If you’re looking to hire a copywriter for your business, there are a lot of pros and cons to consider. But beyond figuring out whether it’s the right thing for you to do for your company, you also need to consider what type of copywriter you need.
The various types of copywriters can be broken down in two ways: how they are employed, and the form of copy they write. There’s quite a bit of overlap between copywriters in terms of the forms of copy they write. Many, like me, write multiple forms of copy. Others will specialise in one very specific format, and write nothing else.
Depending on your objective you’ll gain different benefits from various forms of copy and types of writer. I’ll cover the different forms of copywriting in a later post. For now, here are 3 types of copywriter and how each can benefit your business…
The 3 Types Of Copywriter (Based On Employment Status)
Generally speaking, there are three ways you can employ a copywriter:
#1 The Freelance Copywriter
Freelance copywriters like myself are (generally speaking) all-rounders when it comes to the forms of copy we can write. We’re fully capable of turning our hands to everything a client needs. This is because we tend to build long-term relationships with our clients; they come to us for one thing (like new website copy), realise a few months later they also need a load of SEO content, and then find they want to expand and create books, or eCourses, or products, all of which need copy.
When you work one-on-one with a client for years at a time, you end up writing everything under the sun for them.
So while most freelancers will have a preferred form of writing (I personally favour writing entire websites and developing a powerful brand voice for a business, as well as crafting complete content marketing strategies), we’re not limited to that favourite form.
Hiring a freelancer comes with a lot of benefits. They’re versatile writers, don’t require you to pay a salary, national insurance, and all the nasty stuff that comes with an in-house member of staff, and you only pay them for what you actually need.
#2 The Agency Copywriter
Agency copywriters are basically in-house copywriters who work for a marketing agency of some description. This might be a digital marketing agency (like Acrylic Digital, where I am currently Head of Marketing), a website development agency, an SEO agency, or a content mill.
There are pros and cons to hiring an agency over a freelancer, but the main difference is that, while freelancers have to spend a good chunk of time running their business, agency writers spend pretty much all their time on pure writing.
I’ve worked as both a freelancer and an agency writer, and I can tell you that while you might suppose the agency writer would give you more attention, you’d actually be mistaken.
When you’re running your own business you are fully invested in your clients. You have to work your arse off to get them, keeping them is the difference between paying all your bills and getting to go out and have fun, and fulfilling the stereotype of the impoverished writer.
Agency writers tend to have little to do with marketing their own agency. The most they will do is write some of the copy for it. They also have no vested interest in the success of your business and – most of the time – no reason to care if the agency doesn’t retain you as a client.
They get paid no matter what.
Unless they monumentally fuck up and get themselves fired, their jobs are secure. It’s not their personal reputation on the line, but the rep of their agency. And while a professional writer will still care that they do a good job, there just isn’t the same passion and incentive there.
It’s not that agency writers don’t care, it’s just that freelancers care a lot more.
They have to, or they don’t eat!
You’ll also find freelancers have a far better grasp of marketing, business development, and the commercial realities that you, as a business owner, are facing.
They’re in the same boat.
#3 The In-House Copywriter
If you have enough copywriting that needs doing on an ongoing basis, it may make more sense for you to hire someone in-house. There are definite benefits to this – not least the fact they’re always on-hand when you need something, and are exclusively working on your business. But there are also problems involved.
A freelancer or agency copywriter isn’t so much of a commitment. If it doesn’t work out or your needs change you can simply bring your contract to an end. If you’ve hired someone in an in-house position you’re stuck with them, even if there’s nothing for them to do.
You will also find that it either saves you a massive chunk of change to hire someone on a permanent basis, or it costs you a fat wedge more than it would have done to outsource it.
There are two reasons for this dichotomy:
- You’re in control of the salary you offer an in-house writer and can ensure it’s within your budget. Meanwhile, freelancers and agencies have their own side of things to cover, including rent, overheads, taxes, etc.
- You only pay a freelancer or agency writer for what they actually do, while an employee needs to be paid constantly, even if they have zero on. Meanwhile, the quality of the writer you hire in-house will be limited by budget, location, and various other factors. A freelancer or agency writer can be based anywhere, and you can choose someone who specialises or has the best reputation or highest level of experience.
The Best Type Of Copywriter For You…
If you have a large volume of copy that needs completing and you’re certain that requirement isn’t going to disappear, hiring an in-house copywriter may be the best option for you. Weight up the costs involved in terms of salary, national insurance, benefits, pensions, etc. Consider also the calibre of copywriter you will be able to attract.
How good the person you hire is will depend a lot on where you are, the salary you’re offering, and how appealing your business model and company culture are.
Writers are creatives. Which generally makes us free spirits. It takes a lot to tie a really good writer to a single company. You’re either going to need the perfect location (i.e. 2 minutes from their house), a very high salary they can’t exceed as a freelancer, or the kind of company culture or business model they’ve always dreamed of working for.
An agency freelancer is a good middle ground, particularly if you’re already using an agency for other services – it can make sense to keep everything under one roof. Just be aware that when they’re hiring writers, agencies tend to get the best they can for the amount they’re willing to pay, rather than simply getting the best!
You also have no real way of knowing who is actually writing your copy. Sure, it could be their head of marketing with her 10 years of experience, but it could also be the apprentice they hires a couple of months ago.
You’ll usually pay the same either way.
The freelance writer is the most flexible option. It also gives you the ability to find a writer who specialises in your niche, or has a particularly high level of experience. With a freelancer, you also have the ability to build a highly valuable relationship with a single creative who can finely hone your voice, and present new and interesting options for development and growth that you might not have considered otherwise (i.e. a book, an eCourse, launching a podcast, etc.).
If you’d like to have a chat about your copywriting needs, get in touch, I’d be delighted to discuss your project…