Before hiring freelance B2B copywriters for websites, marketers should know the right questions to ask.
ARE ALL B2B COPYWRITERS THE SAME? SOME MARKETERS SEE COPYWRITERS AS BEING A DIME A DOZEN…OTHERS KNOW BETTER. When marketers hire freelance B2B copywriters for websites, getting high quality results should be the number one priority. B2B writers who create website content vary greatly in experience, expertise, professionalism–and rates. If you want your website to shine, don’t be tempted to go with a low-cost, inexperienced writer or content mill. It pays to invest in a top-notch writer who will provide high-quality, original content that your audience will appreciate.
If you’ve haven’t hired a freelance (or haven’t found the right one), here are some valuable tips.
What does it take to find a B2B copywriter who meets your website needs?
How would you look for a B2B content writer—and how would you make that decision? Let’s make the analogy of looking for a building contractor to upgrade your kitchen. Would you just hire the lowest bidder? Of course not! Instead, you would ask questions to find out more about them. For example, you might ask:
- What are your professional qualifications?
- Can you show me examples of your work?
- What type of project management system do you use?
- How do you typically work with your clients?
- Can you provide me with client references?
Only by asking the right questions can you determine if a potential contractor is professional, has the right set of skills, communicates well, and will deliver high-quality results. You want a good return on your investment, and it may not pay to go with the cheapest option. After all, who wants to risk building a kitchen where the cabinets fall off or you have a fire because of faulty wiring!
Likewise, if you’re looking to bring on an expert B2B content writer for your website, you need to ask the right questions so you can carefully evaluate your options and make a wise decision.
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How important is high-quality, valuable content for your website?
In selecting a B2B copywriter for your website, the most important factor should be the level of quality you think they will deliver. There are several reasons for this.
The first reason to priority quality in selecting your writer is SEO. Google’s complex search algorithm determines which webpages will be displayed for a particular search, and in what order. What’s the number one ranking factor? A combination of elements that signal the content is high quality and will be valuable for the user conducting that search.
The second reason is centered on user experience. Once a user lands on your site, quality will affect how long visitors stay on your site, what type of actions they take, if they will share the content, and if they will return to the site. In a circular fashion, Google receives signals of user satisfaction (such as bounce rates and session duration), which it uses for page ranking.
It’s all about providing value to visitors who come to your site.
Expect high-quality content from you freelance B2B copywriter.
If you’ve ever worked with low-ball building contractors, or have heard stories from those who have, you know that you get what you pay for. The lowest bidder is not always a bargain. The same is true for hiring your creative team, including your copywriter.
If you want a writer who knows about SEO, has industry experience, and understands UX, don’t settle for less. An inexperienced writer without proper qualifications may come in under budget, but it will cost more in terms of lost leads, conversions, and reputation.
Instead, many companies will choose the more highly qualified creative writer that charges a higher fee, and tackle the website project in two phases. Phase one would include the essential elements and pages, and phase two would build out pages and functionality. It takes a bit longer and requires a larger overall budget, but the added business it brings over time will far outweigh the short-term expense.
There’s no doubt that hiring a freelance writer who can deliver high-quality content is crucial. So without further ado…
Here are 10 key questions to ask your next freelance writer:
1. What do you know about our company?
This is an interesting question because it will show if they’ve done their homework about your company. It’s a negative sign if they haven’t taken the time to learn the basics of your business—what niche you are in, what types of products and services you offer, and similar areas. Their answer may indicate how motivated they are to take your project. After all, how much effort is it to go on your website and find out what your company does?
The Takeaway: Look for a writer who cares enough to do their homework.
2. How much experience do you have as a B2B freelance copywriter?
This is actually a multi-part question, especially in technically complex industries, such as technology and finance. Here are several areas to ask about:
While B2B purchases tend to be impulsive and emotional, B2B customers—especially audiences for high-priced, complex products—spend more time at the top-of-the-funnel, learning about the product category, looking at types of solutions, organization impact, and other business factors. It’s vitally important that the content be highly professional, display expertise, show authority, and reflect trustworthiness. B2B writers understand how to write with these factors in mind.
The Takeaway: Make sure your writer understands the type of information needs, motivations, and drivers of B2B audiences and their decision-making processes.
3. How much experience do you have creating content for my industry or niche?
Your freelance writer should write in the language of your audience. I don’t necessarily mean that writing should be full of jargon and acronyms. Rather, your audience will gravitate toward a professional tone and industry-oriented language.
Look for a writer who has at least a basic level of understanding about your customers’ challenges—are they most focused on team efficiency, accuracy of results, or ease of operation? What are the key competitors you face in the market? It may save you time and result in higher quality if your writer already has a head start by knowing this audience-related information.
The Takeaway: If your company is in a highly technical industry space, you’ll get better results in less time with a writer who is knowledgeable about your industry.
4. As a content expert, what do you think about our current website?
This is another way to find out if your candidate has done their homework. But even more, it allows the writer to share their perspectives, insights, and knowledge about what makes website content effective. It also tells you if they look at their writing in a broader context. Do they mention just the copywriting, or do they also mention other areas such as messaging, structure, overall look, and consistency, and other indicators of quality?
When interviewing a writer, they might not want to be critical—which is understandable. Still, it’s not necessarily the best thing for a writer to only say what they like about it. An experienced person in the business world should be able to provide both positive and negative observations and feedback in an appropriate manner.
The Takeaway: Learn about the writer’s perspective and approach by getting their opinion on your current website.
5. How do you optimize websites you work on for search engines (SEO)?
Back-end SEO includes complex coding and other areas of technical knowledge. However, writers can be expected to have some knowledge of front-end SEO. Even if you have a separate SEO expert, your writer should be able to create content that adheres to SEO best practices.
While keywords have taken more of a backseat in recent years, hire a writer that understands the correct use of keywords, formatting, and headers on how your pages will rank, along with the effect on users as they read and scan each page.
The Takeaway: If the freelance writing candidate is unable to competently discuss the role of SEO in content creation, they are lacking an important skill.
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6. Do you have other B2B website skills you can contribute to building our website?
Many copywriters have a broader skillset that might be helpful to you. Before you even start your search to hire a writer for your website, identify the role you want them to fill. For example, some companies complete the entire design and want the writer to primarily fill in a template. In other cases, the company wants more of a content strategist who can weigh in on navigation, SEO, and UX (User Experience). Still other companies want a writer who can act as a project manager.
The Takeaway: As you talk to each candidate, find out the range of skills they can contribute to your project and how these skills might enhance your website project.
7. Are you comfortable doing some research (and what kind)?
Research is sometimes helpful in creating content that will differentiate you, position you, and help you stand out among your competitors. If you anticipate that you will need external data to create content, will you furnish it or would you want your writer to take on that responsibility?
If you will need the writer to do significant work beyond the writing itself, make sure you have a mutual agreement about what you will require from them. In other words, clarify the scope of work.
For example, will you want the freelance writer to conduct any of the following activities?
- Collect and present you with relevant statistics for any copy or content element
- Conduct competitive research about products, services, and pricing
- Interview your management, staff, or clients
- Analyze data in charts or tables, financial documents, or other complex documentation?
The Takeaway: Not every writer is able or willing to do background research. Research can take a lot of time, so it will likely be reflected in the writer’s estimate.
8. What kind of freelance experience do you have working with a website creative team?
Creating a website can be a delicate dance between the graphic designer, content writer, and backend developer. These roles often intersect, and there can be unnecessary squabbling or inefficiency if communication within the team is weak. An inexperienced copywriter may not know how their work affects the designer or the developer—and so may not communicate meaningful information to them. The writer may also not anticipate how other website elements will affect the copywriting process.
For example, who determines how much copy is required? Is it the designer who has a particular layout in mind? Or is it the copywriter who must ensure that audience information needs are met? And who will communicate plans for internal linking and the “user journey” to the developer? By working hand-in-hand with you and your internal marketing group, the creative team will arrive at the best solutions and have a smoother process, .
Takeaway: There will be fewer missteps if you hire a freelance copywriter who understands and can anticipate the needs of each member of the creative team–including you!
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9. Do you have a general process you like to use for website content creation?
The website creation process varies from company to company; there is no single right way (even though there are some wrong ways!). Some companies have a pre-established creative process that the writer will need to follow. Others companies are more flexible depending on a variety of factors. Still others, especially startups, are unfamiliar with the website creation process and need guidance from the copywriter.
The Takeaway: If you feel a writer is inflexible or can’t provide the guidance you need, you may become frustrated or end up at a standstill.
10. How would you describe your work style when working on a B2B website?
Personal style is important. The website creation process can take several months—and you want a writer who not only gets the job done, but is enjoyable to work with. So don’t just ask for qualifications—get a sense of who they are as a person. Are they process-oriented? Do they go with the flow? Do they have a sense of humor? Do they enjoy a lot of interaction? Match that against how you and your internal team like to work.
The Takeaway: Building a website is a group endeavor that takes place over several months. It is not unheard of for a project to fail when personal work styles conflict, cause tension, or create obstacles.
11. What will it cost for you to design my website?
It’s a red flag if the writer gives you an exact price without discussing specific details about what the job will entail. For example, they should ask how extensive the changes will be, how many pages the site will have, what timeframe you have in mind, and other items that would naturally affect time and pricing. Failing to ask these questions is a sure sign of inexperience.
In addition, you should find out how they charge. Some content writers will charge by project and others by page. Also, find out when they would expect to be paid. On a large project such as a website, writers often expect to receive half of the payment upfront and the second half upon completion.
The Takeaway: Expect an experienced writer to ask questions about the scope of the project before providing an estimate.
12. Can you provide references?
You can tell a lot about your writer from their website and from websites they have worked on, but talking to references gives you information beyond the writing itself. A reference will share what it was like to work with the designer, their particular strengths, if there were any concerns, and if they were happy with the final results.
The Takeaway: If the writer can’t provide several references, you should move on to the next candidate on your list.
Hire a freelance writer who meets your qualifications.
Building a website a significant investment for any B2B company. The quality of your content will play a key role in how well your website will meet your marketing objectives. Now that you know the questions to ask when hiring your next freelance B2B copywriting, you have the tools to find a copywriter with all the right qualifications. Talk to a company like Westebbe Marketing that has broad experience and a strategic understanding of how to create website content that achieves your objectives.
For a high-quality B2B content writer that specializes in delivering high-quality original content, contact Boston-based Westebbe Marketing.
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