A web designer recently asked a question in “Advertising Copywriting” and “Copywriter’s Beat,” two very popular copywriting linkedin groups. He quickly received a large number of answers. The question was: ”How can you tell you have either a good copywriter or a bad one?”
I combed through all the answers in each group and pulled together a list of my 10 favorite responses. I believe this will be quite helpful to new freelance copywriters as you develop your portfolios and your copywriting skills.
1-”A track record of delighted customers who are happy to recommend the writer to you.”
2-”Are they reaching your target audience? It’s good to keep in mind that your internal people/colleagues may be good at evaluating the copy from the ‘representation of the business’ perspective, but not necessarily from the customer perspective. A good copywriter will be able to balance that delicate line. Also, response to feedback and if you don’t understand something, they should be able explain in a non-defensive manner. As with any subject, you’ll get what you pay for, as well!”
3- •”Talk to them about your target market to see if they understand it.
•Evaluate their work in the medium you want to use. There are slightly different writing requirements for print and social media, for example.
•Take up references, preferably in a similar industry.
• If you like what you have seen so far agree on a small, paid assignment. When you brief them, if they are any good, they will ask lots of questions about things like your target audience, the messages you want to put out, the offers you have, the style that’s most appropriate, the word count etc. Personally I put a lot of work in at this stage to make sure I really understand what is required
• Evaluate the copy you get back. If the copywriter is good I would suggest it should be at least 80% what you are looking for. Your time is valuable. You want to be able to brief the writer and let them get on with it, rather than getting involved in orchestrating lots of rewrites.”
4-”Everything you need to know about a copywriter will be evident by their portfolio. If their work is good. They’ll be good. And vice versa.”
5-”A good copy writer is first of all a good listener.”
6-”I, personally, think empathy towards clients and consumers is one of the most important prerequisites for a strong copywriter, and it makes them genuinely curious about the world around them. Conceptually, this should help your creative tailor specific messages for specific audiences. I would go through their portfolio and then decide whether or not you actually like their work. Is the messaging effective? Last, I’d look at their styling.”
7-”I think every communication you have with a copywriter tells you about him or her. Are they clear, concise and thoughtful in their email messages, for example? Or are there misspellings, improper punctuation, wrong tense, etc? If it’s there, that’s going to tell you something about the product they’ll deliver for you. I have samples of many different types of projects on my website, covering everything from trade show presentation scripts to press releases. But I also like to remind my clients that EVERYTHING on my website (with the exception of clients’ testimonials) is my writing. I want them to see not only how I sell for my clients, but how I sell myself, as well. In short, a good writer is a good writer. You don’t turn in on and off. You do it in everything you do, or you just don’t do it well enough.”
8-”Read things the copywriter wrote. Did you get to the last line? Did you want more? You found a good copywriter. I speak to this on my homepage at www.feldmancreative.com and offer what I feel is an insightful paper on the subject. ‘Find the Right Copywriter.’ ”
9-”Good copywriters can sell themselves first, sell you second, and sell your product third.”
10-”I would say, no such thing as a stupid question, if a copywriter is asking, then they are trying to fully understand your brief and needs, and may just raise things that you haven’t though of or realised.”
There are just so many wonderful and valuable reasons to be a part of linkedin. It’s not simply a social media site to use when you are out of work. This list is just a tiny representation of the plethora of helpful information linkedin has for new and veteran copywriters. Register, join groups and join the conversations!