2 immutable rules for finding a professional copywriter

how to find a copywriterIt’s not easy to find a good copywriter, especially someone who has real expertise and experience with direct mail or direct marketing.

I can’t even begin to count the number of calls and emails I’ve received from people who have said they’ve been looking for a while and can’t find many people who seem professional and credible.

That may seem surprising. A decade or two ago, there were few copywriters out there. Today there are thousands. You’d think you could throw a rock out your window and hit 5 pro copywriters without aiming.

But the truth is, the number of truly good copywriters hasn’t increased significantly.

Why? Because it’s like any other field. It’s just not as easy as it looks. Finding a reliable copywriter is like finding a great brain surgeon.

So at the risk of appearing self-serving, I’d like to share a short guide to finding and working with a professional direct marketing copywriter. I wrote this years ago, but it’s just as relevant today. I’m told by many people that it’s been quite helpful.

And for the record, I’m not always the best copywriter for everyone. In fact, I turn down far more clients than I take on. I may not have the right expertise. I may be too expensive. And these days, I am often too busy.

But if you’re looking, follow these two rules to find the writer who’s right for you.


It’s important for you to have a reliable copywriter on-call. If you don’t, an urgent project will suddenly appear out of nowhere (as always), and you’ll have to scramble to find someone at the last minute.

Sometimes that works. Sometimes it doesn’t. In fact, making a hasty decision on something as important as copywriting could be a disastrous waste of your money and time!

Remember, the time to choose a copywriter is before you need one. So here are two simple rules and lots of tips that will help you find and work with the right copywriter.

RULE #1: Hire a PROFESSIONAL copywriter.

There are plenty of copywriters out there willing to write your copy and take your money. But if you want professional results, don’t settle for part-timers, moonlighters, and writers between jobs.

Do you go to a “part-time” doctor? Would you hire a “moonlight” lawyer? Of course not. You want someone with the skill and attention your project deserves.

Here’s how to find one:

RULE #2: Treat a pro like a pro.

Once you find someone you can work with, be sure to develop and maintain a good long-term relationship. True professionals are almost always busy and in-demand, so they don’t have to put up with unprofessional behavior on your part.

Here are a few hints to keep your writer happy and make your working relationship smooth as silk:

A professional copywriter is an important asset. A pro can provide copy and counsel that will not only help sell products and services, but will also make your marketing projects (and your life) a lot easier. So take the time to find the right copywriter. It’s worth it.

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4 Responses to “2 immutable rules for finding a professional copywriter”

  1. Matt Trifiro (SVP Marketing, Assistly) on May 12th, 2011 10:05 am

    Well done. Elite copywriters are a breed apart. Anybody looking to hire a writer should read this post.

  2. Ted Grigg on May 16th, 2011 6:19 pm

    I’ve found that I can negotiate better rates if I offer the freelancer 50% up front. That is what I get from my clients.

    And once I have a payment history and a good relationship with the writer or artist, then they tend to give me preferential treatment.

    What really wins the day though is treating other professionals as I expect to be treated. This engenders trust. Once we have that, then the work becomes fun.

    Writers especially appreciate good input in the form of a creative brief.

    A well written and complete creative brief saves time and gives my clients the best work possible.

    It’s a team effort.

    An experienced and talented marketer who guides the writer with what he needs makes the writing process easier, more productive and assures winning copy.

    The challenge today is that professional fees have experienced downward pressure with the grater availability of truly great freelancers. The economy has also had a negative impact.

    The days of paying $15,000 to $30,000 for a direct mail package are no longer necessary in my opinion.

    I hope I didn’t step on any toes with this statement. But such fees are much rarer than they used to be.

    Dean, I have no idea what your fees are. But I am certain that your fees are reasonable and well worth the expense.

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