How to Hire a Wordsmith and Get Your Money’s Worth


You run a business or manage a department. Your plate is full, you don’t have time to write brochure copy, freshen your Web site’s content or getting that newsletter article off your desk. Engaging a freelance business writer, a professional “wordsmith” to do your writing will leave you free to do your important job – managing the business. But how do you find that writer who is a fit, and what should you look for when interviewing that person? And what do you do after you’ve “signed on the dotted line?” Here are some tips from a professional writer to help make the process run smoothly.


First off decide why you need a writer

Are you looking for a fresh take on copy? A new perspective on the “voice” of your materials? A rewrite of old, tired copy? Are you planning to launch a website and even though you have the content, need it to be repurposed for the web? Also, are you looking for copy for one media use or will it be used across the board for many different media. Will this be a one shot deal or would you like to have the writer work on a series of projects.


Writers specialize, however some are broader in what projects they will take on. For example, you don’t want to waste time, yours and theirs, interviewing a writer who is great at doing website copy but who is weak with creating zingy ad lines if what you need is a well written ad!


What to look for in a writer 

Even if the individual came to you through a referral, always ask to see samples of their work. Ask for samples that most closely match the type of project(s) for which you will need this writer. Look through their resume, website, and note for any misspellings or grammatical errors. As humans we are all error prone, but when it comes to ones’ promotional materials, (especially those that have been around for a while) they are an indication of sloppiness!


Also ask questions about how the person deals with deadlines, problems, disasters. As you know, no project is without its trials and tribulations. Ask how they deal with managing a project and if you have a deadline, if they can give this project enough time to meet your deadline.


To make this a “fit” it’s more than about the writer’s rates, or even their portfolio. It’s about YOUR needs and YOUR style of working. If you don’t have much time to lead a writer through what your business is about, you need an individual who is good with doing their own research. If your project needs graphics, will you be able to provide the graphic artist or would a writer who “partners” with one make your life easier? Lastly, gently probe how egotistic the writer is about “his” work. Even though you have the project scope defined, it is your right to ask for the work to be what you want and need, not what the writer wants!


After you’ve “signed on the dotted line” 

Now that you have engaged a freelance writer who you feel is a fit, there are a few things you can do to keep the relationship working on both ends.


This article will not get in to contracts, pricing etc., but I would like to briefly mention that having the project scope written down and signed off on, is the only way to keep things from getting out of hand. This can be done simply through e-mails, or more structured through formal contracts. This protects both parties from misunderstandings as to deliverables, what to do if extra work is needed, and payments.


Your time is import and so is your writer’s. So stay in touch and answer promptly any questions (one of my pet peeves is working on a project, needing information or answers, and having to put it all on hold because the client takes days to respond).


The purpose of writing is to create clear concise copy to sell your business, your image, your products or your services. The right words can help your message stand out and be noticed rather than being overlooked. Writers can lend an objective perspective and craft the right message for maximum results. Copywriting can be a powerful tool in your marketing arsenal. Engage a wordsmith that is a “fit”, one you can depend on time after time to produce great copy that sells, and you will reap these benefits and avoid headaches in the deal.


Leona not only has 12+ years experience in writing copy but she also knows how to ask a client the “write” questions in order to keep a project on time and on budget.  Beyond Words Communications can help you get that message out!  For help with all your writing needs, e-mail me at Beyond-Words@worldnet.att.net


                                                                  © 2008 Leona M Seufert