the blog

Three Costly Mistakes Marketers Make When Hiring a Copywriter

Three Costly Mistakes Marketers Make When Hiring a Copywriter


Great copywriters do exist, and they really can make your projects more effective and your life easier. But finding a good one… well, that can be headache-inducing. And engaging a not-so-good one? Massively expensive:

  • Ever had to completely re-write something you paid someone else to put together?
  • Wasted your precious time trying to catch up with a writer who’s flaked out on you?
  • Released written content into the marketplace and only THEN realized how much it stinks? Ouch.

Unless you enjoy wasting time and resources on less-than-optimal partnerships with a writer, check that you’re not making one of these three common mistakes other marketers are making:

They Ignore What the Writer’s Fee is Trying to Say…

Of course it’s tempting to look for a low hourly rate or a project quote that leaves a little wiggle room in the budget for other things. And in a marketplace glutted with students, young graduates, and out-of-work professionals, it’s no surprise that you can find writers willing to work for 10 cents a  word or less.

But here’s what that super cheap price tag is saying, if you know how to listen:

  • My work kind of stinks, so I can’t charge much for it.
  • I am from developing nation where English not first speaking.
  • I’m pushing out hundreds of pieces almost exactly like yours (literally, almost word for word) every day!
  • I copy and paste from Internet sources. But don’t worry, I change a few words here and there, so it’s not plagiarizing!

Above this level, you’ll find writers willing to work for $25 or $35 an hour. While this is certainly a better sign than 10 cents a word, it still has some things to tell you:

  • I haven’t figured out yet that after Uncle Sam takes out my self-employment taxes, the hours I spend generating leads and making sales, and my general business expenses, $25 is less than minimum wage. But I’ll figure it out after I get a little more experience under my belt.
  • I don’t mind not making a living wage–it’s only part-time anyway. I’m sure you’ll understand when things get busy and I have to turn it in late.
  • I’m just getting started and I’m eager to work hard and earn my reputation so I can start charging a more reasonable fee. You’ll probably ask me to re-write the piece six or seven times anyway, so ultimately I’ll make enough to pay my bills.

Occasionally, you may find a writer who charges very little and is an exceptionally good match for your company. If you already have one, hang on to her. If you don’t already have one, you can spend a lot of time looking for one but it’s probably going to cost you more in the long run.

So what should you expect to pay? If you’re looking for a highly experienced, talented writer with appropriate content marketing skill sets, you should expect to pay above $100 an hour. For enterprise-level quality, talent, and experience, $120-$150 an hour is standard. At this level, you may also expect to pay a project fee rather than an hourly fee.

Of course, a higher rate is not a guarantee of better quality. Check that you’re not making one of the other two common mistakes.

They Think that Journalism and Copywriting Require Essentially the Same Skills…

Sure, there’s some overlap between the two industries. Writers in both require strong writing, interviewing, and storytelling skills in order to succeed. But there are also some significant differences that mean hiring a former journalist may not be all it’s cracked up to be.

  • Journalism requires a certain hard-nosed approach to “truth” that can be challenging for a journalist to let go of in the marketing environment, which calls for a softer touch.
  • Marketing requires a clear understanding of the psychology of selling–a skill that is not always acquired in journalism environments.
  • A great marketing writer understands buy/sell cycles, and how to create content for each stage to encourage the type of action desired. Again–not a skill most journalists come to the table with.
  • Business experience and strategic understanding of marketing plans and the role of content in them is critical to great copywriting. Very few journalists begin their marketing career with these essentials.

Now, don’t get us wrong. We love journalists. We have journalists on our team. We think many journalists can make the transition to marketing writing and become truly exceptional copywriters. And we also know that a journalism background alone is not enough.

With those two marked off your list, let’s take a look at this one last, critical mistake many marketers are making.

They Under-Allocate Resources to This One Key Thing…

Writing great copy requires much more than just an ability to put nice-sounding words on paper. A great copywriter can quickly grasp the business and marketing goals for a piece, see how it fits into the overall plan, and craft copy that connects and engages with the right audience. A copywriter’s work operates on the front lines of your marketing and sales efforts. His work directly impacts click-through rates, customer engagement, brand loyalty, lead generation, and sales effectiveness.

So why do so many marketers think hiring a writer should be simple?

It’s not.

Finding a great copywriter who will be an asset to your business requires due diligence, care, and attention. Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone.

We’ve created a guide book to help you through the process of teaming up with a copywriter who will be a true asset to your marketing team. The Savvy Marketer’s Guide to Hiring a Copywriter takes you step by step through the process of finding, vetting, and selecting the copywriters that will help your company shine.

Download Your Free Copy Right Now.

Download Button


Fen Druadìn Head (formerly Heather Head) is an author, as well as the founder of Scopcity. When she is not writing, running the business, or chasing down bad guys on Twitter, she enjoys hiking, snuggling with her husband and three boys, and avoiding the kitchen.

View by Category