People often think that if someone can write, they can write copy. That may be true in some cases, but not the majority. Just because someone can drive a car, you wouldn’t expect them to be an F1 driver. Of course not, and copywriting is no different.
What you think you need
Companies looking to hire a copywriter will have a list of the critical skills they think the person should possess. These typically include:
Creative writing skills
Good grasp of the English language and grammar
Great attention to detail
Excellent researching skills
Ability to understand the audience
Of course, I don’t disagree with these, and they’re certainly what I’d have included in a job spec in the past if I were looking to hire someone. But I think, in reality, these are ordinary skills of a copywriter. You don’t want a standard copywriter; you really want a good, if not great, copywriter.
So what should you really look for?
Although I’ve only been a freelance copywriter for a short period, I’m learning more and more each day about the profession. These are just some traits I think are at the heart of a good copywriter.
Inquisitive – There’s a difference between being nosy and being inquisitive. Copywriters need to be curious and ask questions that will help us understand your company, target audience, and your goals so we can create unique and persuasive copy.
Reliable – If we say we’ll write something by Friday, we’ll do it. As freelance copywriters, we can’t afford to miss deadlines, it’s bad for our reputation, and you won’t hire us again.
Writes in simple terms – A good copywriter needs to be able to translate technical and corporate jargon into simple copy that’s easy to read and clear to understand. And, of course, encourages the reader to take the necessary action.
Creativity – It goes without saying that we need to be creative. A copywriter will respond to your brief, but a good copywriter will bring fresh ideas. You may not like them, but they could generate other ideas you like.
Empathy – Copywriters need to connect with your target audience and understand their problems, what they want, and what they need. Empathising with your audience and putting ourselves in their shoes allows us to write copy that connects with your customers.
Letting go – Perfection isn’t everything. We want to produce quality content, but we also need to understand when to let go. Copywriters can always find things to tweak or re-write, but a good copywriter knows when to accept that the copy is fine and good enough to submit.
Humour – Life as a freelance copywriter can be tough, so we need to have a good sense of humour. But humour is also an excellent tool when writing good copy. A good copywriter will know when to use humour to bring personality to your brand and create copy that people connect with and remember.
Next time you hire a freelance copywriter
There’s more to being a good copywriter than being able to write.
Good freelance copywriters are constantly learning, developing their skills, and keeping up to date with the latest marketing trends, industry issues, influencers, and digital developments. This helps them to write copy that sells your products and services in a language your audience relates to.
So next time you look to hire a freelance copywriter, dig down a bit deeper and don’t just look at whether they can write a punchy headline or a product description.
Want to discuss a copywriting project? Get in touch, and we can start the conversation.