The chicken or the egg with hiring a copywriter

16 replies
Hey guys, I am not quite getting the whole concept of hiring a copywriter! I have read all the sticky's and a quite a bit online like gary halbert letters etc. I have noticed that on one end of the scale you get copywriters with a totally arrogant attitude, saying things like "i never advertise" or "you can't get a real copywriter for under 5k per job." However then you see in the warriors for hire section people advertising for work as a copywriter. In these ads they also quite often behave arrogantly. It seems to me that this behavior is really just copywriting for themselves. It works too because you think, well if this guy/girl says I can't even hire them, then I want to hire them...BUT they are paying $40 for the advertisement so that someone will hire them, (presumably). So, my question or problem is, if i put a job in the warrior wanted section asking for a copywriter and offer a reasonable pay, then how do I select the best person for the job. Is it the guy/girl who writes to me saying that he/she is so good that I can't hire him/her anyway, however email them for a quote? Or do you take a bit of a risk and hire the person who seems legit, however is coming in way under the 5K mark in their advertisements. Where do the experts get their start, presumably the don't just say "i'm a copywriter so therefore you must pay me 5-10K for an email copy," they must start somewhere, and I would imagine this would be doing the same job for 500-1000 dollars, and then moving up.

Also, how are you supposed to choose which person is the right person for the job, if they are all good at writing copy, they can all presumably write an email telling you that they are the right person for the job. AND, apparently the good ones don't have time to respond other than a few sentences, so...do you hire the one who doesn't respond well? ARGH!

This post is not meant to annoy anyone by the way, it is an honest question. I don't think anyone is really arrogant, I just think this is a copywriting tactic for selling themselves.

Thanks for any suggestions/comments
#chicken #copywriter #egg #hiring
  • Profile picture of the author Don Grace
    You get what you pay for, and in this case more than any. Those of us that charge big bucks do so because we have proven track records of making our clients millions. So provided you have a killer product that helps people and a solid traffic strategy (and budget for your traffic), investing thousands into something that can pay off big time is a drop in the bucket.

    So ask for proof as in "How much have you sold online?" And have a copy budget in mind from the start so your candidate and you don not waste each others time. Personally I like to consult with a potential client (If I don't know them) and see their product. I'll be honest right away if I don't see it being a match or if I think it's no good.

    Keep in mind if you want to risk your money on cheap copy, you're usually taking a shot on someone with not much (If any) experience. You might find a winner, but more often than not you'll end up spending more in the long run.
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  • Profile picture of the author laurencewins
    The bottom line is that you will get what you pay for. I don't do copywriting at all, even though I do get countless requests. This is because, even though I can write a sales page, I know it isn't a high calibre one and I don't want people to believe I can provide what I can't.

    An open discussion with any potential copywriter is the best way to go.
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    Cheers, Laurence. Writer/Editor/Proofreader.
    Visit my site for more info

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  • Profile picture of the author BrianMcLeod
    Kurt,

    When there's money on the line, you're always hedging your bets.

    You believe you have a product that people will buy. You're betting on it.

    You hope your copywriter will help you accomplish that. You're betting on that, too.

    A great copywriter is more than just a writer to you, though. They're your war time consigliere - your advisor, your trusted confidante... devising strategies and defenses and building up arms in order to win.

    Experience is expensive while talent is often cheap.

    There's always going to be somebody who's burning the candle at both ends trying to spark a new freelance career as a "pro copywriter". That's 100% as it should be!

    Frequently, you can find someone who will bust their ass for you, for not a lot of risk.

    Once in a while, what they deliver will get the results everyone's after.

    You pays your money and you takes your chances. That's business.

    Do you have any other marketers you're friendly with who've hired copywriters recently? Better to start by referral than searching want-ads, even on the low-end.

    Hope this helps,

    Brian
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  • Profile picture of the author shawnlebrun
    The way I see it, a copywriter who produces results is a professional and should be paid accordingly.

    It's much like the minor leagues in baseball... who make about $20,000 a year and the pros in the big leagues who often make millions.

    It's because of results and value.

    If you produce results, more often than not, you have more value than those who don't have a proven track record.

    If your past results have shown you've sold millions... you are more valuable than those who have not produced any results.

    So, if you're more valuable... you command more in fees/pay.

    Less valuable= less pay.

    This isn't always the case though... I know of very good copywriters who have produced many winners... yet their self-image and self-esteem won't let them charge the big bucks. so that's more of an internal battle.

    But for the most part... the higher your value to a business... the more money you can command.

    the only times I'll go under $3,000 to $5,000 for copy jobs is when I'm training my staff and need to grab jobs quickly.

    In my experience... it's simply not worth it to work for less than $5,000 per job when you can just write your own copy for your own products and make a lot more.

    But bottom line, it all comes down to results and value.

    Don said it best above... ask the copywriter about results and how much they sold online... that's a great starting point. Past results don't always predict the future results... but it's a pretty safe bet that if you go with someone who has proven results and sales... you'll more likely get a winning campaign than someone who hasn't produced results.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kurt@viewswin
    Hey guys, thanks for the suggestions. Yes I do know that you get what you pay for, this is the reason I am planning to hire someone with experience in copy writing.

    Another follow up question, how do you get proof of past accomplishments? It would be seemingly pretty easy to claim the work of others in this field, or manipulate data, or plain out BS! Especially someone who is apt at writing copy, (even though not experienced), could put together a pretty convincing case for the job. How do you get verifyable proof? I could say I made up the McDonalds color scheme, or just pick anything successful from online, and say I did that. Who has time to check this type of thing. I guess there is always an element of risk in business, what would you guys suggest? Ask for references?
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    • Profile picture of the author Scott Murdaugh
      Originally Posted by Kurt@viewswin View Post

      Hey guys, thanks for the suggestions. Yes I do know that you get what you pay for, this is the reason I am planning to hire someone with experience in copy writing.

      Another follow up question, how do you get proof of past accomplishments? It would be seemingly pretty easy to claim the work of others in this field, or manipulate data, or plain out BS! Especially someone who is apt at writing copy, (even though not experienced), could put together a pretty convincing case for the job. How do you get verifyable proof? I could say I made up the McDonalds color scheme, or just pick anything successful from online, and say I did that. Who has time to check this type of thing. I guess there is always an element of risk in business, what would you guys suggest? Ask for references?
      Ask for references.

      References with the numbers to back it up. Not all clients will want to talk specifics about their business. Some will.

      This will sound a little self-promotional, but when I'm making a case with a potential new client I'll send them a list of names, some of the projects tied to the clients I'm using as references, and their Skype ID's or emails (with permission of course).

      The great thing about having awesome clients is that they have absolutely no problem taking a few minutes to tell people about honest experiences dealing with a copywriter.

      One of a copywriters biggest jobs is injecting proof that people know you can't fake. It's essential for your product. And if they can't do it for their own services - with very rare exception - that'd be a warning flag for me.

      Those exceptions could be guys who works strictly on a private basis for big names and can't talk about their clients, guys who primarily work for themselves or the occasional up-and-comer who has chops but hasn't had the chance to prove themselves yet (the latter being pretty rare).

      Another smart thing to do is look back at their forum posts, Google their names, see what kind of advice they're dishing out, if they seem like someone you'd work well with and what others say about them in public.

      Hope that helps.

      -Scott
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      Over $30 Million In Marketing Data And A Decade Of Consistently Generating Breakthrough Results - Ask How My Unique Approach To Copy Typically Outsells Traditional Ads By Up To 29x Or More...

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    • Profile picture of the author MikeHumphreys
      Originally Posted by Kurt@viewswin View Post

      Hey guys, thanks for the suggestions. Yes I do know that you get what you pay for, this is the reason I am planning to hire someone with experience in copy writing.

      Another follow up question, how do you get proof of past accomplishments?
      Put it this way... if your business friend or ally had a positive experience with a copywriter and they knew you needed a copywriter... would they recommend them to you?

      Unless they were wanting to hide their "secret source", they would because they want to help you succeed too.

      Another way to get proof of past accomplishments is any testimonials the copywriter has gotten from happy clients that are found on their website. Specifically, testimonials where a conversion rate or amount of sales produced is quoted. If the testimonials are from well-known businesses or marketers that you've heard of, then that's even more powerful proof.

      It would be seemingly pretty easy to claim the work of others in this field, or manipulate data, or plain out BS! Especially someone who is apt at writing copy, (even though not experienced), could put together a pretty convincing case for the job. How do you get verifiable proof?
      I've been a member of this forum since 2004 and I've seen/heard several "copywriters" who ripped off their clients. Believe me when I say that word got out really fast in Warrior Forum and even online from their unhappy clientele. It didn't take long until they were out of business. In many cases, they were banned from Warrior Forum as well.

      Copywriting is a field where your reputation is precious and great copywriters actively work to keep their positive reputation intact.

      I could say I made up the McDonalds color scheme, or just pick anything successful from online, and say I did that. Who has time to check this type of thing. I guess there is always an element of risk in business, what would you guys suggest? Ask for references?
      Who has time?

      Anyone who is serious about building their business does their due diligence before buying any product or hiring any freelance help, especially when they're spending thousands of dollars.

      Due diligence is the easiest way to reduce the amount of risk you may have to deal with.

      Yes, there's always an element of risk in business... just like everything else in life too.

      I've been self-employed in a variety of businesses for 20 years now and part of my "secrets to success" is to always do my due diligence, minimize risks where I can, and cut losses fast.

      Hope that helps,

      Mike
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  • Profile picture of the author BrianMcLeod
    One more thing, Kurt (and future Kurts reading this)

    Don't let phantom fears drive the process... you'll make yourself and whoever you hire miserable.

    It's easy to conjure up all the diabolical ways a sinister copywriter might try to "trick you" into paying them, then shank you.

    As Mike said above - that's career suicide.

    And something admittedly arrogant but absolutely true - when you start talking to a copywriter who's actually worth hiring, you're probably being sized up, too. Just sayin'...

    A prospective client with zero affiliate support, who doesn't buy any traffic, and has no list is not all that compelling of an opportunity. Really.

    Who wants to accept a big knot of money from somebody knowing there's a snowball's chance in hell they'll ever earn back the fees? Not me. Not my peers.

    Almost the entirety of my (and their) business revolves around relationships and referrals between trusted colleagues.

    We don't trust cold leads anymore than you trust copywriters in your posts above.

    Trust me.

    Seriously though, talk to others and get referrals.

    Redirect your focus on how to WIN, instead of not losing.

    Best,

    Brian
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  • At the end of the day, results are all that matters.

    Look at their testimonials and their conversions figures in the past.

    What do their previous clients say about them?

    I know for a fact that there are some copy guys who charge $5k for sales messages that totally miss the mark all the time.

    They are just good at positioning and perception but they cannot sell to save their lives.

    In my opinion it helps if the copy guy has actually sold in the offline world.

    AWAI churns out tons of writers every year who are just that,,,,writers with no instinct for selling.

    But remember that sales copy is about 20% of the equation.

    Too many people think their success will stand or fall on the strength of their sales copy.

    make sure you have a hungry market, good positioning, a list etc.
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    "Peter Brennan is the real deal, In the first 12 hours we did $80k...and over $125k in the first week...if you want to be successful online, outsource your copywriting to Peter"
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    For 12 ways to sell more stuff to more people today...go to...www.peterbrennan.net
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  • Profile picture of the author shawnlebrun
    Bingo Brian, well said!

    One of the best things I've EVER done for my copy career is sock away a big enough chunk of money so I could literally be as picky and choosy as I wanted when working with clients.

    You're right Brian... a good copywriter will ask themselves "do I even WANT to work with this client"

    not always because the client might just be a jerk.... but also, you have to ask yourself if you're even the best choice for this client.

    in all that i do, it's never about me and trying to make money.

    it's always about "what will help this client out most? what will get this client where they want to be, quicker"

    and if i can't help them the best, or if i don't feel i'm the right one for the job, i have no problem in recommending someone else.

    i'd rather see the client succeed and kick butt rather than just earn a paycheck and see the client NOT get the best results.

    that's why having a large amount of money saved up is very powerful and confidence-boosting when it comes to client selection.

    it allows you to be selective in who you work with... and it's GREAT to be able to turn away any client, any time, just because you feel it won't be the best fit.

    I've been on both sides of the equation for a long time, both hiring copywriters in my business and also being a copywriter.

    and i can admit it, when i hired a lot of copywriters for my business early in 2002 and 2003, I would think of copywriters more like problems than assets.

    i'd think of them as costs rather than investments. so i know that happens.

    i just think it's hilarious when you can just FEEL certain clients think they hold the keys to your success... that they think if they hire you.... your life will be better.

    and then you come to find out they have a shitty product, no traffic, no list, etc.... and yet they're speaking to you as if you're an expense they're trying to minimize.

    so yeah, Brian, you're 100% right.

    the biggest piece of advice i give new writers is this: save up as much money as you can, fast, so you can be selective about who you work with.

    it's so damn powerful to be able to pick and choose who you want to work with, if anyone at all.
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  • Profile picture of the author Don Grace
    Agreed, Brian hit it on the head.

    And yes, ask for names. I don't name drop on this forum for privacy reasons, but when I talk with a prospect I show them letters containing proof of results and the fact I've worked with some of the biggest names in marketing that unless you're new, you would know instantly.

    Don't take this as arrogance, but having results and names like this allows me the freedom to pick and choose who I work with, if I choose to work with anyone at all.

    And to be honest, it's way beyond money for me these days. I build relationships and friendships with people. I work with people that know their stuff and have a blast in the process. It not only has to be profitable for everyone involved, but it has to be fun! (And ironically that's why I accepted a new client a few days ago because they met all of the above criteria)
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  • Profile picture of the author max5ty
    Originally Posted by Kurt@viewswin View Post

    Hey guys, I am not quite getting the whole concept of hiring a copywriter! I have read all the sticky's and a quite a bit online like gary halbert letters etc. I have noticed that on one end of the scale you get copywriters with a totally arrogant attitude, saying things like "i never advertise" or "you can't get a real copywriter for under 5k per job." However then you see in the warriors for hire section people advertising for work as a copywriter. In these ads they also quite often behave arrogantly. It seems to me that this behavior is really just copywriting for themselves. It works too because you think, well if this guy/girl says I can't even hire them, then I want to hire them...BUT they are paying $40 for the advertisement so that someone will hire them, (presumably). So, my question or problem is, if i put a job in the warrior wanted section asking for a copywriter and offer a reasonable pay, then how do I select the best person for the job. Is it the guy/girl who writes to me saying that he/she is so good that I can't hire him/her anyway, however email them for a quote? Or do you take a bit of a risk and hire the person who seems legit, however is coming in way under the 5K mark in their advertisements. Where do the experts get their start, presumably the don't just say "i'm a copywriter so therefore you must pay me 5-10K for an email copy," they must start somewhere, and I would imagine this would be doing the same job for 500-1000 dollars, and then moving up.

    Also, how are you supposed to choose which person is the right person for the job, if they are all good at writing copy, they can all presumably write an email telling you that they are the right person for the job. AND, apparently the good ones don't have time to respond other than a few sentences, so...do you hire the one who doesn't respond well? ARGH!

    This post is not meant to annoy anyone by the way, it is an honest question. I don't think anyone is really arrogant, I just think this is a copywriting tactic for selling themselves.

    Thanks for any suggestions/comments
    First problem is...you're dealing with the internet and all the big dreams of fortune that come with it...which means you also have those who have decided to become copywriters to cash in on those with big dreams.

    So here's the criteria I'd suggest (pay should be according to the stage they fall into).

    Beginner:

    1. Someone who's actually ever had a real job.

    2. Someone who can spell copywriter correctly.

    3. No guarantees.

    4. Drives a beat up yugo.

    More advanced:

    1. Someone who's actually written for clients and isn't hiding behind the excuse they can't tell you who their clients were/are...or share any past work with you. BS.

    2. Someone who's actually sold their own product with a good degree of success.

    3. Probably will be looking for residuals.

    4. Has moved up to a Chevy.

    More advanced:

    1. A copywriter that's actually owned a real life business and ran it successfully.

    2. A copywriter that is also a whiz at marketing.

    3. Will offer you a money back guarantee.

    4. Probably drives a Mercedes.

    Most advanced:

    1. Doesn't matter because they're always booked up with past clients and all their business is strictly referral.

    2. Probably drives a Bentley.

    Hope that helps.
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  • Profile picture of the author sethczerepak
    First, look for testimonials from credible people. I have an endorsement from Dan Kennedy and can honestly say that it's worth more than all my other testimonials combined just because people know that Dan knows what he's talking about and that he doesn't BS people. You can't fake a good testimonial or endorsement from a credible person, so that's the first thing to look for.

    Second, look for sales experience, not just copywriting skills. I've yet to meet a good copywriter who didn't have sales experience. It's more about selling than it is about writing. If the person has never held a sales job in their life before becoming a copywriter, find someone else.

    Finally, ask them to lower their rate and see how they respond. A copywriter who caves on their rate right away is surely not worth it and they know it. If they hold the rate, they have strong endorsements backing them up and if they have sales experience, you're 99% sure to have a winner. Just keep in mind that even the best copywriters can't turn trash into treasure.

    You need a strong USP strategy, a good offer and you need qualified traffic and a decent head on your shoulders when it comes to deciding how to invest money. Great copywriting can sell a good and well positioned product to the right target market pretty damn easy, but if the copy is great and the other variables suck, sales are going to suck.

    Good luck with it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jonwebb
    asking copywriters about hiring copywriters is like asking a karate expert which style is best...

    Price is relative to what you can afford. If you can afford 5k then pay 5k. If you can only afford only 200 then pay 200.

    My advice? Find a cw who will work on spec, from there get it critized ether here or somewhere else. If its good pay him what you agreed upon if not move on.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kurt@viewswin
    Thanks everyone, clear as mud! Jokes, no thanks for taking the time to reply. What everyone is saying is commonsense really. However it seems that hiring from this forum is a good idea, as you can sort of check reputation. I mean as opposed to just googling copywriter and taking a punt.
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  • Profile picture of the author AndrewCavanagh
    One thing no one has mentioned is hiring a copywriter who has
    worked in the same niche as your product or a closely related
    one.

    Matching your sales copy to your prospects effectively is very
    important.

    Also making sure your copywriting budget makes sense.

    If you're going to put down $5,000 to hire a copywriter then you
    want to know exactly where you're getting the traffic from to
    your sales letter, how much you can get and how much it's
    going to cost you.

    In other words you want to be sure you're going to actually make a
    profit from your sales letter.

    Some honest copywriters will only work with clients when they're fairly
    certain the client will make a substantial profit over the fees they charge.

    That usually means we're working with marketers who've hired copywriters
    before, have lists and know how to drive traffic in various ways.

    Unfortunately there are plenty of copywriters who will just take your
    money regardless and just don't care about how you do at all.

    So really knowing how you're going to drive traffic and make real
    profits from your sales letter is important.


    Finally price range is not enough in working out the quality of a
    copywriter. Nor is looking at adornments like the car they drive
    or the house they live in.

    I know many millionaires living in modest 3 bedroom houses driving
    inexpensive cars.

    They became millionaires because they understand the value of
    cash reserves and the danger of high overheads in business and in
    their lifestyle.

    I've seen a lot of really average and even crappy copy written in
    the $5,000+ price range.

    What you really want is a copywriter whose samples are great, who
    has worked in your niche and preferably who has some great marketing
    skill too (with most of my clients I've usually helped the client make
    more in profits than my fee just from suggesting changes in their
    marketing process...I know there are many other copywriters who are
    the same).

    And don't be afraid to contact any references or past clients.

    You're putting down some serious money on this and you want to make
    sure you get some kind of return.

    Kindest regards,
    Andrew Cavanagh
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