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When to Hire a Copywriter and How to Work With One

When to Hire a Copywriter and How to Work With One

By Rieva Lesonsky, Guest Blogger
Published: July 5, 2016 Updated: July 5, 2016

Does your small business need a copywriter? Many small business owners try to save money by writing copy for their marketing materials, websites and ads themselves. However, unless you have experience in marketing copywriting, this generally isn’t a good idea.

Here are some reasons you might need a copywriter:

You’re investing in an advertising campaign. If you're planning to spend money developing and placing ads, you should make sure your ads are expertly designed to work.

You want to refresh your business brand. If you're giving your brand a new look and feel, now is a good time to bring in a copywriter for professional help.

Your existing marketing isn’t working. Maybe your website isn't generating enough traffic. Maybe it’s attracting visitors, but they aren't taking the actions you want them to such as browsing your products, placing orders or making appointments. Perhaps you’ve been using the same brochures, mailers or print ads for years, and they’re no longer generating results like they did previously.

What to look for

Start by asking around — other small business owners, people in your professional network and advisers such as SCORE mentors should be able to suggest some local copywriters or online resources.  

Look for relevant experience. It's best to work with a copywriter who has previous experience working with small businesses and, ideally, working in your industry as well. Such a person will be up-to-date on marketing tactics that work for businesses similar to yours. You should also check references carefully and ask about the results of any marketing copywriting that was done (for instance, did website traffic increase after the copywriter rewrote the copy?).

Ask about specialization. Different copywriters have different specialties. For example, some copywriters specialize in B2B clients, others in B2C customers. Some focus on writing website or online advertising copy (an art in itself that requires an understanding of search engine optimization), others on print marketing materials. A copywriter who tries to do it all may not do anything very well.

Visit their websites and see what you think. These days, every copywriter should have a website featuring portfolios of his or her work. In addition to viewing work the copywriter has done for others, you should also assess whether the website does a good job of selling you on the copywriter's abilities. You don't want to hire someone who can’t even “sell” themselves, do you?

How to work with a copywriter

Know what you want to achieve. You need to know not only the specific project you want them to work on, but also the results you want to get. For example, do you want visitors to your website to call your business, fill out an online contact form, or make a purchase? If the copywriter doesn't know what you are trying to accomplish, he or she will struggle to help you accomplish it. The more specific you can be about your goals, the better your chances of a successful project.

Clarify the scope of work. Misunderstandings often arise when working with writers if neither side is clear about the scope of work. A good copywriter will create a detailed contract specifying things such as the number of revisions, cost of each element of the work, timeframe/deadlines, and what happens if you are not satisfied with the work after revisions. You should also clarify how the copywriter will be paid — per project, by the hour or by the word. Each copywriter will have his or her own preferred cost structure.

Be able to explain your business brand. In order to get the best results from a copywriter, you need to be able to convey what makes your business brand so special. If you can't explain the essence of your business to the copywriter, he or she won't be able to convey it to prospects.

Put someone in charge. It might be you, it might be your marketing person, but your copywriter needs one point of contact to work with in order to avoid confusion. This also eliminates the situation where five different people at your business send a copywriter different feedback about the work. Having one person gather all the feedback and synthesize it will mean the copywriter spends less time on your project — saving you money.

Be willing to pay for quality work. Yes, there are websites where you can find people willing to write copy for five dollars — but you get what you pay for. A skilled, experienced copywriter who gets results is worth the cost. By clarifying the scope of work, setting clear expectations at the beginning and providing detailed feedback, you'll get the best from your copywriter while still keeping your costs reasonable. 

About the Author:

Rieva Lesonsky
Rieva Lesonsky

Guest Blogger

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and President of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Follow Rieva at and visit to sign up for her free TrendCast reports. She's been covering small business and entrepreneurial issues for more than 30 years, is the author of several books about entrepreneurship and was the editorial director of Entrepreneur magazine for over two decades