Sometimes you just know.
There was that feeling when you met. Simpatico.
The air was sizzling hot.
You could read each other’s minds. You’d finish each other’s sentences.
They could be the one.
Is it right – should you want them so much, this soon?
The next step seems inevitable.
It’s a BIG one to make
Will it last?
Fear is rising, you’ve been there before; jumped in and it’s ended badly.
Then you’ve retreated, curled up hugging your knees and slowly rocked yourself better.
What to do?
They just seem sooooo right for you….
How to hear the problem police before they come knocking
This tale of attraction, interest, desire and (hopeful) action is a common one when working with freelancers.
They seem and sound so perfect – good looks (portfolios), great chit-chat (spiel) and all the right moves.
Their offers of relieving your stress, lowering your workload and delivering the goods are music to your ears.
BUT…we’ve all been sucked into the wrong relationship before, and made a decision based on what seemed like all the right reasons at the time.
Copywriters come in all shapes, sizes and abilities.
Equally, there are many reasons that a freelance relationship can go wrong.
So how do you know for sure that you’re a match made in heaven?
Here are some of my tips on what a copywriter needs (apart from being able to write) to become your indispensable right hand:
1. Curious and questioning
- A good copywriter writes to tap into your audience’s emotions. To do that well they need to be someone who asks lots of questions.
- They should be asking past the facts and instead be asking about the WHY of things, to get to the underlying roots.
- They will transform your thoughts and goals into powerful words that get action (and reaction). But even more, they write to sell.
- Copywriters should have a natural curiosity – wanting to know how and why things tick – and that means they need to dig deep to uncover as many ‘great things’ as possible about you. These should then be woven into a story that shows your product, company or idea as the ideal solution for your customer’s pain point
2. Responsive and reliable
- They need to respond quickly to you, and MUST deliver the copy within (if not before) deadline.
- Your emails should be responded to promptly, calls returned and requests completed. Your time is valuable, and their customer service level should indicate their quality as much as their copywriting.
- Goes without saying they should always (no matter what else they have on) be polite and totally present when dealing with you. Distractions are excuses.
- You should feel you are their only client.
3. Ego left outside
- It must be all about your audience and customers. Not the copywriter’s ego and desire for self-aggrandisement.
- They need to be able to empathise with your customers, view things through their eyes and walk in their shoes. They need to be someone who wants to know your customers and their problems, hopes and desires.
- A copywriter must also accept when work is rejected, and not cloud the issue with their feelings and ego-based reactions. This also applies to when you, as the client, fails to do what you promised.
4. Respectful release
- This could equally be called nonattachment. It’s the conscious release of control over the outcome of their work. Rather than grasping and clinging to it, a copywriter needs to be respectful of the client’s wishes and final word on a piece.
- Of course nonattachment does not equate to non-caring.
5. Organised and accurate
- Taming their desk, diary and deadlines is a given. If they’re unable to organise and manage their own time, how can they be relied upon to deliver to deadline?
- Writing often requires an inordinate amount of organisation – keeping track of files, sources, background, interviews, names, dates and important facts – it’s not really an optional extra.
- If you can’t rely on them for their accuracy, you could end up with egg on your face and your reputation in shatters.
- Maintaining client timesheets, record keeping and detailed logs is another valuable asset. How else can you be sure that what you’re being billed is the time they took?
6. Calm and sincere
- Creative tantrums are unacceptable. It goes hand-in-hand with checking their ego at the door.
- Changes in direction, strategy and timings are part of the deal. Being able to gracefully handle those changes and still deliver on deadline and to the objective is vital.
- Your copywriter should be an extension of you, as well as a helpful guide. Their interest in your business, customer and needs should be driven from a sincerity that cannot be feigned.
7. Simpatico on values and ethics
- Don’t work with copywriters that contradict your values – both personal and business ones.
- Copywriting is selling. They should know and accept it, rather than be uncomfortable with it as the foundation of their writing. If they are, they’re in the wrong job.
8. Bends not breaks
- A copywriter should be flexible and supple. You are the client.
- They should be able to handle several different jobs at once.
- Within reason, they should be able to get to you on short notice to talk through your problem and offer a solution.
- They should have a can-do attitude and say yes, more often.
- Copywriters must be able to write about what they don’t know.
- They should be life-long learners who love to investigate and find out about new markets, products and services.
- To be an adaptive copywriter, they should be able to quickly get up to speed before they start writing – and be willing to: visit stores and competitors; ask or send for more information; research online; talk to customers, staff and suppliers; and read other materials and advertisements.
Copywriting isn’t like normal writing. To be effective, it’s a style of writing that isn’t driven by logic.
It’s driven by emotion.
Don’t let your emotions run away with you when working with your copywriter, or you could find yourself left nursing the ugly progeny of your project!
Note: Homage to Carol Tice’s brilliantly headlined post Are You Letting Sleazebag Freelance Clients Get You Pregnant? which inspired this post.
Image with thanks to otjep