TAKEAWAYS

  • Before you hire a conversion copywriter, make sure you know what a conversion copywriter is. How else will you know if you’re hiring one?
  • If a copywriter is promising conversion copy in a day… that’s a red flag.
  • Openmindedness is required. Don’t hire a conversion copywriter if you just want an order taker. A conversion copywriter is best utilized when you see them as a partner in helping your business grow.

So you’re ready to hire a conversion copywriter.

You’ve come to the right place (I mean, the founder of Copyhackers did create the term and the process).

But before we dive into how to hire a conversion copywriter, you must understand what conversion copywriting is. 

Now that assumes you know what copywriting is as opposed to content writing

Make sure you’re clear on those first.

So what is conversion copywriting?

If you don’t know, it’ll be hard to identify a pro from someone that may just use the title “conversion copywriter.”

…Someone that may not have knowledge or experience with the conversion copywriting process.

So let’s go to the person who developed the conversion copywriting process and coined the terms “conversion copywriter” and “conversion copywriting,” Joanna Wiebe.

Before you hire a conversion copywriter, here’s what you should know

Before you create a job listing on LinkedIn. Or tweet that you’re looking for a conversion copywriter. Here are a few things to understand first:

Trust is critical

A conversion copywriter will need your data. 

They’ll need access to your email marketing tool or need to examine your Google Analytics or look at your market research.

There’s a strong chance they’ll need to talk to your clients.

If you don’t trust the copywriter with that information, you shouldn’t hire them. 

Duh gif from Full House. Calling out the obvious... don't hire a conversion copywriter you don't trust.
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Jess Kiernan, a conversion copywriter who also hires conversion copywriters, has this to say about the importance of trust, 

“It’s a relationship that requires trust from both parties.

And if you don’t feel comfortable sharing that data with that person, you’ve either got to reexamine your relationship with your data

OR you need to find someone that you would have no trouble handing it over to because the conversion copywriter will request that data and they will not be able to do their best work without it.”

Jess Kiernan, founder of Wallaby Copy

A first go is still a first go

If the project you’re hiring for is your first marketing endeavor, it’s probably not going to be a smashing success.

Even if you hire a conversion copywriter.

Because marketing is continual experimentation – even though it’s an informed experiment – it’s not a guarantee.

It involves people. And customers and prospects continually surprise even the most seasoned marketers.

“Understand that if you’re hiring a conversion copywriter and you have no customer data – so you’re using a lookalike audience or something – then you gotta be willing to work with the conversion copywriter through optimization. And understand that this first time is still the first time.

Jess Kiernan

Copy cannot fix a bad product

It also can’t fix lousy product-market fit.

A copywriter can help you identify if there is a misalignment, but copy can’t fix a bad product.

If you need more than customer research, you need to work with a positioning strategist or even a business strategist.

But you can hire a conversion copywriter to help you with customer research.

“I’ve done projects where I was just brought on for voice of customer research and market research. The company wanted me to help them understand their product.

And the research pointed to something different than what the founder was developing. So the founder took that research back to her dev team and they changed directions.

I didn’t write any copy for them. I delivered the results of the research. And the results showed that it was not looking like things were gonna fit. What I was hearing was not what their product was offering. So they pivoted.”

Jess Kiernan

Just remember… great copy cannot sell a not-so-great product.

nope. don't hire a conversion copywriter to write for a bad product
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And if it does, then you might have excellent short-term sales, but it won’t be sustainable.

You’ll lose people because your product won’t deliver on these great promises they read about in your copy.

That’s why it all has to align.

You need an excellent product for the people who need it most.

Then you need a conversion copywriter to create copy that converts those people.

Know your audience

You need to know who you’re selling to.

Who gif. Need to know your audience.
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And if a copywriter doesn’t ask you about who you’re selling to (or the audience), that’s a red flag.

A conversion copywriter should push you to really zero in on a specific person.

“If you have a list or audience with a lot of different types of folks, you’ve got to be willing to follow your conversion copywriter as they narrow down, because your copy will not convert if they don’t.

And it’s not about demographics: how many years of college, how many kids… it’s emotionally who desires most what you offer? What problems are they facing as it relates to your product?

That’s what a conversion copywriter should be pushing you to discover.”

Jess Kiernan

What to look for as you hire a conversion copywriter

How do you know if you’re talking to a conversion copy pro?

As you meet copywriters (and research them online), ask yourself these questions:

1. Are they a research-oriented copywriter?

The first big thing you should hear a conversion copywriter talk a lot about is voice of customer research. And other forms of research.

But if they’re not talking about voice of customer research, or you ask them about voice of customer research, and they appear uncomfortable… that’s a red flag. 

“If you’re in a first interview or a discovery call, and the copywriter is not talking about a research process, they are, frankly, not a conversion copywriter.”

Jess Kiernan

The copywriter should ask you questions about the research you’ve done and request data from you.

They should mention customer interviews and/or customer surveys.

Research should really be your litmus test for any copywriter.

They should be research-oriented, and specifically, they should be customer research-oriented.

2. Are they asking you a lot of questions? That’s a good thing

You need a copywriter who asks a lot of questions.

If they’re not asking you question after question about your business, your customers, and your offer… that’s a red flag.

“If they’re not asking you questions, they’re not digging deep enough to really understand what’s motivating people to choose you. They’re not diving into that one angle that’s going to bring about the conversions you’re after.”

Jess Kiernan

3. How will they test and validate your copy?

The conversion copywriting process includes validation and experimentation. 

So there should be some stage of validation or testing in the project scope.

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Listen for the copywriter to mention things like 5-second tests, user testing, A/B testing, or split testing.

If you get the sense that the copywriter will deliver and then bounce, that might be a red flag.

“This is really obvious with email. When you’re hiring an email conversion copywriter, you should look for someone who automatically sends you a couple subject lines to test for each email.

So it might not be ongoing optimization (that should be a separate project), but there should be testing as a part of the initial deliverable.”

Jess Kiernan

4. Where does the copywriter produce content?

Look for places the copywriter produces content online.

It may not be a website (although that’s a red flag for me).

But most established conversion copywriters have a website or a LinkedIn profile.

Don’t stop there. Look for other content from them.

Content creator gif. Conversion copywriters create content
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You can get a sense of what they know and how they write.

So whether it’s on their website, LinkedIn, or a guest blog post they wrote for a publication, you should be able to see some form of writing from them.

5. Is Copyhackers somewhere?

Okay. Yes, this is a blog post for Copyhackers. On their website.

And yes, that may seem highly biased.

But, here’s the thing…

Copyhackers‘ founder, Joanna Wiebe, created the terms “conversion copywriter” and “conversion copywriting.”

They didn’t exist before her.

She developed the conversion copywriting process.

So, not seeing some reference to Copyhackers is a red flag.

And apparently, I’m not the only one that thinks so. Here’s what Jess had to say,

“I would look for someone with some affiliation with Copyhackers. They don’t teach conversion copywriting anywhere else. This is where you learn conversion copywriting.

So if you are calling yourself a conversion copywriter, and you have no affiliation with the organization that invented it and teaches it, I don’t know if you really are.”

Jess Kiernan

Here are a few places to look:

Need a few examples?

Here are a few of the badges I have on my website (found in the footer):

Copyhackers gives a badge to students that complete their Copy School training. Another example of something to look for when you hire a conversion copywriter.
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And this is what the LinkedIn certification looks like:

Copyhackers has a LinkedIn Learning course about conversion copywriting. Another proof point to look for if you hire a conversion copywriter
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Prerna Malik has a testimonial from Joanna on her website:

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Any of the above can indicate that the copywriter has sought out some level of training as a conversion copywriter.

A quick note on day rates

As I sit here writing this in the spring of 2022, day rates have taken over the digital services space.  

They’re all the rage, as we used to say.

A day rate (also called a VIP Day) can be an excellent mini-project to get to know a copywriter.

You can see if the two of you work well together and if you should move forward on bigger projects.

The day rate can be an ideal test run.

But there are a few things I want to get clear.

In its most accurate meaning of the words, a day rate is when you hire a copywriter for one day.

One gif. Day rates or VIP days are one day
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Some copywriters define that as 8 hours. Some might say 6 hours.

But you’re only hiring them for that one day.

And while plenty of conversion copywriters offer this service, I’m not convinced that a copywriter can execute all of the conversion copywriting steps (research & discovery, writing, wireframing & editing, and validation & experimentation) in one day.

“If a copywriter says they’re going to deliver conversion copy in a day…that’s a red flag. Because you cannot deliver true conversion copy in a day.

In most standard VIP days or day rates, once they deliver the copy, they move on. There’s no validation involved there.

So it might be very good copy. And it might be written by a conversion copywriter who does full scale projects, but a day rate or VIP day cannot deliver true conversion copy because there’s not enough time for a deep dive in research that conversion copy requires nor the validation after the fact.”

Jess Kiernan

Why do you need to know this?

A day rate may be right for your project.

But you need to understand that the likelihood of a copywriter executing the true conversion copywriting steps in one day, in my opinion, is not likely.

And if a conversion copywriter says that they can do all of that in one day, my first question would be: How?

Then I would listen carefully to hear how they execute research, discovery, writing, wireframing, editing, validation, and experimentation in one day.

“I offer a fast turnaround product, but I tell people, it’s not real conversion copy.

It’s copywriting. But it’s not conversion copywriting, because I don’t have the time to do that deep data dive like I do for a full conversion copywriting project.”

Jess Kiernan

When you hire a conversion copywriter, here’s how to set yourself, your project and your copywriter up for success

Be openminded

Open-mindedness is essential to the success of your copywriting project. Have an always-learning kind of attitude. 

when you hire a conversion copywriter you will get a lot of information. Keep an open mind (gif) when it comes to what the research reveals.
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Because you can have an idea set in your head about your product, and when you’re that close to it, you tend to have a set idea.

But if you’re hiring a conversion copywriter, you have to understand that they will go deep on data.

Specifically your customer data and potential customer data.

And you’re going to be best served by being open to what that data shows.

Even if it’s contrary to what you believe.

And speaking of following the data…

Be willing to follow the data and see the data through

If your conversion copywriter presents research results that are contrary to what you believe…

And you decide to ignore the research and move forward with your idea…

You wasted your money.

A conversion copywriter’s research focuses on your customers and how to get them to say yes to your product.

You’ve wasted your money if you choose to ignore the data or bail in the initial testing period.

And finally,

Have your ducks in a row

One must prepare for any even gif. Before you start to hire a conversion copywriter, be prepared.
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Before you start meeting with copywriters, make sure you’re ready with:

  • Any research you have: customer interview transcripts, survey results, user testing, etc.
  • Your product. A copywriter needs to experience your product, course, or service. Make sure you’re prepared to send or set them up.
  • Sharing access. If you decide to move forward, how will you share access to Google Analytics, your email marketing tool, and any other tools your conversion copywriter will need access to?

To avoid wasting time, have the items above figured out before you get on a call with a copywriter. It will save you both time.

And when you’re ready, here’s the best place to find the perfect conversion copywriter for you.