Working With a Freelance Copywriter
When you hire a freelance copywriter and/or content writer, it’s natural to have a lot of questions. In fact, it would be rash if you didn’t make detailed inquiries up front, otherwise how would you find the right match for your organization?
I’ve put together a series of questions and answers to help you narrow down your choice. The first series covers practical issues about fees, terms and payment methods. The second relates to my writing experience and approach.
If you still have questions at the end, please contact me.
Helen McCrone, SEO Copywriter and Content Writer
Questions about my copywriting fees, terms and payment
How much do you charge?
I usually charge by the project, not by the hour or word count. As you’ll probably appreciate, no two projects are the same so I can’t tell you here what I would charge you. I’d have to discuss the project with you first.
The factors that I take into account when I price a project include number of words to be written, time required for planning, research and creativity, number of meetings and review rounds, and complexity of the topic. To give you an idea of how much you’ll need to invest in certain types of projects, I’ve produced a rough guide to my copywriting fees.
Why don’t you charge by the hour?
Project fees make it much easier for my clients to budget and plan. They’re clear cut and don’t produce any surprises. However, there are occasions when I charge by the hour, usually when I’m working for agencies or if a client’s objectives are unclear and they’re likely to make significant changes during the project, (e.g. generating concepts for a flyer). I also charge an hourly fee for consultancy sessions.
Will you give me a customized quote?
Yes, I will. Once I know what your unique writing needs and marketing objectives are, I’ll draw up a quote for you that includes the project task, the process and your total investment.
Do you require a deposit?
I do ask for a deposit of between 35% and 50% for new clients and/or large projects, which is in line with copywriting industry standards.
Will I have to sign a service agreement?
Yes, I will ask you to sign a copywriting service agreement before I start scribbling. I think it’s really important for both parties to write down the objective and scope of the project. We don’t want any misunderstandings later on.
Here’s an example of my service agreement. You’ll find that it uses clear language and sets out precisely who should do what and when, and what will happen if something goes wrong.
What if the project scope changes?
That can happen sometimes when writing content. If it does, I’ll draw up a Change to Project Agreement, which sets out the changes, and the revised schedule and fee. Once you’ve signed it, I can continue writing.
What are your terms of business?
For new clients or large projects, I charge between 35% and 50% upfront. The remainder of the fee is due at the end of the project, which is on acceptance of the final draft, or 14 days after turning it in, whichever is sooner.
If you want to cancel our agreement, that’s not a problem, but I will charge you for any work already carried out, including any desktop research, and for any expenses incurred.
I reserve the right to display all aspects of my creative work in my portfolio and on my website unless I have signed an NDA. Here’s a link to my complete Terms and Conditions.
How do I pay you?
You can pay me by check, bank transfer or a payment app such as Zelle or Venmo. Obviously, if you pay your deposit by check, that will slow down the start of your project, so please bear that in mind.
Questions about my copywriting experience and approach
How long have you been a copywriter?
I got my copywriting diploma in 2005. Back then, I had no clue that I’d be commissioned by a "Big Four" accounting firm or the world’s leading commercial hygiene services provider to write copy. Or that I’d need to learn all about online cremations, cataract surgery, digital payment systems and chemical warehousing. My work has been varied, that’s for sure. You can read more about me and my experience here.
What content writing services do you provide?
I focus mainly on website content, ebooks and white papers, marketing emails, blog post and articles, video scripts and case studies. I also provide traditional copywriting services such as press releases, product and corporate brochures, flyers and direct mail.
If you don't see the service you're looking for listed above, that doesn't mean I don't provide it. I can (and do) turn my hand to most types of copy, so just ask.
You may find this article helpful: The difference between ebooks and white papers.
Do you provide an SEO copywriting or content writing service?
Yes, I provide both. In 2020 I became a certified SEO copywriter with the SEO Content Institute, run by the well-respected Heather Lloyd-Martin. This means I can do professional keyword research, follow best practices to produce SEO-rich content, and apply my knowledge of direct marketing (note that not all content writers are trained copywriters).
How do you optimize content for search engines?
As an SEO copywriter, I’m familiar with all the aspects of writing search-engine friendly content: keywords, anchor text, meta descriptions, ALT tags, and other SEO copywriting basics. I keep up to date with the latest algorithm updates from Google and follow the advice of well-known SEO gurus. Most importantly, I adopt a content-focused approach to SEO, which puts your readers’ needs front and center (no keyword stuffing on my watch).
Are you familiar with my industry?
I’ve worked with many industries over the years as a copywriter and—before that—as an accountant and financial manager in industry. The sectors that I’m most familiar with are manufacturing, engineering and logistics, training and development, HR and recruitment, accounting and business services.
But I’ve written copy for many other types of industries, including cremations and funerals, cosmetology, payment platforms, car leasing, legal services, and health services.
If your industry isn’t listed here, don’t worry. I’m a quick learner, and I excel at taking a complex subject and breaking it down into bite-sized pieces that a target audience will understand and engage with. That is what’s going to make your content much better than your competitor’s.
How do you research a topic before you write?
The ability to research is an essential skill for all quality copywriters. Over the years, I’ve developed into a proficient researcher and a skilled interviewer. I use a variety of methods to research a topic, from reading my clients’ own internal documents and conducting desk-top research to interviewing subject-matter experts.
These days, so much information is available on the internet, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. The trick is knowing where to look for the most relevant facts, evaluating the sources of those facts (they have to be sound), asking interviewees the right questions, and keeping track of all my findings so that I can cite them later (I find Trello and Evernote particularly handy all the research I accumulate).
Are you comfortable writing in different styles?
Absolutely. Part of my job is to adapt my writing to a client’s house style. If your company has a voice chart (i.e. your brand’s personality), we’re off to a flying start. If you don’t have that, I’ll ask you to identify a couple of websites whose style you’d like to emulate. Finally, I can always help you develop a house style.
Do you provide free writing samples?
No, I don’t. But you can check out my copywriting portfolio and I can tell you about any experiences I have that relate to your project.
I understand that hiring a freelance copywriter you're unfamiliar with can involve a certain amount of trepidation. Will I understand enough about your product? Can I adopt your brand’s style and tone of voice? Will I deliver the draft on time?
My best advice is to start small. Dip your toes by assigning me a small, one-off project to get a feel for my writing skills and—just as importantly—how we work together.
Are you happy to work with our website designer and marketing team?
Sure. In fact, I always appreciate the opportunity to communicate directly with other people working on the project. Too often, copywriters are left out of the loop, which is a shame because we understand that each piece of copy that we write fits into a larger marketing picture. If I know what your website designer and marketing team need from me, and if I can bring my own perspective to the table, we'll end up with better results.
Do you have any repeat customers?
Yes, I do, I’m pleased to say. In fact, some of my repeat customers are in the Netherlands, where I lived for about 15 years. They still give me projects even though I moved to the States more than five years ago and I’m six hours behind them. What's more, the majority of my work comes from repeat customers and referrals. If you would like a direct referral from one or more of my customers, please ask.
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