How to Find a Copywriter
Finding UK copywriters who are actually talented, affordable and available, can be akin to looking for a needle in a haystack. Copywriters UK, per se, aren’t a rare breed. Finding the one you need at the right time – that’s where things get tricky.
Furthermore, hunting down UK copywriters for your content marketing isn’t a simple case of sifting through some CVs. Frankly, it won’t tell you what you need to know. Why? Because you need to be shown it. You need evidence. That means a portfolio is far more important than a list of qualifications.
Then there’s the other problem. There are literally thousands of copywriters worldwide. Can you settle for someone who isn’t UK-based and know you’ll get a good job done?
Let’s be realistic. The problems encountered by small to medium business owners when it comes to employing copywriters is our raison d’être. We exist out of a desire to solve the problem businesses had finding the copywriting talent they needed when they needed it, to a consistently high standard.
We also exist out of a frustration on the part of copywriters themselves. The really awesome ones, the ones you need, aren’t lolling about twiddling thumbs waiting for you. And they kind of resent handing over a hefty chunk of their fee in freelancer platform fees.
The Content Ninja exists to marry these two sides. So of course, we can’t help but write this post from an angle of bias. But we’re straight up about it.
Finding UK copywriters
So obviously, our straight forward answer is: use us. You’ll always get an exceptional UK copywriter when you need them, for a fair price, and the writer will be paid fairly too.
However, we know you need a slightly more detailed answer than that. What should you actually be looking for?
1. Know your requirements
Your biggest hurdle to a successful writing project, is to know your own brief. Whether you’re looking for a small blog post or a 15,000 word eBook, the same rule applies.
This is because copywriters are not a single homogenous beast. Instead, they are all differently talented and skilled individuals.
This means you get copywriters who are exceptional generalists when it comes to blog posts, but you wouldn’t set them to work on a technical eBook. You get subject specialists. You get those who are better at SEO than others. You get those who have a bubbly punchy style, and those who are better suited to education.
Therefore, before you even begin looking for a freelance copywriter, you need to know what you want. This enables you to narrow your search.
Top tip: This is another area where our content shop really helps. Your project is always matched to the most appropriately skilled and experienced copywriter available at the time.
2. Skill levels matter
Next, you need to consider the skill level that you actually require. There are times when you don’t actually need a WOW copywriter, and an ‘ok-and-follow-SEO’ one will do just fine.
If this is the case, then you can cut some corners, use a freelancer platform and choose the cheapest available, wherever in the world they might be. This is because you know that actually, awesome English isn’t necessary in a post which will probably never be read.
However, in reality, the vast majority of writing gigs just aren’t like that. Real people are reading your stuff (or you want them to), and it needs to shine. It needs to meet its goals and exceed them.
Finding a copywriter who really gets your brand, and will be available for you as much as possible, is one (of many) areas where freelance platforms for copywriters fall down. Once you’ve found a copywriter who really works well for you, you’re going to want to hold on to them for dear life.
However, from the freelance writer’s point of view, this is tricky. If one month you need 20 blog posts, an eBook and 50 social media posts, but the next you need nothing, how does this work? You could pay a retainer, but this will likely cause you a bit of stress. It may also be tricky for the freelancer who is, after all, working freelance for flexibility amongst other reasons.
You could bring your copywriter in-house. However, the vast majority of businesses don’t want or need to. You’ll have nasty overheads for a start. Then you need to be able to justify that amount of work. However, in some cases, particularly for bigger businesses, this is worthwhile. Your writers really get a handle of your brand and goals and all’s good in writing land. See below for the best copywriter interview questions.
Top tip: The Content Ninja aim to match your projects with your preferred writer wherever possible, whilst retaining a flexible ‘shop-based’ approach.
3. Don’t confuse SEO with good writing
Slightly touched on above, but for the love of the Grammar Police, please don’t confuse a great SEO writer with a copywriting pro.
A skilled copywriter in the UK will have fantastic SEO knowledge and use that knowledge to make your writing SEO-friendly where required. They weave SEO techniques so seamlessly in to outstanding writing that you don’t even notice it’s there. This engages your audience, builds your brand, but also keeps the SEO spiders happy.
A good SEO writing generator will, on the other hand, write to prescribed form. You can spot this writing a million miles away. You’ll be switched off from reading it within a few sentences.
This isn’t to say SEO in writing isn’t important. It is. It should just be a given with an excellent writer. They are about more than SEO. They make your brand sing, they engage, they provoke, they educate.
4. Realise conversion rates are meaningless to the hire process
Content writing, by its very nature, is a long-burn process. This is because content itself is. Content takes time to really gain traction. That means that the copywriter who wrote the content is long gone by the time you really start seeing the power of the content.
This is where a lot of smaller businesses give up. With content, it’s very unusual to see instantaneous results. It takes a loooooong time. However, when the results start to come in, they are incredibly powerful and will keep on giving, over and over.
Therefore, you simply can’t judge a writer’s ability on conversion rates. Firstly, they won’t know them. They are writers, not data analysers. Care about your brand and message portrayal first and foremost.
Secondly, conversion rates are about so much more than the writing itself. Things such as programming, advertising, social media pushing and the like, all come in to play, which are outside of the copywriter’s hands.
5. An evidenced based approach
The biggest thing you can do to see if a copywriter will work for you is ask to see some relevant portfolio pieces. If you’re really lucky they may be able to show you some ‘before’ and ‘after’ pieces so you can really see the added value.
However, portfolio pieces themselves are the evidence you need. These aren’t specially created pieces for fictional companies - no writer has time for that. Therefore, you are looking at the real quality you will receive.
Top tip: Look for a portfolio. If you don’t see something similar to what you want, ask.
What we don’t recommend you do is ask for a test piece, unless it’s very small and you’re looking to have an enormous project completed. The reason we say this is that you will automatically switch off every awesome copywriter. They are busy enough doing real genuine paid work without jumping through a hoop which may or may not land a decent gig.
Asking for a free tester piece also tends to give the impression you want something for nothing – never a good look. Honestly, if you can’t see what you want in their portfolio, then look for a different writer. Don’t take them for mugs or scrimp on your own evidence.
6. Communication really matters
Surely, all that matters is they can write, yes? Well not completely.
Certainly in the early days of hiring a copywriter, you’ll potentially need some editing done here and there. Great content becomes awesome content with constructive feedback. Over time they can become a spectacular brand representative through this process.
This means that it can be important, at the hiring stage, to find someone you communicate well with and can collaborate with. You need to know they can really follow your brief with no wavering.
The communication and collaboration between the two of you will result in spell-bindingly powerful copy.
Top tip: The Content Ninja writers aren’t only selected for their writing ability. They are selected for their ability to really meet client objectives through both writing and collaboration.
If you are looking to get a copywriter in-house
So far, we’ve really focused on tracking down the awesome UK copywriters. You can read more about why we don’t recommend a freelancer platform, here. So do your homework, or pop over to our content shop.
However, what about if you actually do want to get a copywriter in-house, then what?
Well, all of the steps above still apply. They are all excellent hiring principles for copywriters. However, we happen to have a vast amount of recruiting experience to our bow, and we’d recommend these interview questions for copywriters:
1. Have you ever come up with some writing your client didn’t like? What did you do?
Writing is highly personal. It’s tricky to wave goodbye to something you’ve put your heart and soul in to, only to have it met with dislike. However, you need to know that your chosen copywriter has the flexibility to go back to the drawing board without their flow hampered by a grudge.
2. Why did you become a copywriter?
This one is always super interesting. The reality is: there will be no set answer. People come to copywriting from a plethora of different backgrounds. In fact, it is often these backgrounds which lend layers of exceptionalism to their writing. However, all will have a tale of their way with words. Look beyond qualifications here to a passionate drive to write.
3. Name some of your favourite brands for copywriting inspiration
Copywriters have their own natural style, even if that gets confined and shaped by the various different clients they write for. Therefore, you can find out a great deal about a copywriter by asking them what their dream brand is.
4. Have you ever had writer’s block?
This is a biggie. A die-hard novelist can take a break and come back to it. A copywriter needs to be capable and on-form consistently and constantly. They need to be able to write an upbeat piece about Christmas when they are feeling decidedly bah humbug, for example. Gaining insight in to how they deal with moments when the words won’t flow is important.
5. How do you handle a topic you don’t understand?
Even a specialist writer will come across pieces that challenge their understanding. Writers tend to be, by their very nature, inquisitive and well-read individuals. Look to discover how they have developed research skills in areas that are new to them to still result in outstanding copy.
Where to find your UK copywriter?
So you’re ready to hire a copywriter, for a freelance job or in-house? Now you have a few different options.
Obviously, we’d argue that you should simply get us cracking, by ordering some content.
Alternatively, you can turn to freelance platforms such as People Per Hour, Upwork or Freelancer. We’ve written a very detailed report on different freelance platforms here, so that you can see if this is for you.
You could also head over to Procopywriters. This is a members-only directory of UK copywriters. You can see relevant skills and get in touch if you see someone you like. You’ll be doing a fair amount of the legwork though.
UK copywriters really are worth their weight in gold. Find a writing service that works for your content marketing, and don’t let go.
Chrissie Brown developed The Content Ninja to ensure small and medium businesses can access exceptional copywriters affordably and on a flexible basis. She also has over a decade’s experience in recruitment. She knows a thing or two about tracking down talent.