Website Copywriter Hiring Guide & Top Freelancers By Niche

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As a website copywriter, I’m in a great spot to show you exactly what the process of launching or relaunching a successful site looks like. Should you engage with a website copywriter before or after a designer? Should you choose to work with an agency or instead manage individual freelancers and consultants? Should you attempt to do some of this in-house?

Your website is important. It sells your product or service. It delivers leads and demo requests to your sales team. It speaks for your entire company online 24/7. You need to get this right.

In this guide, I cover what your website copywriter should do, what they might not do, how to choose the right copywriter for your business, and best of all a directory with the top freelancers by niche.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

  • What does a website copywriter do?
  • What comes first in the website project, copywriting or design?
  • Should you work with an agency or freelancers?
  • How to choose the right website copywriter
  • Top freelancers by niche
  • The services your website copywriter should provide

What does a website copywriter do?

A website copywriter is responsible for turning your messaging strategy into clear, creative, and captivating words that will be used on your website to prompt your website visitors to take action. Depending on your business, the action could be to book a demo, start a free trial, sign up for your email newsletter, take your quiz, purchase a product, make a donation, or something else.

While there’s a whole lot of parts in this process, at the end of the day it all comes down to this.

Strategy and research –> words that will increase the efficacy of your website.

What comes first in the website project, copywriting or design?

There are so many things that business owners and marketers ask when they’re getting ready to hire a website copywriter, but one of the most frequent concerns is this: what comes first, copy or design? It’s the geeky marketing version of the chicken and egg problem.

But guess what, it really is a problem. If you get this wrong, then your website project will fail. If it doesn’t fail, it will at least frustrate and annoy all of the stakeholders.

Copy should lead design if…

  • There’s a story to tell – You might be thinking that there’s always a story to tell, but bear with me here. All great brands tell some sort of story with their marketing in general, but global consumer brands don’t often need to tell a story with their website. A life coach, however needs to tell a story that features their potential client as the hero. When copy comes first, it’s much easier to move through the problem solution narrative effectively.
  • Your company is B2B – Most B2B companies need to tell a story. Why? Because B2B companies solve problems. They help companies save money, make money, or save time (which is also money). For this reason, the vast majority of businesses are better off having copy lead design. This way, the copywriter can understand the before and after story of the customers and lay this out in the page, with all of the features and benefits that support this story.
  • It makes more sense to you that the copywriter will be doing the strategy work – You could also choose to have copy lead design if it simply makes more sense to you that the copywriter will be the one interviewing customers and researching your competitors. If you expect your copywriter to do this (as you should), then you wouldn’t want them to do all of this after the website designer has finalized layout, now would you? No you would not.

Design should lead copy if…

  • You’re selling ecommerce products – Ecommerce web designers and architects are often involved in a/b testing. They have experience building ecom sites and they know best practices for where things should go. With ecommerce, it usually makes more sense to have a skilled designer determine the site and page layout, and then for the website copywriter to fill in the lorem ipsum. This isn’t always true of course. Pricier ecommerce products (think golf clubs) might be better off with a copywriter leading the way. Again, it comes back to the story part and who should own layout.
  • Visually standing out in your market is the most important thing – If, for whatever reason, the most important thing to you is having a website that doesn’t look like any website anyone has every seen before, then the designer should lead.

What about collaborating?

Your website copywriter and your designer should of course collaborate in some sort of way (more on that in the services your website copywriter should provide and tips for managing freelancers).

However, at the end of the day someone has to do the site architecture and layout for all pages. Assuming your resources are distributed and not sitting down in an office together, it’s much easier if one person is doing this. The person who should lead site architecture and page layout should be the one with the most knowledge about best practices in your industry and the deepest understanding of what your customers want. As mentioned, this person is the copywriter in B2B, but for ecom products, the designer knows where customers expect certain buttons and site features to be.

Should you work with an agency or freelancers?

The agency versus freelancer debate is a complicated one. Especially when we consider that some freelancers would rather be called something that doesn’t sound like a couch potato, thank you very much.

The decision comes down to a few key factors:

  • Cost – Often, but not always, working with freelancers is more affordable simply because you or your in-house project manager are the ones doing the talent selection and project management. You’re not paying the agency to piece together the right people and make sure the project comes to fruition.
  • Expertise – This is likely the most important factor of all. Who do you feel is an expert in your business? Who can bring the most value to the table? You might assume an agency could deliver better than a freelancer, but that depends heavily on how well these creatives have niched down. If you hire an agency, they might have copywriters working on 20 different business types. The copywriter might not know a whole lot about your business. Meanwhile, a freelancer with a specific niche could be more valuable to you. Of course, there are niched agencies and unniched freelancers, but the problem is that unless your agency has a very clear company-wide niche, the level of expertise of the people assigned to your account is highly questionable.
  • Long term relationship – Individual agencies and freelancers all have different ways of working with their clients. Both can have packages or flat rates for ongoing work. But agencies might be less likely to small, quick projects in the future.

How to choose the right website copywriter

Choosing a copywriter is an important task. The reality is that most businesses don’t have know-how or capacity for a/b testing (even companies you assume would be a/b testing aren’t). This means that your website might stay relatively the same for 1 – 3 years. What do you want to say for the next year? You don’t know. That’s why you’re hiring a copywriter.

Make sure that your copywriter…

  • Has a portfolio that impresses you (and/or has a website that acts as an amazing portfolio piece)
  • Has a process that involves competitor research, customer research, SEO (if that’s important to you), and design collaboration
  • Has worked with companies that resemble yours in some way

If your budget is too low to work with someone who has verifiable experience, you might instead inquire about what courses and certifications they’ve got. You might also have to examine other writing samples, if they have experience with emails and blogs but not websites. In that case, look for clear, concise copy that holds your attention.

Top freelancers by niche

Here are some of the best freelancers you can hire to write your website. I’ll be adding to this over time, so if you want to nominate someone, you can use my contact form or send me a message on LinkedIn.

Ecommerce

Bobbie Maloy of Conversion Hacker – Bobbie is an experienced, data-driven copywriter for ecommerce companies and has an amazing case study to prove it.

SaaS

Dayana Mayfield – Dayana is responsible for increasing SaaS website conversions by as much as 500%.

Nonprofit

Allison Nazarian of Allison Media Group – Allison has years of experience working with nonprofits and helping them increase donations using the power of copywriting.

Coaching

Christina Torres – Christina is a creative and passionate copywriter for coaches and creative CEOs.

The services your website copywriter should provide

What should your website copywriter do?

While not all professional copywriters will offer these components as part of their service, many of them do.

  • Research – This can include competitor research, customer research in the form of surveys, interviews, and reading your reviews, and market research (educating themselves on your market via blogs and podcasts).
  • SEO – Your copywriter should retain your current search rankings, and choose new keyphrases for other core pages. You’d be surprised, but many copywriters will just rewrite a website without checking what it is currently ranking for. Then, when the website goes live, suddenly it loses all of its search traffic!
  • Design concepts – Not all copywriters do this, so beware! It’s super helpful when copywriters include design concepts, potential icon types, illustration ideas, or screenshot ideas along with the text. This can simply be notes and descriptions about what they imagine going there. A skilled designer could one-up your copywriter and come up with something better, but at least they have somewhere to begin and they understand what your copywriter is going for.
  • Wireframing or copyframingWireframing is time consuming, which means it can be expensive. To circumvent this, I offer clients the option of having a wireframe with their copy doc, or just having the copy doc. For all copy docs, I put the copy inside of tables so that designers can tell what the section looks like (a three column section will be in a three column table).

Here’s an example of my copyframing:

Yes, I made this format up. Yes, other copywriters probably independently arrived at it too. Yes, you can steal it. Yes, you can call it copyframing. Bonus points for linking to this official definition. Copyframing is the formatting of copy inside of tables so that the copy is readily understood by designers. Kudos to Philip Meyer of Lineups.io for coming up with the term.

The definition of copyframing

Choosing a website copywriter is a fun and exciting process!

Learn more about my website copywriting services for SaaS and productized services. You can also view my portfolio of website copywriting projects.

 

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