Finding the right copywriter for your business can feel overwhelming for even the most seasoned business owner. If you haven’t worked with freelancers or copywriters before, you might wonder where to get started and how to go about finding and hiring the right copywriter for your website.
I was once where you’re sitting. I was tasked with hiring a data scientist to tackle a large project we were working through, and I had zero clues where to start. The project was high visibility, high stress, and we didn’t totally know what we needed to make it a success (after all, no one in my marketing-heavy office was a data expert, or else why would we need to hire someone in the first place?).
So, I googled it. I found my way to Upwork and posted a job. I rifled through (no exaggeration) 100 proposals, interviewed 5 people, and eventually found someone. But that was just the start of the work involved! It took us hours of communication to outline and clarify the work. And then some trial and error while she adjusted my (poor) instructions to the actual work involved.
Although we didn’t know how to ask for it, she ended up doing an amazing job and delivered exactly what we needed. But by the end of the project, I’d sunk the better part of my month doing what felt like a lot of stressful busywork.
Looking back, I see that she and I both could have improved our time together to be more efficient and clear. I hope this guide is a vehicle to do just that for you. So you can skip the queue and the pain of going it alone, and get the right support…at the right time for your business.
Don’t be like me. Learn from the mistakes I made hiring a freelancer and use this guide as your go-to resource to find, hire, and manage your website copywriting project like a pro.
A website copywriter is someone who specializes in writing your website copy, typically the core pages of your site: the homepage, about, services, and contact pages.
But there are some misnomers out there, so let’s chat through them, shall we?
First, it’s good to understand the difference between a content writer and a conversion copywriter, because the lines can get blurry:
While the difference between the two may feel subtle, it’s an important distinction.
A website copywriter is a type of conversion copywriter who may also write other things. They’re skilled in conversion best practices and can help you optimize your sales funnel, your lead magnet, and your conversion goals.
But they may also write other types of copy, like landing pages, lead magnets, or email sequences. They might focus on one vertical or niche–like SaaS, personal wellness, or copywriting for coaches–or they might write website copy as a specialization.
There are a lot of types and approaches to website copywriting out there, so it’s good to know upfront what skill sets will be most helpful for your business.
If you’ve been on the fence about hiring out the copywriting for your website, here are 10 signs that it’s worth considering.
If you’re seeing steady traffic to your site but not a lot of leads or sales, that usually means there’s some kind of messaging mismatch happening between your visitors and what you’re asking them to do (your sales funnel). At the very least, your website will benefit from a conversion audit to determine where buyers are falling off and how to optimize and clarify your messaging.
Right about now you’re probably thinking something like “Didn’t you just say that website copywriters worry about conversion and not SEO?!” Bear with me here. Many web copywriters are also well-versed in organic optimization, and if your site isn’t getting new traffic–or your traffic is falling–it’s possible you need some SEO TLC. This is especially true if you’ve ticked all the boxes on content marketing and still aren’t seeing results. Most website copywriters can fine-tune your top-of funnel strategy to get you back on track.
If you’re updating your site design or changing your brand, you’ll need similar upgrades to your copy. Why? Because there’s a good chance your messaging is misaligned with your new brand tenets, customer focus, and new design. You need to make sure your copy supports your new site goals and facilitates conversion that’s aligned with the other changes you’ve made.
What’s the goal of your site? For a brick and mortar business who sees the bulk of sales in person, a website can be a simple tool to drive customers into the store. But for online businesses, your website needs to work a whole heck of a lot harder than that. Users need to engage with your brand and your content before making a purchase. It’s your job to make that experience as seamless as possible, through thoughtful & well-placed content, a lead magnet, and a clear path to purchase at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
Is there lingo on your website that you picked up in graduate school? Are most of your customers newly aware of your product or service? If so, it’s important to translate what you do and the benefits of your service clearly and in terms your customer will both ‘get’ and connect with. Which means no jargon, acronyms, or industry speak allowed.
You describe your business one way, your social media intern has her voice on Instagram, and your sales team has a completely different way of talking to customers. If you have these kinds of messaging inconsistencies, your prospects will look to your website to solve them. It’s super important to present your business clearly and consistently to allay anxieties or concerns your prospects are feeling from the brand cues they’re picking up across your various marketing channels.
You’re mostly there but you have a sense your messaging is, well, boring, cliche, or unclear. One gift of a talented website copywriter is to polish and punch up your CTAs, headlines, and copy so it’s memorable and engaging.
Here’s a reality you already know as an entrepreneur. We all have our talents, and none of us is great at everything. I learned this lesson the hard way after spending months (yes, months) trying to design my own site only to realize that, well, I have no future as a designer.
Having a website that looks and feels professional is a real concern. In today’s online landscape, having a clear, trustworthy, and secure site is table-stakes for doing business. If you’re not able to do that on your own or with your internal team, it’s time to turn to a professional to do it for you.
One of the best lessons I’ve learned as an entrepreneur is when to stay in your zone of genius and let go of work that isn’t fulfilling or profit-driving for you. If you’re trying to write your own website words out of a sense of grit and determination, well, I applaud you. But if what you’re really doing is feeling stuck and discouraged, it’s probably a sign that this is an area of your business that’s not serving your growth. Kind of like me trying to keep my own books (#Englishmajor).
Finally, a fresh perspective can be a game-changer for an organization or personal brand. Sometimes, we really are too close to our offerings, our mission, and the passion we have for our work, and that can cloud our judgment. There’s nothing like an outside set of eyes to help you tighten up and shape the areas of your website you’re too close to.
Similarly, if any of these resonate with you, you’re not ready to hire out this work yet:
Every copywriter has their own process, but at a minimum, our job is to generate the right messaging for your customers and position your offerings on every page to maximize your conversion goals.
Here’s what my process looks like for a website copy project:
At this stage, it’s important to learn as much as possible about your brand, your messaging, your voice, and your goals. This helps me write in your voice and put myself in your shoes to describe your offers and differentiators as well as you do.
By far the most important step in the website copywriting process is learning as much as possible about your ideal customer. As a copywriter, it’s my job to present your best offer at the right time and with the words and phrases that will most resonate with the people you want to reach. I do this through extensive mining of customer data, like interviews, surveys, call logs, customer service complaints, reviews, and any other existing ‘data’ from your customers.
If you have a website already, it’s important to know what’s going well…and not going well. I look extensively at analytics at the site and page level to understand where visitors are dropping off to better optimize your sales funnel.
I’ve become an expert on your business, your current site, your vertical and differentiators, and your customers. Now it’s time to put the pieces together to create the best game plan for your website copy.
Finally! Time to write. With all of this information and data under my belt, the writing is easier than you might think. I write drafts in Google docs and include notes around rationale, the buyer’s journey, and when I’ve pulled an objection or pain point directly from our customer data (because the last thing I want to do is guess at what’s best for your site). I then transfer that draft into wireframe form so you can imagine it on the page. Here’s an example of what that looks like from a past project.
Now we’re into the nitty-gritty and I lean on my clients to provide meaningful feedback while we work together to tweak the copy. I make tweaks for voice, to clarify, or to make sure your business lingo is just right.
Once it’s reviewed and polished, I hand it off to the client. But we’re not quite done! We connect after your project to answer the big questions…did it work? Are visitors responding like we thought? Is something amiss, not quite right, or otherwise holding us back from that initial goal you had?
There’s no perfect place to look for a qualified website copywriter. There are a lot of sub-specialties, skill sets, and levels of experience out there that you can see as good or bad depending on what you need. But here are some tips to help you along the way.
Spend some time on their blog. Get to know their writing style, approach, and areas of expertise.
You’ve found your right-fit website copywriter, and it’s time to get to work. Now what?
Knowing what to expect and when to expect it is crucial for keeping your project moving along and for getting the return on your investment.
At a minimum, make sure you know major deliverable dates, timing on any edits, meetings you may need to attend, and what’s required of you upfront. As a reference, I ask for a branding questionnaire, access to your Google Analytics, and recommendations for customer interviews and email surveys, plus 2-3 meetings throughout your project (typically 4-5 weeks).
Finally, be ready and willing to collaborate! Ask questions and be an equal partner in creating the best website copy possible for your business.
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