Five questions to ask before you hire a copywriter

Content is king, the saying goes. And with a digital presence being obligatory for just about every business from global banks down to the corner store, business owners are having to grapple more frequently with how to engage their audiences in writing… and how to get their brand story to stand out in crowded and noisy marketplace. 

For many businesspeople, though, writing is just not their thing. Whether it’s not your skillset or you’d just rather focus on your core business, it often makes sense to outsource. But where do you even begin? Somewhere like Upwork or Fiverr where writers are a dime a dozen, or do you hire a big agency and trust that a bigger fee means better quality work?

Like most things, we believe the truth is somewhere in the middle. Wherever you choose to find your writing talent, though, it’s important to know what to look for, so you get crown-worthy content and bang for whatever bucks you’re choosing to spend.

So with that in mind, here are five questions you should ask to help you find, and work with, a top-shelf copywriter (also known as a content producer).

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Do they understand my business?

The best copywriters will have done more in life than just write. Ask to see their CV, and ask lots of questions to see if they truly understand not just this brief, but your overall business strategy. The content they produce should help your audience connect with your brand as a whole, as well as the particular objectives of the brief.

Can they write in a variety of styles?

Every business is different, and that means having a distinct voice. The content on a law firm’s website will differ markedly from that of the artisan barista next door. Ask to see samples of potential copywriters’ work (their portfolio) to get a sense of whether they can adapt their style to your brand voice.

If you’re a new business, or new to marketing, and you haven’t defined your voice yet, a good writer should be able to work with you to develop one.

Are they a natural storyteller?

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The human brain is hardwired to connect with and remember stories. It's why storytelling is the most effective way to get your brand to resonate with your audience. So when you’re checking out your candidates’ portfolios, look for the ones where you naturally want to read past the first paragraph. This is the sign of a good storyteller; you want your audience to engage emotionally with your story, so make sure your writer will be good at telling (and selling) it. 

Do they have good attention to detail?

Boring but important. A misplaced apostrophe can disrupt the flow of an entire paragraph, which means the all-important message won’t sink in. At worst, poorly crafted content can cause readers to lose confidence in your brand: if your content is sloppy, you seem sloppy. 

Make sure your writer has a good grasp of grammar, and checks their work thoroughly. A good way to tell is to copy their content into your own word processing software and see if any errors show up. 

Do I like them?

It might seem trivial, but a close relationship with your writer is the best way to produce content that really works. You want to make sure you can provide your copywriter with honest feedback that they'll take on board without a fuss. And most importantly, if they understand you, they’ll understand the brief and your business. 

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Here at AlphaJuliet, we love telling our clients’ stories. We’ve produced content for everything from luxury magazines to global IT conferences. Ask us how we can help you share your story.