Hiring a copywriter? Do these 7 things first

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“Copywriting is too hard. I don’t have time to do my own copy or content writing. I’m just going to hire a pro copywriter to do it for me.”


It can be too easy to think that you can simply hire it out.

I mean hiring someone to walk your dog or deliver your groceries is straightforward. You know exactly what you're going to get. A dog with an empty bladder and a fridge stocked with kale and champagne.

When it comes to copywriting, unfortunately, some business owners think that a copywriter can wave a magic pen and give you some magical copy that you’ll plug into your website, smack it up there and then sit back and watch the dollars roll in.

And yes — copywriting IS important.

Many of the designers and web developers I work with agree that if you have an exceptional design and shitty copy, your message will fall flatter than gluten-free bread.

Unless you have a fruit logo behind you-you're going to have to communicate what you do clearly and in your people's words.

If you can work on both design and copy at the same time, your writer and your designer will thank you. And most of these experts can recommend other experts too.

If you have the budget for either design or copy, choose strong copy first, and then when you’re raking in the doughnuts, hire a great designer.

Compelling copy will help you sell more and communicate your message to the right people.

It also won't fix a failing business, patch a bad business model, or replace the work of knowing who you are and what you do.

If you’re thinking of hiring a writer, fabulous! A great copywriter can help you get clear on who you’re communicating to and help you take your voice and make it better.

Before you reach out to hire a writer, do these 7 things first:

1. Know your client’s voice.

A great copywriter doesn’t just write in your voice. That’s what a ghostwriter is for. A great copywriter will write in your client or customer’s voice. While you might think a copywriter nailing YOUR voice is essential, it’s not your voice that connects and converts with your readers. It’s all about understanding your client words.

Unfussy Action Step: Make a list of all the words and phrases your clients use.

2. Understand what your client wants and needs.

And keep in mind that this is what THEY think they need. You’re the expert and you probably know what they need after 30 seconds. They’re not ready to hear your opinion yet — that’s why they’ll hire you or buy your product. The message they need to hear on your website and in your social media copy is that you understand how they’re feeling right now, in the moment when they’re looking for help.

Unfussy Action Step: Document what your prospects say they want before they hire you. Describe how they describe their problem in their words. What do they say they want before they know what they need? What do they think they need most?

3. What keeps your prospect up at night.

It’s 3:33 am, and they’re staring at the ceiling. What’s running through their minds? What’s missing? What’s prompting them to have a third glass of wine on a Monday night?

Unfussy Action Step: Write down the thoughts that steamroll through their mind. This might not be the problem your product or service solves directly. Understanding where they’re coming from and what the worry behind their worry is.

4. How you want to come across.

What kind of voice and tone do your clients trust most and what feels most natural to you and your brand? Someone funny and lighthearted? Someone who uses f-bombs freely and tells it like it is? Your voice may depend on your industry and how much you can stand out in your industry.

Unfussy Action Step: Save a few links to websites where you like the tone AND think it will be well-received by your audience.

5. What makes you so special.

I mean this in the kindest possible way. Why should prospects listen to you? What gives you the knowledge, street cred, experience, and chops to have the right to take their money? Know what makes you different.

Unfussy Action Step: Write out all the things that make you amazing. List your accomplishments, awards, credentials, and the results you deliver.

6. What you wish was different about your industry.

Explore how your competitors or others in your industry behave. Does anything about the way they show up irritate you? What makes your blood boil from others who are in the same arena as you? This is quality fuel for clarifying why you’re different.

Unfussy Action Step: Make a wish list of all the things you’d love to change about your industry if you could wave a magic pencil.

7. Write your website copy.

You might be wondering, well, duh — what the hell am I hiring a copywriter for? That’s what the writer will do for me. At the very least, write a sales page for your offer copy, your unfussy pitch, or your about page. It doesn’t have to be prolific, but it does need to exist. This serves a few key purposes. You’ll have actually tried to do the writing yourself — and when you learn how to write clear copy, you can better communicate to a copywriter what you want.

Unfussy Action Step: Write three pages of your website copy in this order — a sales page, your about page, and your home page (read this article for why I recommend this order).

And if writing your own website copy gives you the dry heaves, you’ll appreciate a copywriter that much more. Chances are, your writing is pretty good. A great copywriter will be able to pull out the key pieces that are strong and make them even stronger and can move around and play with the parts that need some work.

If you’ve done all these and are ready to take a magic gel roller pen to your words, then find out how we can work together here. If you’re a good writer and want to become a great writer, Write Like a MOFO might be for you.

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