Copywriter rates and fees vary as much as the copywriters behind them. Some bill by the hour, others will quote a project fee each time. Still other copywriters ask for a monthly retainer in order to set aside time to work with you.
If you’re looking to work with a copywriter, you need to be comfortable with the way your copywriter will be billing you. You can certainly find copywriters for rates as low as $20/hour and as high as $120/hour and up. Perhaps the lower priced copywriters bill more hours, perhaps not. But really that’s not the issue here. If you’ve got a budget, you’ll do well to get a general feel for whether your copywriter can work within it, regardless of how they break it down. (Here are my general website copywriting rates.)
Most importantly, if it’s your first time working with a copywriter, you need to know there are many other elements to consider, too. Otherwise, you may find yourself stuck midway through a project, even though the copywriter appeared to fit your budget at the start.
I’ve been a copywriter for 12 years now, and I’ve guided many clients who haven’t worked with one before. But those who appreciate me most are the clients who come to me after their previous copywriter disappeared or just couldn’t get the job done right.
If only they could have read this before hiring their copywriter–or other freelancer for that matter.
Here are the main things you need to look for when hiring a copywriter (or other freelancer), even more important than rates and fees:
Dependability is my number one criteria. Why? Because all the talent and experience in the world won’t do you any good if the copywriter, designer, or SEO company can’t be counted on to follow through as promised.
What to look for: Prompt responses to your communications, involvement in other ongoing projects that might require a high level of reliability, presence of many reviews by clients.
Does the vendor or freelancer really care about their work for you? Or are they just going through the motions looking for the paycheck? Enthusiasm for your project will pay off in additional effort that can show up in the form of innovative ideas and higher quality work. A willingness to go above and beyond can trump experience at times.
What to look for: Do they take the time to offer suggestions and explain why they approach things in a certain way? Or do you get lazy one-line responses to your emails? The vendor or freelancer should do a bit of research before they talk to you so they can ask meaningful questions.
Do you prefer phone contact? What if your designer or copywriter is more an email person? You may find this causes snags in the process and can lead to unnecessary delays. Make sure your freelancer or the account executive you’ll be working with at a vendor company is flexible enough to match your communication style.
Also consider time zones. If you prefer to do calls in the morning but you’re on the east coast and your copywriter is in California and prefers afternoon chats, you’ll have a tough time scheduling calls.
Flexibility is also important when it comes to deadlines. Even though you want to give long lead times, there will be situations where you need things done fast. You’ll want to make sure your designer, copywriter or other vendor can step up at those critical times.
Ina addition, you’ll find some freelancers and providers can be stick in the muds when it comes to how they approach their work. If you have a style guide for your written communications that specifies how certain words and phrases should be used, make sure the writer is on board with that. You don’t want to have to edit their work for technicalities or debate things that have already been decided. You shouldn’t hear complaints from the designer when you ask them to make changes to their work (although their rationale and suggestions should be welcomed).
What to look for: Ease of scheduling times to talk, past projects completed on tight deadlines, experience with different styles and brands that would require a flexible approach to their work, confirm any fees for rush work.
Certain efficiencies arise from working with providers already experienced in your industry. There’s a smaller learning curve. They can offer wisdom and guidance. Talk at length with the potential vendor to get a true sense of their knowledge and experience.
What to look for: Samples of work for others in your industry, previous projects dealing with the same technologies you require, a grasp on the basic issues and language of your target audience, elements in their portfolio you can identify with your business.
Of course you want to hire a great copywriter, a talented designer, and an SEO company that really rocks Google. But just be aware that their talent must match your needs. You should ask some tough questions to make sure they can fit your style and vision.
What to look for: Check out their existing work and ask yourself if that’s how you want yours to look. Examine their most recent work to understand the direction the copywriter or designer may be moving in, even if it’s not directly in your industry.
What about you? What criteria beyond rates and fees do you use to hire good freelancers, especially copywriters?