Madron's Marketing Secrets

7 Questions You MUST Ask Before Hiring any Freelance Copywriter

You’re considering hiring a freelance copywriter…but how do you know for sure if the writer will be someone who can make your investment pay off? 

After all – with the popularity of online copy courses today – anyone with a computer and an internet connection, it seems like, is billing himself as a “World-Class Freelance Copywriter.”

So here’s how you can separate the contenders from the pretenders…

Question #1 – Has the writer ever sat in your chair? 

The pressure involved with pulling together a winning promotional campaign – especially in our current economy – can be excruciating.  It has never been more important to have all elements of a marketing campaign come together on time…under budget…and still be a success.

So before hiring any freelance writer, you should ask: has this person ever sat in my chair?  Does the writer truly appreciate the importance of hitting our deadline – while still producing strong, results-oriented copy?

The “dirty little secret” of today’s new copywriters – and the explosion in home-study courses has created hundreds of them – is that they have very limited marketing experience.  And many of the world’s most highly-touted – and higher-priced – copywriters routinely miss deadlines.

As someone with experience as a marketer, publisher and business-builder…I’ve faced those same pressures you are facing right now.  I’ve had to make that painful phone call to a printer, publisher or designer – telling him that the project is on hold because the copywriter hasn’t delivered yet. 

It’s because I’ve experienced that pressure that I make hitting deadlines – and respecting the job you face as a marketer – such a high priority as a freelance copywriter.

Question #2 – What do the writer’s clients have to say about him? 

Be careful – it’s important that you aren’t satisfied with simply reading the testimonials on the writer’s site.

After all, who would ever post negative feedback on their own web site?  Instead, take a look at the names of the marketers and companies the writer has worked with.  Are these companies successful?  Do they have a reputation for doing things “the right way”? 

And – more importantly – take a few minutes to make some phone calls…and find out for yourself if that “blockbuster control” the writer bragged about was really nothing more than a breakeven proposition.

Question #3 – Does the writer pass the “sniff” test? 

In most cases, you’ll want to have a telephone conversation with the writer before agreeing to a project assignment. 

When you have this conversation with the writer, be sure to talk not just about your own company or the potential assignment…but about the industry as a whole. 

Does she seem to have a good grasp of the market?  Does the experience level touted on the writer’s site – or in his printed promotion materials – match up with the answers you’re getting back from the writer? 

And – most importantly – does the writer’s personality seem like it would be a match?  Think ahead to the revision stage of the project.  Can you imagine the writer inserting his ego into the process too much? Or does he seem likely to be the type to engage in a free exchange of ideas and open to the ideas of the client?

Question #4 – About that phone call – did the writer actually listen to you? 

Did the writer actually take time to listen to what you were saying?  Or did the writer just take the opportunity to give you the same “elevator speech” they’ve given to dozens of prospects?

Be sure to talk about your business at the beginning of the conversation – and then near the end of the conversation, ask the writer a question that refers back to what you said earlier.  If the writer’s answer shows you he listened to what you were saying – you may have a winner.

On the other hand, if it’s obvious that the writer was more focused on selling himself than paying attention to your specific business needs…then you should hang up and look elsewhere for a better match.

Question #5 – What about those writing samples?

Any marketer can quickly glance at a handful of writing samples.  But – much like with testimonials – you should remember that these samples have been carefully selected to show you only what the writer wants you to see.

So be sure to examine the samples – but don’t just stop there.

After you read them, take a few notes and then ask the writer which were the best performers…and which he had the most trouble with.  Ask the writer which of his samples took the longest to write and why…or which one had the most client revisions.  These questions will give you some insight into how the writer approaches each assignment and what his opinion of the revision process really is.

Treat it like a job interview – ask questions that will get the writer outside of his comfort zone and force him to show you more about his style than just a few impressive sample promotions.

Question #6 – Does the price quoted seem to match the level of experience?

This idea can work a number of ways.  First of all…marketers should be very wary of the “overhyped” superstar who charges exorbitant rates PLUS high royalties. 

Sure – the top writers in the business today are usually worth an extraordinary investment – but just because the superstars can command astoundingly high fees and royalties…that doesn’t mean such an investment is right for your situation.  Be sure to ask yourself: am I comfortable paying the writer’s quoted up-front fee…and will the fee or royalty stand in the way of my ability to aggressively mail this promotion?

By the same token, you should also be cautious of “green” writers who think nothing of asking for fees more than double what they should be earning based on their experience level.  Every one of these inexperienced writers has read some study that reveals what the best writers in the business are charging.  Most of these new writers started salivating immediately upon seeing the numbers…and then decided to raise their rates – regardless of their track record or experience level.

Remember – you’re the one calling the shots here…if the writer isn’t a match for your budget or doesn’t have the level of experience to justify his price, then it’s not worth your trouble.

Question #7 – Who Will Actually Write Your Promotion?

This is one I feel very strongly about.

There are a number of high-priced copywriters in the business today who are pulling the wool over their clients’ eyes.

Here’s what I mean: Ask the writer if he can assure you that the work will be his own…and not the work of a “junior” writer he has farmed the project out to.  As a marketer, when I paid a copywriter to write a promotion, I expected to get the work of the writer himself…not the work of someone just out of college who is still learning the business.

Sure, in most cases, the high-priced writer will review his assistant’s work and “punch it up” a bit.  But that’s not the same as the writer doing the work himself.  After all, if you paid top-dollar for a front-row seat at a Bruce Springsteen concert, you wouldn’t be happy if Bruce simply sat offstage in a rocking chair while a cheap “tribute band” played The Boss’s songs, would you?

I write all of the copy myself, as I feel strongly that any client who pays for my services should receive my work, and not the work of an underling. 

I can tell you that on many occasions I’ve been asked to overhaul a promotion that was purportedly written by a “top-tier” copywriter…but upon close inspection, it was obvious that the work had been handed over to a “rookie” – without the client’s permission.  That will never happen when you work with me.

Bonus Question: Is there any fine print? 

Are there extra fees for multiple revisions?  If so…ask for an explanation.  If the explanation doesn’t make sense – or if it sounds like someone trying to block you from making revisions – walk away.

Bonus Question: Did the writer meet his first deadline?

Did the writer call at the time he said he would?  If he promised to send samples, did he send them promptly or did you have to wait a few days?  These are all clues about his respect for professional deadlines…and any red flags here will help you steer clear of a potential disaster waiting to happen.

About Jody Madron

When you work with Jody Madron on your next copywriting project, you’re not just getting an experienced, multi-million dollar copywriter with a history of success in the financial newsletter, investor relations and nutritional supplement fields…

You’re also getting a proven business builder who has helped his clients launch more than a dozen successful new ventures in the past eight years alone…

You’re also getting an experienced marketer who was mentored by some of the legends of the marketing and publishing fields – including “Hall of Famers” like Bill Bonner, Michael Masterson and Jay Abraham…

Most importantly – you’re getting someone who understands the challenges you’re facing as a marketer, publisher or entrepreneur.

That’s because for the first nine years of my career, I sat on your side of the desk as a marketer and publisher.  I know what it’s like to search frantically for new ideas…capable copywriters…and successful promotions.  I understand the pressure you’re facing every day to make every last marketing dollar count.

It’s that combination of experience and success that makes partnering with Jody Madron such a winning proposition for so many marketers and entrepreneurs.

Call me today at 410-795-0946 to discuss putting that experience to work for you – right away – with your next promotion!  Or visit me on the web at www.madronmarketing.com.