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5 Questions to Ask Before You Hire A Copywriter

We’re going to be talking about marketing every Thursday leading up to Fall/Winter 2013. I get lots of questions about lingerie marketing and mostly answer them by email, but if there’s a specific question you would like answered as part of these Thursday posts feel free to leave it in the comments!

However, I felt like to be a responsible advertising professional I had to start with the basics. The internet is a huge place and anyone can put up a great looking website and claim to have “advertising experience”. I don’t want to burst your bubble, but before you go out and hire anyone to help you with your business you need to ask them some simple questions to protect yourself. I’ve had so many clients come to me after having had bad experiences and it just breaks my heart. This applies to copywriters, but it also applies more generally to programmers, graphic designers or anyone else you are contemplating hiring to help with your lingerie business.

Today I’m providing of questions that you should always ask someone before you hire them, along with the reasons why. 

1. What experience do you have in this industry?
Lots of copywriters are willing to talk about generic “years of experience” but a real copywriter should be willing to give you the specifics. Frequently, they’ll be able to give you outside proof via awards, praise by industry insiders or just examples of past campaigns that they have worked on. They won’t be able to tell you everything due to non-disclosure agreements, but you should be able to get a sense of a real work history rather than a made up one. Professional copywriters also record their metrics for various clients and can show those to you even with all of the identifying information taken out.

2. Can I talk with some references?
Testimonials are a staple of any service provider’s website but they aren’t always true. Some copywriters write testimonials for clients and have them sign off on them and some less scrupulous people just make them up wholesale. This is one of the reasons I have my clients write their own and always use their real name and website. However, you shouldn’t hire anyone without asking to talk to some current or past clients. Again, due to non-disclosure agreements they may not be able to reveal everyone, but you’ll be able to talk to enough real people to get a sense of things. I always offer to put new clients in touch with past clients without any interference on my part.

3. What’s your contract process like?
Experienced service providers don’t work without contracts. Everyone has a long list of the ways they’ve been burned and no one wants to repeat the experience. Contracts aren’t punitive, but they do spell out things like non-disclosure agreements, payment dates, legal ways for both parties to end the contract, number of revisions, job schedule, etc. All of these things are incredibly important. Copywriters should be open and upfront about their contract and payment processes and what services they use to complete the process.

4. How do you accept payment?
Most services providers offer multiple methods of payment and some may be picker than others. For instance, I now only take checks or wire transfers, while other people are comfortable with Paypal or other online billing services. Make sure you know how the payment system is set up so you aren’t surprised later on in the process.

5. What’s the next step?
Many copywriters have a standard form they will have you fill out to get to know you and your business. Many (myself included) will also want to have a phone call or a Skype session with you to get to know you better. Again, if someone says that you’ll hear back from them in two weeks and it will magically be done, you may want to be a little suspicious.

Next week we’ll cover a more fun topic, I promise. However, I do think an educated client is the best client, so I hope this list helps you in the future. In the meantime, leave all your lingerie copywriting questions in the comments for me!

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