There’s an old saying among wordsmiths: “Everyone can write, but not everyone is a writer.”
Writing isn’t inherently difficult. Anyone who has completed high school or has received a university degree has a certain aptitude for writing.
But becoming a professional copywriter requires more than knowing proper grammatical structures and syntax. Anyone can do that. It’s having the professional capacity to know when to connect with the reader and when to educate and inform.
Being a professional copywriter entails years of experience and training translated into words and sentences that sing and evoke a desired response from the audience. And just as important, it’s having the ability to monetize your words.
The ability to monetize work is the most important quality of a freelance writer. Content marketing is an essential ingredient for any modern brand. Any successful digital marketing campaign starts with the right content. And at the heart of that content is a skilled copywriter.
If you’re in the market to hire a copywriter for your inbound or content marketing needs, here are the seven essential qualities to look for besides monetization.
1. Does top-notch research
The best copywriters are often a Jack (or Jill) of all trades.
They are able to write about a wide variety of topics and across many industries. They are able to do this not because they are subject matter experts, but because they have honed their research ability.
Being able to effectively research topics is imperative for any freelance copywriter. Most freelance copywriters work for multiple clients at the same time. This requires having the capacity to pivot from one subject matter to another.
Research frames the direction of the copy. It provides a discerning point of view that attracts and persuades an audience to respond.
2. Highly curious
To be a successful copywriter, one needs to be curious. Similar to other roles within the digital marketing landscape, rote thinking limits a copywriter’s ability to write. It results in bland, boring copy that no one wants to read or engage with.
Curiosity is the gateway to creativity. It leads to enthusiasm and analytical thinking. A curious copywriter asks questions that allow them to discover something unique about the brand or product they’re writing about.
And when a writer is passionate about the topic on hand, their work proudly displays it. Curiosity can transform a seemingly boring topic into a compelling one. This will excite the reader, creating opportunities for action.
3. Knowledgeable about SEO
Search engine optimization or SEO is necessary for every modern brand. With every brand vying for the top position on search engines, SEO is the differentiator between a brand competing for the top spot and a brand not even appearing on the first page of a search result.
Being knowledgeable about SEO as a copywriter is knowing how to balance the technical with the creative. Web copy that’s optimized for SEO is one that appeals to a targeted audience and prompts action while increasing authority and relevance to improve its ranking on search engines.
Copywriters looking to write web content today need to have a strong understanding of the SEO landscape. Knowing SEO and local SEO best practices can have a significant impact on published content. The ability to write copy that’s SEO-friendly is an art unto itself.
4. Produces error-free writing, every time
A good copywriter should be consistent in their production value. This means creating a final product for their client that is polished and error-free. Anything a freelance copywriter produces should be well-edited and proofread before getting published.
Failure to maintain this standard can have disastrous results.
The importance of polished and error-free work relates to brand reputation.
Sloppy copywriting infers poor management of content production. While this may not directly impact the copywriter, it can severely diminish a brand’s reputation and its authority, limiting its future success.
5. Demonstrates reliability
The issue of reliability is a concern for any business.
Missed deadlines can result in missed opportunities to capture an audience’s attention. In today’s fast-paced landscape of social media and trending topics, an unreliable copywriter is detrimental to the success of your business, regardless of the quality of their work.
When considering a freelance copywriter for your digital marketing campaigns, focus on their time management skills. They should be able to produce work in a timely manner while maintaining a high degree of quality.
A good way to determine reliability is to confer with past clients. Previous clients can confirm a copywriter’s professionalism and assure you if they’re efficient with their time and can meet deadlines.
6. Willing to learn
Unlike an in-house copywriter, a freelance copywriter works with many clients across various industries. And with writing being a subjective field, this can often result in copywriters facing criticism regarding their work.
Constructive criticism is part of the job description. After all, a copywriter’s job is to write. It’s to inform an audience and sell a good or service. Not being able to accept feedback from a client and learn from past mistakes limits their ability to work collaboratively.
7. Understands the role
Unlike a journalist or a creative writer, the main purpose of a copywriter is to sell a brand’s product or its services. While copywriters may have similar traits to journalists or creative writers – like having the ability to educate and inform in a creative manner – the end results are different.
Copywriting is not the end product. It’s salesmanship. Copywriting services are a tool used by brands and companies to drive readers to the end product.
A freelance copywriter who doesn’t understand that their work is to produce a call-to-action, to prompt readers to the desired action, is one that won’t be beneficial to your business.
More than just writing
Any freelance copywriter worth their salt knows that there’s more to being successful than just writing. Undeniably, a flair for the written word is important, but as mentioned, everyone can write.
A good freelance copywriter is one that is continuously developing their skills as a copywriter. This means being adaptable and staying current across many disciplines, from the latest digital marketing trends to the most recent viral content.
And being a business owner, this is the type of freelance copywriter you should want.
Hisham Wyne is an award-winning copywriter, brand consultant and content creator based in Dubai. He has over a decade’s experience in helping brands get their messages right. From crisp web copy and zippy brochures to in-depth company profiles and analytical annual reports, Hisham makes words work for you – so you can sell better, gain visibility, and give your brand a unique voice.