With recent updates to Google’s Penguin algorithm, more emphasis than ever before has been placed on providing your users with a fresh stream of original, engaging content that can be shared organically around the web. The problem is that you have the ideas and the platform, but the time and wording are a little bit harder to come by. So what do you do? You outsource it of course!
Consequently this means that everyone with a MacBook and a spare room can go into business as a copywriter, and probably make a decent wage by writing articles for your site. The question is though, how can you tell if a copywriter really is worth your time and money?
The Portfolio Question
For many self set-up copywriters, their portfolio is the central pillar of their personal branding and marketing, and quite rightly so. A good portfolio is the sum of all its parts; it should cover a range of styles of writing, and convey the depth and variety of which the writer is capable. Don’t be surprised however if a reputable copywriting agency refuses to show you a portfolio of their work. Whilst at first it might scream ‘red-flag’, consider perhaps that the copywriter is trying to protect the integrity of their relationship with their clients. Investing in a copywriter who hasn’t shown you any work can seem like a risky prospect, but their desire to protect their clients could equally be an indicator of professional integrity. Acting on referrals from friends or relatives is a great way to circumvent this issue.
Talking the Talk
The best copywriters don’t claim to have an expert level of knowledge in every niche industry; instead they offer the comprehensive research skills to learn what they need to about said sector, before incorporating this into engaging pieces of writing. That being said, when you pay them to create your content, time spent gathering information and conducting research is part of what you pay for. When the first drafts roll in, you’ll quickly be able to ascertain just how much time has been spent on research by the level of industry specific knowledge present. Does the copy do a good job of sustaining the illusion that it has been written by an industry professional? Great copywriters are able to maintain this image whilst simultaneously making the content easily accessible to those who aren't an expert in the field.
The Answer is in the Question
As you work together with your copywriters to draft the perfect content, make sure to take note of what questions they’re asking, as this can be an easy way to differentiate the good from the bad. In general, the more specific the questions, the better. This doesn't only demonstrate a level of care and respect for you as a client, but should also result in copy that is more acutely tailored to your organisation.
Remember that the copy on your site is an integral aspect of your brand image, and will go a long way to shaping how people perceive your brand. With this in mind, take a lot of time to choose a copywriter who works for you, and most importantly understands your organisation. Check back to our blog next week for ways to identify poor copywriters, and make sure you don’t waste your money on sub-par content.