The Copywriter Q+A (Part One) – Hiring and working with a copywriter

copywriting | q+a

There are usually several questions I get asked regularly when someone is considering hiring me as their copywriter. So, I thought it would be a good idea to throw them all into a blog post and make life a lot easier for those of you wondering the same things! This copywriter Q+A centres around the processes of hiring and working with a copywriter. So, let’s get into it!

What do you need from me to get started?

At the start of our journey, what’s most important to me, as a copywriter, is what you are looking for and what you’re hoping to gain from booking my services. By which I mean what service is it you’re looking to book me for – such as blogging, writing newsletters, putting together email templates for you or writing your website copy (just some of the services I offer!). That’s a pretty basic request on my part and only explains a tiny amount of the beginning of our process.

The other half of that is finding out WHY you want to book me for these services. What will booking me do for you and your business? It helps me to understand the answer to that question so I can be sure I’m going to be the right person to help you achieve what you’re looking for.

That sounds like a bit of a wishy-washy answer but I’ll try to explain it a little better for you. For instance, maybe you’re looking for a copywriter who is going to come up with and produce blog posts for you so you don’t have to think about that side of your business at all. Or maybe you need help with blogging because you struggle with writing but you know it’s an important part of getting more traffic to your website. The chances are, if you’re the first person, I’m likely going to refer you on to someone else. Why? Because I believe that our work together should be a collaboration. I want to be able to provide good quality blog posts for you that don’t sound like they were written for you. I want them to sound like they’ve come FROM you so that they go some way towards speaking to and connecting with your ideal clients.

So, knowing those two things at the very beginning is a great start. The only thing I need from you, once you’ve decided to go ahead and book me, is a bit of enthusiasm to throw some stuff my way and then I’ll get on and do the rest!

What would be the process of working together?

My process does differ depending on what services you’ve booked me for. For some clients, all I’ll need is a list of ideas and a video chat to go over everything and then I’ll be good to go. For others, it might be more in-depth, with a branding questionnaire to complete, meetings and HOMEWORK I’ll set you. Yes, folks, I am that person who will set you homework. It’s all for the greater good though, I promise!

Blogging is currently my most popular service. I have several methods of harvesting information for your blog posts, depending on the kind of person you are. Some of my clients like to braindump ideas and bullet points for each topic and then send that over in an email. Others prefer to send me a voice recording of some thoughts and ideas. I am open to all methods of working and I would class myself as pretty flexible!

What’s key is that it is a collaboration of sorts and it is a process. Partly one of figuring out the best way to work together, but also one of building a new friendship. I find it does help to make friends with my clients, especially as I need to be writing in their voice so I guess I have to get into their heads a little bit! Nothing creepy or stalkerish though, I promise!

Do I have to give you specific ideas for what to write about?

Not at all! Some of my clients do like to be quite specific, and that’s fine. It gives me plenty to go on as a starting point and ensures I am writing about their chosen subject in a way that makes sense to them and with plenty of detail.

Some clients, however, will give me a subject heading and ask me to come up with something based on that. If I’m writing about a subject I’m familiar with, such as with photography, for example, then I’ll go with it. If it’s something I’m less familiar with, I will spend some time doing research and then I’ll put your piece together based on what I find out.

In the beginning, though, it might be in your favour to be a little more specific with your ideas, as I work to find your voice and learn your thoughts and opinions about things. As we get to know one another more, I will find it easier to write for you because I know you better! The point being, anyone can write a generic blog post about a subject they’ve researched on the internet. What matters to me is that we put your spin on the work so that it sounds like it’s come from you!

Can you write blog posts that are both engaging AND optimised for search engines? 

This is absolutely what I always aim to do! 

To be clear, though… I do not rely on SEO as part of my writing process. What that means is I don’t spend hours researching keywords or any of that jazz. 

Of course, keywords play a part in your blogging and website copy, and I always have that in the back of my mind. But my priority is to have your work sounding like a human wrote it – like YOU wrote it – rather than a robot writing for Google. That doesn’t interest me. Good, valuable, engaging content matters most to me because when it is all those things, it’ll get read and shared by people. Google likes that too, you know!

As an aside though, I do recommend you use a plugin tool like Yoast and optimise each post using that plugin. It’ll make a huge difference to your work being found online!

How do you adapt to my voice so my clients hear me?

Witchcraft and trickery, my friends. Witchcraft and trickery…

Ok, no, not really. But I have been accused of having multiple personalities because I can write in a variety of different voices. 

The best way for me to explain it is this… it all comes down to the uniqueness of you. That sounds woo-woo, I know. But what I mean by that is your life, your experiences, your likes, loves, hates, desires, dreams and so on, all have a bearing on how you behave and speak. 

I guess that’s partly why I need to get to know you as a person. If I have some understanding of some of those unique parts that make up you, I can get a feel for your voice a little better. That’s why I arrange video chats rather than phone calls. It helps me to see you as well as hear you speak. It builds up that voice and tone more loudly and clearly. 

It does also come down to language. Your tone of voice, phrases you say, favourite words, even your accent. It all has a bearing on how I translate that into your written voice.

For what it’s worth, your written voice is never going to be entirely like your speaking voice. It will always be a little more polished (and certainly contain far fewer umms and ahhs than in real life!). But there is a noticeable difference from person to person in their written voice, just as much as their speaking voice.

I don’t know how else to explain it. I hear those things. I notice repetitive words that people use, words they favour over others. I notice their colloquialisms, how they greet and refer to people, whether they speak in an excited tone ALL THE TIME!!! Or in a quieter, shyer way. All these things have a bearing on how I then write your words. 

So yeah, maybe it is a bit of witchcraft and trickery after all!

Well, that was a lot of fun answering those questions! I have more, but I’ll save them for other posts. I’d quite like this to be a rolling series as more questions come up. So, if you do have anything you want to ask, please do drop a comment below or send me an email: hello@sarahwayte.com

In the meantime, I spoke about all these subjects and a little bit more in my first Facebook Live video recently which you can find here. Take a look and feel free to post any questions on there as you think of them! There will be more Lives coming, so like the page and follow to find out when the next one will be!