What you should look for when hiring a copywriter

What you should look for when hiring a copywriter

Rosie Hayes

Rosie Hayes
30th January 2018

Businesses increasingly need the assistance of authentically talented copywriters to achieve their goals, whether this is through permanent in-house staff additions or freelance contributions. Either way, it can be difficult to ascertain the best candidates if you’re not sure what you should be looking for. This article will help you to decipher the type of person capable of writing the best work according to your aims.

‘Copywriting’ is a vast blanket term that encapsulates a range of writing specialisms. Copywriters can have various areas of expertise including:

  • Marketing materials
  • Advertising
  • Websites
  • SEO (search engine optimisation)
  • Public relations (PR)
  • B2B
  • B2C

The repertoire of certain copywriters may single in on one of these skills alone, or by contrast offer their services across the board. Smaller companies might require skilfully adaptable writers who can apply their writing prowess well enough to a range of outputs, acting as a jack of all trades. Larger companies, or companies looking to achieve specific goals, might on the other hand require a writer who is solidly experienced and committed to a certain type of writing only. Whatever skill set you need for whatever function, you’ll find evidence in your candidates’ oeuvre.

All copywriters will have portfolio samples, and reviewing these will enable you to measure the extent to which their skills and talents match your requirements. From this point, you can apply proper discernment to the hiring process.

Experience level

This is discretionary depending on your needs and requirements. Bear in mind that experienced writers are unlikely to reduce their prices, so if you’re a small business with a low budget it may be preferable to choose a less experienced candidate. However, if you have a clear goal and the budget to spend, you may seek out a writer who’s had a long involvement in the field. Trust and expectation are also thrown into the mix here, so if you’re sceptical and not willing to take a risk on a newbie, a candidate with a packed portfolio might be a safer choice. If you don’t mind hiring a candidate with less experience but who shows potential, be sure to address your goals clearly when interviewing them. If they don’t have much of a portfolio to show, or their portfolio deviates slightly from what you need in the job description, it might be worth scheduling in time before the interview to set up a writing task for them.

Type of experience

This will be reflective of your job specification. If you are a smaller company, your writer will be an integral part of your business, so the job spec should be in complete alignment with the potential candidate’s experience. Depending on the above categories of copywriter that you are hiring for, from distinguishing these you will know what kind of work to look for in their portfolio. If you’re hiring for an SEO writer, you would be looking for concrete proof that they have delivered content that has led to greater visibility on search engines. For SEO however, having a solid grasp of grammar may be less of a concern.

If you’re hiring for a product description writer, you would look for someone who is able to write factual, pithy descriptors and keywords for items. For PR, you might look for someone with a journalistic background who has plenty of media contacts, or can write in a way that addresses key questions. Look at what you want from the job role, and see how this correlates with candidates’ portfolios. Do they have prior work that is similar to the work they will be expected to do?  When a writer is a key player in your business, you’ll have to ensure they have work that exhibits the skills essential to your company.

Look for a reader

It should go without saying, but all writers of any capacity should be avid readers. This doesn’t just apply to the vast erudition expected from a potential literary critic, even if a writer is focused on advertising content they should have a full grasp of the best writing out there on the topic. Or even if they read outside of their discipline, if they can show that they are well-read, you’re probably onto a winner. Author Stephen King famously quoted: “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” I concur.

Knowledge of your brand

Any potential hire should have a decent level of knowledge about your brand and its products and services. If they can demonstrate that they have done their research about your company, they can make their writing more tailored and thus effective. They should be able to spell the company name, service names, and product names, know who your key competitors are, and show familiarity with the industry they could be operating within.


What kind of a person do you want to hire? Ideally, you not only want to hire for skills but additionally for the betterment of your company culture. If your new hire is in-house this is even more significant. Engagement and interaction will be constantly required, so think about your existing company culture and the type of person that might fit well into it. If your company is small, this individual will become prominent in your business, thus it’s best to carefully consider demand and want.

Hiring a skilled writer can bring a renewed power to your brand, and since writing in its myriad forms is an intrinsic element in every business, its successful application is paramount. Hopefully these tips will help you to delve deeper into the requirements of your next writing hire, so that you can bolster your company with an individual who has formidable skills and who epitomises your company values.