with you may surprise or even annoy you. But after you’ve read what I’m about to say, I hope you’ll better understand the vital role copywriting holds regarding the success of your business.

A copywriter is your salesperson in print.

She is a connector. She initiates the relationship between your products and services, and your prospects — ultimately leading to the sale.

No matter how good you think your product or service is, it won’t sell itself, especially on the Internet. Simply describing your product’s features will not win sales.

You need a copywriter to demonstrate why your product or service is worth purchasing.


Let Me Explain Something About Copywriters

They’re maniacs.

They eat up information on salesmanship, copywriting, and marketing — and then do it again the next day. It’s an endless quest to acquire more knowledge and more expertise. They’re a combination of an anthropologist, a sociologist, a psychologist, a scientist, and a bartender (with a few beers guzzled along the way!). They are known to obsess over changing one word because they understand the huge difference it can make in the copy’s response.

They are masters when it comes to studying human behavior, especially the emotional triggers that will cause a prospect to buy.

This is why it’s a wise decision to outsource your copywriting. Why add more to your already full plate? It would only cost you more in time and lost profits to attempt to write highly effective copy yourself.

Could you hire a cheap copywriter? Sure. But you’re not going to get the results you want. A cheap copywriter will likely use your offer to test her copy and not really care about your business.

No copywriter can guarantee success, but the odds are in your favor if you hire a copywriter who knows their stuff. I’ll explain how you can recognize such a copywriter but first, I’d like to explain some truths about copywriters.

    • Copywriters are picky. I know that may annoy you, but here’s the reason: good copywriters simply won’t jump at the chance to write your copy because you waved a big wad of money in front of them. They want to know more about your product or service. They want to know if your offering has potential because they need to believe in it in order to sell it. Finally, they need to be interested in your industry.
    • Copywriters look for opportunities. Will your project give her a percentage of the profits? (Typically anywhere from 1% – 5%.) This can vary according to profit margins and the amount of work required.
    • Copywriters like big relationship. What I mean by “big” is that there are other projects available. Since she’s already familiar with your product or service, it makes sense to continue to use her instead of bringing in someone new and having to explain things all over again.

Friendly advice: Don’t pretend that money is not a concern because that’s usually not true. Copywriters understand budgets but they need firm numbers. Any copywriter who accepts such ambiguity will again, likely use your money to test her copy. Discount copywriters charge the least, but are a higher risk.

Expect to pay a copywriter 1/2 if not all of her fee up front and the rest just before delivery of the finished copy.

Copywriters are leery of a business person’s offer to “pay them later with the profits” because the project will supposedly bring in “an insane amount of sales.” In essence, the copywriter is working for free and unless they own a piece of the business, they’re unlikely to go for it.

Paying a copywriter up front shows her you’re serious about your business. And once she sees you’re that serious, believe me, she’s going to pour buckets of blood, sweat, and tears into your copy. She’s going to turn it into gold if it’s the last thing she does. A copywriter knows that such businesses are committed to success and will follow suit with her own intent.


A Very Important Point

The quickest way to hack off a copywriter is to pay her the money, allow her to pour buckets of blood, sweat, and tears into your copy, and then — change the copy before it goes to print.

You have no idea how this is seriously a very, very bad idea.

Remember when I said copywriters are maniacs?

They’re maniacs because they are completely obsessive about testing their copy. And if they’ve tested their copy and it shows that using a certain word or phrase delivers the best response — and you decide to eliminate that word or phrase, then guess what? You just tipped the scales against your business. Plus, you’ve ticked off your copywriter who now realizes you don’t respect her copy.

So don’t change anything.

If you do have a question about the copy, ask. Copywriters are generally helpful with their response but they also hope you trust them. After all, you did hire them to do a job and recognize they’re the wordcraft expert.

You can also help the copywriter by providing her with material such as: your past ads, research studies, books written on the topic, a competitor’s marketing. All this helps in creating the high-voltage copy that will ignite sales.

Once you develop a strong relationship with a copywriter, and once you’ve experienced the profits that result from her winning campaigns, you may run into some folks who wonder why you’re still sending checks to someone who did work for you over a year ago.

Don’t listen to them.

It’s tempting to think that once a copywriter writes a winning campaign for you, that’s all that is needed to keep your business humming along.


Any promotion is eventually going to die. Which means you’ll have to create another promotion or go after another market. Promotions are like thumbprints. No two are exactly alike. They must be customized precisely in order to reach the specific market you’re targeting.


I’ll Share a Secret

Word gets around.

If you try to shortchange a copywriter, it will get around. Copywriters connect with other copywriters. If they feel they’ve been mistreated by a client, they’ll let other copywriters know. So if you’re trying to hire a top copywriter and they’ve already been told that you tried to rip off another copywriter, they’ll simply be “too busy” to take on your business. They won’t tell you the real reason why, of course. But they definitely won’t be available for your projects.

Treat your copywriter with respect and you’ll reap the reward. Your copywriter will bend over backwards to make sure the copy will win sales because you made it clear that you respected her expertise and rewarded her with a portion of your profits. The copywriter understands that your success means her success. She’ll make sure that you’re doing what works.


Copywriting Is a Journey

Copywriters are always testing. If you have a question about the direction of a promotion, oftentimes the answer is to do a split A/B test. One group will get the promotion as you envision it, another group will get the copywriter’s choice. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. It will be evident which approach pulls the most responses.

Copywriters understand that at times the smallest changes make the biggest impact. It takes time to discover these changes.

A good copywriter takes the time to learn about your prospects and then develop the best way to communicate with them. She will get into the skin of your prospect, viewing the world as the prospect would, and then create copy that will truly resonate with them.

A good copywriter will speak the language of your prospects. She will know what your potential client needs to hear in order to buy what you’re selling.

You have to trust the copywriter in this process. Too often, businesses look at their customers and confuse them with the way they (the business owner) sees the  product or service.


Choosing the Right Copywriter

It’s a good idea to give a small project to a copywriter to see how well she does with it. Does she ask questions? Does he exhibit a strong curiosity about your product or service? How quick do they respond to your emails or phone calls? Can they meet a deadline?

Here are a few more traits. This is not a complete list, but a good start:

  • Understands the difference between benefits and features
  • Writes content that moves the reader to take the next step
  • Understands the power of a headline
  • Knows how to deliver your product or service differentiators to your intended target market
  • Understands that a website is not a static sales brochure and the importance of SEO and how to reduce bounce rate

Ask to view a copywriter’s portfolio. In addition to checking for obvious grammatical errors, observe if the copy “hooks” your attention and better yet, if it causes you to want to take action, such as learning more about the product or service, or ordering it.


You Are Not Your Customer

You are the producer and you have something to sell to a customer, but you need to understand your customer. This is what a copywriter does best.

Your copywriter will go on an expedition to discover everything they can about your potential customer. Those who are smart will seek out buyer personas and use them in their marketing strategies. Let your copywriter take the lead on this journey and it will pay dividends.

I hope you understand why copywriting is so important to your business and why hiring a copywriter can be the best business decision you’ve made. If you have an Internet-only business (with no “bricks and mortar” address), then hiring a copywriter is especially vital to your business’ success.

If you’re serious about hiring a copywriter, I’d like to help you. Contact me and we can discuss the details. It is in my best interest to educate business owners, stakeholders, start-ups, and entrepreneurs about the value of good copywriting and my hope is that it will be the beginning of a healthy, long-term relationship.


P.S. Beware of those who have a degree in advertising or marketing. Often they’re more concerned with the “design” of an ad campaign and try to be too clever for their own good. Most of the time, successful copywriting looks “uncool” to such people but will still outperform their clever ad by a country mile. You’d be better off hiring a psychology major. Seriously.