Copywriter Onboarding: Insider Tips For First-Timers

An inside look at how to hire a copywriter and typical onboarding steps.

Hire a copywriter: An inside look at the freelance copywriter hiring process including steps, typical questions, and what to expect before, during, and after you hire a copywriter.

How to hire a copywriter: Reminders for first-timers

Congratulations: After a long and dizzying search, you’ve finally found the best freelance copywriter for hire for your brand. Phew! ?‍? But wait—we’re not done yet. Before you sign on the dotted line, let’s make sure you have (and know) everything you need to get started.

Have you seen samples?

What’s one way to know if you and the prospective freelance copywriter for hire are a good fit? The answer: See examples of her writing. Here are a few ways you can go about it.

  • Ask your copywriter for her portfolio/samples. This approach is at no additional cost to you but keep in mind that the copywriter may be limited in what they can share with you, especially if clients have not given express permission for their assets to be included in a portfolio.
  • “Go for a test drive” by commissioning a small project with the copywriter. You may or may not have to pay for it (depending on the copywriter) but the major plus in this scenario is you get a tailor-made sample developed according to your guidelines. This way, you can see if the copywriter is capable of delivering what you want. If you were to ask me, this is the option I would recommend. You’ll also be getting a head start with the copywriter onboarding process.
  • If you want to be extra thorough in vetting your copywriter, go ahead and ask for both of the above!

Is the copywriter available?

Whether you have a fixed deadline or not, it’s always a good idea to double check your copywriter’s schedule. Why? Because you want to make sure that the copywriter’s lead time works with whatever you have planned in your marketing calendar. This is a particularly crucial step if yours is a rush project. Speaking of which, don’t beat around the bush—let the copywriter know that yours is an urgent project ASAP.

Tip: Don’t leave hiring a freelance copywriter to the last minute! Start the search for a trusted copywriter early enough, so that you can enjoy greater freedom and flexibility in finding the right person for the job.

Have you received a quote?

It doesn’t have to be said but before you give the green light for a project, always ask for a quote so that you can budget accordingly. (Hey, you’d hate to hire a copywriter and then struggle to pay off the bill later. ?) If you have any questions about what’s included and what’s not as well as how that quote could potentially change, now is the time to discuss them with your copywriter.

By the way, how much does it cost to hire a copywriter?

I’ve covered copywriting costs in another post but if you don’t have time for that, here’s a quick summary:

  • Copywriters charge by the word, by the hour, or by project. That is, a fixed-price contract. Whatever their chosen pricing model, the copywriter should be clear about it in the quote.
  • Blogging rates, website copywriter rates, email writing costs etc come down to multiple factors:
    • Project type: What do you need?
    • Complexity: Is it highly technical in nature? How much research will be involved?
    • Size and scope: Length, word count, or number of pages—how big is the project?
    • Quantity: How many projects are you commissioning at this time?
    • Urgency: Are we on a tight deadline?

Tip: Unless yours is truly just a one-off project, consider the potential for a long-term arrangement with your content writer. This has several benefits:

  • Consistency: Your marketing copy will retain the same voice and style across all platforms.
  • Familiarity: The more content your copywriter develops for you, the more familiar she becomes with your standards and expectations plus what you’re looking for. This cannot be underestimated as it saves you time and money. Think about it: You won’t have to go through the hiring and onboarding process all over again!
  • Better rates: If you hire a copywriter for multiple projects, say 4 blog posts (instead of one) or monthly email campaigns for the next 6 months, then you’re in a better position to negotiate copywriting costs. On the flip side, your freelance content writer will also be more willing to extend a discount or let you in on package offers. It’s a win-win situation.
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Are you familiar with the copywriter’s payment terms and conditions?

Ask the freelance copywriter for hire about how payments should be made. This includes:

  • Payment method: How should you remit payment to the copywriter? Options can include direct-to-bank, wire transfer, credit card, Venmo, PayPal, money transfer services, etc.
  • Payment terms: When do you have to make those payments? Are there penalties for paying late? Are there surcharge fees for rush projects?

What are the different payment models? And do all copywriters ask for a deposit?

Frankly, it depends on the content writer. But the most common approach is to require advance payment of some sort. This is standard practice and should not worry you.

There’s also what’s known as the retainer system in which you pay a fixed fee to keep a copywriter on board for a certain volume of work every month.

What will your method of communication be?

Last but not least, ask your copywriter about the best way to keep in touch throughout the copywriting process. Will you be communicating by email? Can you call your copywriter? What about messaging apps like WhatsApp, Viber, LINE, or Telegram? Get her contact details and add her on the relevant channels.

Thinking about hiring me for your next copywriting project? That’s music to my ears! Here’s where you can get to know me a bit better. This is where you can find answers to some of your FAQs. And here is where you can send me an email for a no-obligation quote. I can’t wait to hear from you! ?

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Hiring a freelance copywriter? These are typical steps in the onboarding process

So, you’ve successfully worked your way through the reminders listed above. ? You’re happy and raring to go! But wait, where do you go? How do you officially hire a freelance copywriter? And then what happens next?

Here’s an overview of the online onboarding process to help you find your bearings.

Caveat: This onboarding process checklist for freelance copywriters for hire is just a guide—copywriters have their own preferences. The onboarding process for gig platform copywriters and agencies may differ.

1️ Contract signing

The first step of the copywriter onboarding process is all about making things official. In other words, it’s time to sign the copywriter’s contract. This document outlines the terms and conditions of your working relationship. You may also ask your copywriter to sign a non-disclosure agreement if needed.

2️ Payment

Next, it’s time to settle the advance payment—if any. The billing terms will have been carefully outlined in the contract, so all you have to do is follow those instructions. Keep in mind that your copywriter won’t start working until you’ve made the necessary down payment.

Tip: Don’t forget to send your freelance copywriter proof that you’ve already posted the deposit.

3️ In-depth project briefing

Now the real conversation begins! ? Heads up: Expect a ton of questions.

At this stage of the copywriter onboarding process, the copywriter will put in every effort to get to know you, your brand, and your project-specific needs. This will be done via questionnaire, email, call, or all the aforementioned depending on the complexity of your project. Already prepared a creative brief? Great! Send that to your copywriter right away.

Tip: The quality of your copy depends on the quality of your answers, so take those questions seriously.

What should you include in a copywriting creative brief?

Among other things, a great copywriting brief outlines what kind of work you need; explains what your business/brand is all about; introduces your products and services; explains your vision regarding tone and voice; and talks about specific project goals. These are just some of the basics of what your copywriter needs to write effective copy.

4️ The writing begins

Once your copywriter has all the information she needs to put pen to paper, she can finally start writing. Yay!

Tip: How frequently you communicate throughout the copywriting process will depend on both your preferences. Keep in mind that constant interruptions and follow-up emails tend to be a (stressful) distraction that can ruin the writer’s flow. Check in on your copywriter but it’s always recommended to respect your writer’s “process”.

5️ The feedback loop (and final payment)

The final step is going over your deliverables. This is where you share your project feedback—thoughts, opinions, suggestions, concerns—with the copywriter. She’ll take all those comments into account and make revisions as required. With your project completed, all that’s left is to make your final payment(s) as agreed in the contract.

And that’s it! If you still have some unanswered questions about copywriter onboarding, head on over here for more information, more insight, and more tips you won’t find anywhere else.

Want to get on a call with me about your project? Drop me an email and let’s schedule your FREE consultation now! Talk soon.