THE Creativity Chronicles

A journal of creative thoughts, content commissions I'm working on and where I'm at right now. The life of a creative copywriter.

"Creativity takes courage" - Henri Matisse

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how to tell if a copywriter is any good

How To Tell if a Copywriter is Any Good

July 27, 2020

I often get businesses approach me who have already worked with copywriters and things have gone a little bit wrong.  This immediately makes it difficult as there’s trust issues.  And I get it.  At the end of the day – copywriters aren’t like vets or lawyers, anybody can pick up a pen and tell you they’re a copywriter.  It seems the internet is full of writers, coaches and marketing experts.  How on earth do you know where to look or if someone is any good?

What brought this home to me more than ever is that I’m currently looking into working with a Facebook advert expert and I feel like I’m wading through treacle.  So many people say they specialise in social media adverts when they’ve actually just set up.  Many people say they are interested in working together then try to sell their course rather than actually connecting on a one-to-one project and the more I delve into it I’m realising everyone with a mobile phone and a laptop is now a coach/social media expert or a copywriter.

As a veteran in voice creation this can be difficult because sometimes by the time people get to me they can be a bit burned by a bad experience.  In the modern world, anybody can create a sponsored post without any credentials or copywriting experience so how on earth do you know if a writer is actually good at their job.  Here are my top tips for finding out if a scribe is worth their salt:

Look at Their Work

The most important thing you can do is look at their work.  See what past projects are like and if you like their style of writing.  You will learn more from this than anything they say to you – the proof is in the portfolio.

Don’t Trust Testimonials

I say this as someone who shares testimonials but honestly, in the marketing world, these aren’t worth the paper they are written on.  So many are shaped and staged – in my past life running a content marketing agency clients often said “just write what you want me to say” – I never did this by the way but I know many who did – take what others have “said” with a pinch of salt.

Scroll Past Sponsored Adverts

A sponsored advert is designed to sell to you.  It’s basically a full face of make-up, a word-perfect script (usually one that I can’t stomach) and positions everything perfectly.  It’s designed to sell to you.  By all means take it into consideration but don’t make a decision based on anything that’s been bank-rolled to win your business.

But Look at their Social Media Content

Do look at social media content.  This will give you an idea of what someone has to say.  It becomes quite apparent quite quickly when somebody has nothing of substance to share.  A good copywriter should show expertise and (sometimes) experience as well as a strong voice of their own.

Experience is Overrated

In saying that, experience is often overrated. The good thing about an experienced copywriter is they’ve been writing for a long time and have experience in multiple areas for different mediums and diversity within industries – we’re old hands at creating human connection through content. However, talent can’t really be taught. Someone who has got pure talent without the experience should still be considered but make sure you check out their copy.

Check Out Their Website

Which brings me to this point – check out their website and see what you think.  Are they standing out in their own industry?  Are they conveying their difference and showing what sets them apart?  Will you remember them?  They don’t have to sound like you (a great writer can successfully shape-shift, changing their content style like a chameleon) but ask yourself is their brand clear from their voice?

Start a Conversation

Begin a conversation with the copywriter.  You will know instantly whether or not they have talent (or just talk) and more importantly, whether there’s a connection between you.  This person needs to become you on the page – trust is paramount.

Connect with a Client

Rather than accepting a testimonial, go and get in touch with a client.  Find someone who has paid for work to be written by that writer and ask them for an honest opinion. 

Trust Your Instinct

Above everything, trust your instinct.  You will know after that first chat if someone is right for you.  And we do too.  On the rare occasion that someone comes along for copywriting who isn’t right for me (my website/social media/brand usually helps attract the right clients and filter out the wrong ones) then I can signpost them elsewhere.  You will know instinctively if this writer is the right writer. 

Take as long as you need.  It’s important to get it right (and avoid a re-write).  A good copywriter in your arsenal is not just about a one-liner, they’re an ally for life.

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