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Three Surprising Qualities To Look For in a Copywriter

Three Surprising Qualities To Look For in a Copywriter


Bringing a writer in to work with your clients is a big decision. A good content partner can free you up to focus on the big picture. Or create more problems than it solves.

Unfortunately, choosing the right writer is not as simple as choosing a good writer. Consider these questions for a start:

  • Will the copywriter understand the client’s business? The market personas? The initiative’s goals?
  • Will she deliver on time so you can deliver on time?
  • Present herself professionally and make you look good in front of the client? Or say something untimely and create friction?
  • Steal your clients? (Yikes–unlikely, but she might try if you haven’t done due diligence on her.)
  • Think outside the box to uncover valuable ideas and opportunities?
  • Go the extra mile to deliver true value?
  • Provide useful strategic support and leadership during client meetings?
  • Lead powerfully productive content planning sessions that support your goals?

A basic background check via LinkedIn and shared connections plus a look at the writer’s portfolio is only the beginning. Here are three essential qualities you may not have considered–but that you definitely want–in a copywriter:

Entrepreneurial Attitude

A writer with an entrepreneurial attitude will be constantly thinking about how to deliver more with less, where to provide true value in the service, and will automatically go the extra mile to have the client’s back. This is someone you want on your team. Look for three or more of these:

  • An active LinkedIn and/or social media presence,
  • A solid personal or professional website (or both) with good content (design is unimportant),
  • A history of voluntary entrepreneurial attempts, successful or not (it’s the intent and drive that matters),
  • An active understanding of the pains and challenges of running a business,
  • Great follow-up and follow-through during the selection process.

Leadership Ability

The Writer LeaderThe stereotypical reclusive writer simply won’t do. Leadership ability means she can stand in front of a group of client company principals and confidently guide them through a content planning session. It means she will ask the hard questions that lead to valuable insights, and won’t shy from telling it straight when the client is off track. It means she can do this with confidence and finesse. It also means she can control the session, make good use of the client’s time, and get done what needs to be done in the allotted amount of time. When meeting or talking on the phone, expect:

  • Confidence and finesse in leading the conversation.
  • Taking charge to ensure you cover the desired topics in the allotted time.
  • Clearly articulated next steps.
  • Experience in leading and/or presenting to groups.

Listening Skill 

Many writers know how to talk up a storm. Fewer know how to ask good questions and then shut up and listen. This ability is absolutely critical in developing targeted content. When you interview a copywriter, try this:

  • Listen carefully to the questions she asks, more than to answers she gives. Does she demonstrate curiosity, intelligence, and understanding of basic business and marketing practices?
  • Pay attention to how well and how long she listens to the answers. Is she rushing on to the next question, or is she comfortable waiting for the answer to unfold? Listening well and attentively is key to understanding the client and delivering well.

If you’ve interviewed the candidate and she passes with flying colors, then you’ve probably found a great partner. If not, move on. Good content partners are out there.

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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.

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