Knowing whether you hired a good copywriter is like evaluating the NFL draft.
You can speculate all you want immediately after your decision but you really don’t know until you have some time to evaluate their work.
While you can weed out the very unqualified or those that you just don’t like, it’s impossible to guarantee a way that you can select the under-priced budding superstar while eliminating the over-priced “big name” clearly past their prime.
There are, however, 10 signs that will let you know if you are on the right track in hiring a good copywriter.
1. You feel like you are being interviewed.
A good copywriter will ask you a lot of questions (and not just about when and how they get paid).
In order to learn about your business, goals for your project and your conversion process, your copywriter should be asking you a number of questions that often lead to more questions. You want a copywriter that is not only curious, but focused on the ultimate goal of your project.
2. You feel heard.
Listening skills are just as important as writing skills and curiosity.
You should feel like you have time to talk freely about your business and project. Peppering you with questions without listening is just trying to look smart. Make sure they are actually listening.
3. They can understand your business.
Although they might not currently, make sure your copywriter has the ability to understand your business.
Sometimes you will run into the aspiring playwright moonlighting as a copywriter. Some are more enamored with their writing than they are with your business.
Curiosity and listening are good initial signs. Ask them if they have any experience in your industry. Do they have a business background? What is their process for learning about your business?
4. They tell you what you are doing right.
If you are talking about writing for the web, a confident copywriter can look at your current work and tell you what you are doing right.
Only pointing out mistakes or suggesting you are doing everything wrong is a sign of insecurity and self-interest. No matter how much work your site might need, you probably haven’t done everything wrong.
5. You aren’t embarrassed by their website.
You are about to establish a relationship that could make (or lose) you a lot of money.
Imagine a close friend or business mentor asking you for a referral to your great copywriter. Would you be embarrassed to provide the link to your copywriter’s website?
It doesn’t need to be as cool as Frank Chimero’s site, but you shouldn’t be hesitant to send a link. If your copywriter doesn’t care about their own site, how much will they care about your site?
6. They have actually sold something.
You are selling a product or service.
Your copy needs to sell said product or service.
Has your copywriter ever sold anything?
Formal sales experience might not be necessary but you should want someone that isn’t afraid of a call-to-action. They should understand the concept of a sales funnel and moving your prospect closer to becoming a customer.
This has nothing to do with being pushy, annoying or lacing your content with annoying yellow highlights. This has everything to do with figuring out what problems your company can solve for your customers.
7. They are interested in your story.
Your company has a unique story.
This is different than your unique selling proposition or your marketing goals. A good copywriter will take an interest in how your company came into being and get you beyond yes/no questions into storytelling mode.
Once you begin to tell your story, the truly important aspects of your business become obvious. Feelings emerge, connections are made and the ability to connect with your true audience is discovered.
8. Their fees aren’t the lowest in town.
There is nothing scientific about this pricing proposition.
Generally speaking, you never want the cheapest anything, particularly when it comes to business. More specifically, why in the world would you want to base the representation of your company and effectiveness of your website on the cheapest person available?
If you don’t have a better criteria than lowest price, read this post again.
9. They don’t like to be the grammar police.
Grammar is not the most important aspect of copywriting. In fact, some very successful copywriters intentionally use poor grammar to convey a certain feeling in their writing.
I’m not suggesting that poor grammar is the sign of a good copywriter. However, if you end up in a lengthy conversation about the proper use of the word infer that almost puts you to sleep, that is a bad sign.
The writer is likely enamored with their own writing and grammatical superiority and will most definitely have the same sleep-inducing effect (or is it affect?) on your readers. Grammar ain’t everything and nobody likes the grammar police.
10. They want you to A/B test your copy.
If your copywriter asks you to A/B test your copy, they have your best interest in mind. – Click to Tweet
A/B testing will let the data determine the best choice for a call-to-action, headline or other testable element. You want a copywriter that understands the value of A/B testing and has the humility to accept the results.
You also want someone that understands that you can’t be sure of the right choice until you test. Arrogance says “I’ve got this nailed the first time”. Humility says “Here are a few options. Let’s test and see which one works best”.
Use these 10 signs as a framework for hiring your next copywriter and add any others that have worked for you in the past. In fact, let us know your favorite sign in the comments.