When to hire a writer for your business – and what to expect.

Thinking of hiring a copywriter for your business? Wise move. They’ll know the words you need to connect with your ideal customers, and will help you make a fabulous first impression with your website, brochure or email.

Say goodbye to writer’s block, and hours spent agonising over your computer screen. And say hello to super-sharable content that gets your customers clicking (and whipping out their credit cards).

Sound too good to be true? Well, there’s a catch. They can’t work their magic unless you’re ready to receive it.

Still think you’re ready to hire a copywriter? Then read on.

If your business was a person, who would it be?

Would your business be Beethoven or Justin Bieber? Oprah Winfrey or Angelina? Gordon Ramsay or Martha Stewart? I could go on.

Knowing your business is about more than being able to rattle off the goods and services you sell. It’s about understanding your brand identity—inside and out.

Before you even consider hiring a copywriter, you should be crystal clear on:

  • What you do
  • Who you do it for
  • When you do it
  • Why you do it
  • How you do it better

Understanding your business may sound like a no-brainer. But you’d be surprised how many business owners don’t take the time to define their brand.

Let’s say you sell air conditioners. That’s cool (no pun intended), but why should I buy one from you instead of the guy down the street?

What do you do differently?

Maybe you’ve got the most affordable air conditioners, the biggest range, or a money-back guarantee. Perhaps you promise to deliver on time, or offer a three-million-year guarantee. You might even stock a special type of air conditioner that’s endorsed by Beyonce and blows out purified air from the Himalayas.

It’s your copywriter’s job to create a ‘voice’ for your brand. But before they can do that, you need to know who your brand is. If you can’t answer the who, what, where, why, when and how of your business, you’re not ready to hire a copywriter.

If you’re talking to everyone, you’re talking to no-one

So, you’ve nutted out a clear identity for your business. But what about your ideal customer?

Who exactly are you trying to attract? Are they male or female? How old are they? What do they do? What did they have for breakfast? Who is their favourite Ninja Turtle? What are they wearing right now? Okay, getting creepy now. But you catch my drift.

The characteristics of your ideal customer will inform everything your copywriter does, from the tone of voice they use to specific terms and sayings.

If my ideal customer’s favourite Turtle is Michelangelo, I could totally have ‘Cowabunga!’ in my copy. But maybe not if they’re more of a straight-laced Leonardo type.

The more you know about the people you’re trying to attract, the better chance your copywriter will have of hitting the mark with your copy.

But if you don’t know exactly who you’re talking to, you’re not ready to hire a copywriter.

Tell me what you want, what you really, really want

Yes, it’s a lyric from a Spice Girls song, but it’s also the third commandment of copywriting law. When it comes to briefing a copywriter, more is more.

Copywriters are a talented bunch, but they’re not mind readers. There are a million ways to write great copy, and working out what that means to you is like trying to name the world’s best ice-cream flavour. It’s open to interpretation. (Unless there’s pistachio.)

Hiring a copywriter isn’t about handballing. Your copywriter becomes part of your team, but you’re still in the game. It’s about collaboration.

If you’re planning on getting a copywriter on board, be prepared to answer some in-depth questions about your business and your project. At a bare minimum, you should be able to answer questions like:

  • What are we creating?
  • How many words/pages?
  • How do you want your brand to be perceived?
  • What’s your marketing proposition?
  • What’s your budget?
  • When’s the deadline?

If you’re a business owner, and you can’t answer these questions, then you’re not ready to hire a copywriter.

(And if you’re a copywriter and you’re not asking these questions, check out the copywriting brief template in the Clever Copywriting School shop.)

Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy…

Hiring a copywriter (or any sort of creative) comes with an element of risk. No matter how much research you’ve done, or how much you love a particular writer’s work, there’s no guarantee you’ll be crazy about your final copy.

But you have to be willing to roll the dice.

In most cases, businesses hire a copywriter for one of three reasons:

  • Their current copy isn’t working for them
  • They don’t have any copy, and don’t know how to write it
  • They know how to write (or think they do), but don’t have the time/desire to do so

If you fall into one of the first two categories—your current copy sucks or you don’t have any—it’s a given that whatever your copywriter comes up with will be better than what you already have.

But if you fancy yourself as a good writer, who simply doesn’t have the time, prepare yourself for the simplicity of powerful copywriting. And brace yourself for a revelation: writing is not the same as copywriting.

Too many businesses try to bamboozle their readers with big words and buzzwords (thinking they sound impressive), and when their jargon-filled copy goes over their customers heads they hire a copywriter. But when they do, they’re often underwhelmed by the simplicity of the so-called ‘professional’ copy.

When you hire a copywriter, you need to keep an open mind. Trust that your copywriter knows the right words for your business, and be ready to embrace new ideas.

If you’re not ready to loosen the reigns, you’re not ready to hire a copywriter.

Timing is everything

A professional copywriter can be one of the most valuable people on your team. There are a million reasons why you should hire one, but none of them matter if you’re not ready.

Before you even begin looking for a copywriter, make sure you’re clear on what your business does, who you’re talking to, and what you want the copywriter to help you achieve.

Being prepared will not only give your copywriter the best chance of nailing the brief, but also ensure the whole experience is smooth, stress-free and enjoyable.

Over to you

If your business was a person, who it would be? I dare you to post your business personality in the comments below. For the record, mine would be a combination of Monica from Friends and Elaine Benes from Seinfeld, only with better hair – and better dance moves.

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About Alicia Kacar

Alicia Kacar is a copywriter, communications queen and chief word nerd at Type A Copywriting. With more than 15 years’ experience across marketing, PR and corporate comms, Alicia writes killer copy that’s full of personality. If you need words, Alicia’s your woman.

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