There are a two main reasons why I think small business owners like you and I need to learn how to write our own effective copy. One is because it’s one of the most expensive tasks to outsource and the other is that no one knows your business better than you.

That being said, if you’re at a place where you can afford to hire a pro, then know that a really good copywriter can see your business with a new and fresh perspective. They know how to really draw out the key benefits of your offerings and how to get that message across to your prospects in a way that makes them eager to invest their money with you.

Here are my top tips for finding and hiring the right copywriter to work for your business:

1. Have a clear end goal in mind.

It’s imperative that you have a very clear idea of exactly what you want your copy to do, that you know what end result you expect from the those carefully crafted words and that you’re able to articulate that to the copywriter.

For example, do you want your copy to entice people to buy, sign up for your ezine, tell others about you, or encourage conversation with you? Be sure that you only have ONE main end goal in mind; otherwise your message will not be clear and it won’t be as effective as it could be.

2. Allow ample time for the creative process.

Writing copy is a creative process, so be sure to allow ample time for your copywriter to get to know your business, your style, your message, your audience, and your end goal. Writing copy can be rushed, but you likely won’t be as pleased with the finished product than if you both took your time to get it just right. You’ll likely go through at least two or three revisions before the final cut, and of course, the more on target and polished it is, the better results you’ll enjoy.

3. Hire an expert in the format you need.

If you’re writing for online publication (website, sales pages, email promotions, etc.), then you want to make sure you hire a copywriter who has experience and a track record in writing in that format.

There is a science to writing copy that anyone can learn, but you don’t want to pay for someone to learn how when they’re writing for your project. Ask your colleagues for referrals or look at online copy you find compelling and ask the publisher who they used to find the right copywriter for you.

4. Contact references.

When I was a freelance writer, I had a store of written pieces of my best work to show potential editors and clients. I also had a list of references that my prospects could contact to find out how well I worked with them and for them. Any good copywriter will offer references for you to contact as well, along with samples of their work. Be sure to follow up with these references. Someone can glow on paper but not be the right person for you, so be sure to get the inside scoop from others who’ve worked with the copywriter before.

5. Get a higher ROI by paying more.

There’s only one thing that sells your offerings – and that is the words on the page. You can have the prettiest website with gorgeous photos but if your word aren’t compelling enough, you won’t entice people to buy. On the other hand, you can have the ugliest website online and make loads of money – if you’ve nailed the copy.

Good copywriters know that they can make loads of money for their clients and charge accordingly. Yes, you can find copywriters for $50 an hour who will do a fine job, but this is one area where the more you invest, the more you’ll make back on that investment.

6. Have a written agreement.

Most professionals will have a written agreement for you to look over and sign that generally outlines the size and scope of the project, any fees to be paid upfront (called a retainer), the full project fee, how many revisions are allowed, and the timetable for completion. It’s to everyone’s benefit to have something in writing before the actual start of the project.

Remember, too, that when you’re hiring someone to work on your business with you, whether that’s a copywriter, a virtual assistant, a web designer, or whoever, work ethic and personality are also key in terms of getting the right look, feel and message across to your audience, with a lot less effort. So when you’re hiring, be open to following your gut on who ‘feels right’ for the job as much as who has the skills to do the work.

© 2007 Alicia M Forest and