5 Things to Watch Out for Before Hiring a Freelance Copywriter

These are the important things a freelance copywriter should have other than a shiny portfolio


Nick Chai

3 years ago | 8 min read

Hiring a freelance copywriter is a cheaper alternative than hiring a full-time copywriter if you do the math correctly. A full-time copywriter costs you thousands of dollars per month. Money is a limited resource, especially for small business owners.

Whether you’re experienced or new, you will learn something. These words come from a friend who paid a hefty price for ignoring these potential red flags. (Not going into the details for this article’s sake)

These are the 5 crucial things you should never ignore when it comes to hiring a freelance copywriter. I repeat, NEVER. Let’s get into them.

1. Skills

You can judge a copywriter’s skill, not through his or her beautifully designed portfolio, but through the words and sentences he or she wrote. At a single glance, you can tell the difference between a newbie and a professional. So, my advice to you is to familiarize yourself with the standards of world-class copywriting.

There’s a certain finesse world-class copywriters possess that newbies don’t. World-class copywriters know how to write in plain languages and persuade readers to buy the product or services subtly. Emphasis on the word subtly. Because no one likes to be sold to.

The ability to persuade and convey messages effectively are the two most important skills in copywriting. And you can tell immediately as you scan through their copy.

2. Experience

This is a big one. Almost every freelance employer focuses on this one aspect alone which is a mistake. And they focus on the wrong side of this aspect. You must be thinking, “Nick, what kind of experience other than working experiences are you talking about?”. Let me explain.

Experience in your relevant industry is more important than writing experience alone. When a copywriter has experience in something, it’s ten times easier to produce excellent copies than going in blindly. This is the type of experience you should be focusing on when hiring.

Sure, writing experience matters. Without a doubt, the copywriter should have some experience in that aspect. It’s a minimum requirement. However, industry experience weighs much more than writing experience. A copywriter who has experienced in your niche is able to write crispier copy than one who has zero experience in your niche.

3. Pricing

Pricing is a tricky territory. You would think that whoever charges a higher price is a pro. With so many copywriting courses available nowadays, that could be further from the truth. People are taught copywriting is a high-income skill and abuse that fact to make money. They would complete a course and go out there charging $97 per hour for a project.

I’m not trying to bring my competitors down but it’s something I cannot hide from you. I assume you had or about to meet these kinds of freelance copywriters. No matter how cheap or expensive a potential hire quotes you, their experiences and skills should speak for them. You would know right away if a copywriter is skilled just by talking to them.

For beginner copywriters, the range would normally be around $35 to $40 per hour; For intermediate copywriters, $65 to $80 per hour; For experienced copywriters, $90 to $120 per hour. I’m only giving you a rough estimate of the prices a copywriter would charge. Do your due diligence so you don’t get taken advantage of.

4. Turnaround

Copywriters would not be able to deliver quickly. In fact, they shouldn’t. Why? Copywriting is a process. It’s not homework that needs to be handed to anybody (you get my point). A quick turnaround is something you should be aware of regardless of their experience.

Copywriters should take their time to do their research, write their first draft, and make necessary edits to their work. There’s no way anyone can do that in just 1 or 2 days unless they do something fishy. Just saying, you never know. If quality is what you’re looking for, time is what you should be willing to give.

Depending on the scope of the project, my turnaround time is usually 4 days or more. This will give me enough time to research, write, edit, and revise my work. The last thing I would do is rush a project just because it needs to be done quickly. Definitely not my way of doing things.

Interested in working with me? Find out more through this link

5. Goals & objectives

There are goals to everything in business, especially in marketing. Whether it’s to raise brand awareness or to capture leads, it’s very important to establish a clear objective for your copy. A good copywriter would want to know what are those objectives and the best way to work towards them.

Remember, a copywriter’s job is to help you write compelling copies that are optimized for conversions. It’s what matters most. Any copywriters who DON’T mention your objectives or tries to find out what those primary objectives are shouldn’t be on your hiring list. It’s harsh but it’s crucial. You don’t want to pay for not getting results.

I always ask my clients about their objectives and goals in their campaigns. This is to establish a clear direction for me to work towards. Quality is the name of my game so I approach things in a goal-driven manner. I win by helping my clients win. Period.

Image is designed by the author with Canva.
Image is designed by the author with Canva.

Tips on finding a good freelance copywriter

Now that you know what a good copywriter should look like, here are some tips to help you justify your potential hire. Take these as guides rather than a checklist. You could miss out on a potentially good hire even if they didn’t fulfill the 5 things mentioned above. So, take them to the test and decide.

Read their work samples

This goes without saying. Work samples are the door to opportunity for copywriters, especially freelance copywriters. Their copy speaks ten times louder than their words. If a copywriter is good, you’ll know it.

They write in such a way that makes you “feel something” within you. Even if you have zero interest in that subject matter or whatsoever. The power of persuasion lies in the words they write. The ability of their words to move you emotionally should tell you something about their copywriting skill.

However, work samples are not the deciding factor because they could just copy and paste it from somewhere else. And proceed to sell you their services without jumping on a call. This huge red flag brings us to the next point.

Listen to how they speak

I would advise you to go for a call whenever possible if you’re interacting with your copywriter for the first time. And listen very carefully. Are they using technical jargon? Or copywriting terms such as conversion and click-through rate?

If they are nowhere near to understanding what those marketing jargons mean, it’s a sign for you to move on. I know that a copywriter is responsible for writing copies only. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t, in the slightest, know about these technical terms. I mean…these are the basic terms of marketing in general.

A copywriter who doesn’t know marketing does you no good. I mean it. Listen to what they say and how they say it. A confident copywriter will be able to speak their mind with little to no effort. Those words come from years of experience in the marketing industry.

Test their marketing basics knowledge

This ties back to the last section. But let’s explore a little further. By marketing basics, I mean sales funnel, customer awareness, and different types of marketing strategies. While these may sound irrelevant to a copywriter, they are not.

Everything a copywriter does is deeply correlated with these marketing basics. In fact, a copywriter’s job is to enhance the performance of a particular marketing campaign. Whether it’s to improve lead generation sign-ups or purchases, a copywriter is responsible to make those numbers look better on the dashboard.

A piece of advice for you — run away as fast as you can if they have no clue about these things. They are only in it for the money. I can’t confirm that but I know better because I’m a freelancer and I know how the gig economy runs. A copywriter’s marketing knowledge forms a clear distinction between an expert and a newbie.

Offer a paid writing test

You’ve jumped on a call with them. But you still have doubts about how good they are despite checking every list on this article. Worry not, you can offer them a writing test. Preferably paid. This will put their skills to the ultimate test.

A test is a good way to find out if they are what they said they are on the call. There’s a catch. You don’t want to give them an actual job. You could make up something to test them but not a real job. Experienced and skilled freelancers can smell something fishy is about to come up. Cheap labor is non-tolerable for them. They’ll leave and you might never get a worthy hire.

You can give them a topic and ask them to come up with a copy that achieves a specific objective. For example, give them a task to design an email marketing sequence for an online course purchase. If you want to take things further, test their work in real-time and see how it performs.

Find out if they blog

There are, if not many, freelance copywriters who don’t share work samples for the sake of the client’s privacy. And I’m one of those. As a result of this, many of my potential clients turned me down because I don’t have “proven” results. I don’t blame them.

The only way I can showcase my expertise is through blogging. Well, I still have my portfolio but I sell my services mostly through my blog. Whoever reads them can decide if we’re a right fit. I take pride in my ability to generate results but not through “proven” results. Because every business is different. What worked for others might not work for you.

I believe there are freelancers who are like me. We are under no obligation to breach our client’s privacy just for your reassurance. We show you who we are and what’s like to work with us when you read our thoughts or when you go through our portfolios. Plus, a blog is a good way to tell if my copy would fit well for your campaigns.

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I would advise you to spend more time finding a worthy freelancer because they will most likely stick with you long-term. When you treat freelancers like a business partner, your business flourishes. It’s a win-win. You get results and they get to pay their bills.

So, have you got a freelance copywriter?


Created by

Nick Chai

Your sales message is the fundamental key to marketing success. I'm writing to share everything I know about neuromarketing so you can apply what works to get more leads and sales. Follow me for more content on persuasion and marketing.







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