Hiring a freelance copywriter is no small responsibility. Make the right choice, and you get great copy that brings in leads, sales, and profits – in bushels. Make the wrong choice, and you end up pouring thousands of dollars down the drain. Fortunately, you can avoid that particular heartache (most of the time, anyway) simply by knowing what to look for in a direct-response copywriter.

Here are six questions that must be asked.

“Do you have experience in direct marketing?”

The answer should be “yes,” and backed up by samples.

“Do you have experience in my industry?”

Previous experience dealing with your industry or product is a great plus to look for in a freelance copywriter. It helps to have a writer who already speaks the language and knows the buzzwords. Also, a writer with experience in your industry can offer valuable insight and guidance a neophyte cannot provide.

“If I wanted to hire you, how would I go about it?”

Some writers insist on payment up front, a practice many clients won’t agree to. Others get advance retainers. Some simply send a bill when the job is done. The important thing is to make sure you are comfortable with the writer’s prices, fee arrangement, and working methods.

“What is your style?”

Get samples from several writers, and pick the one whose ap­proach seems “in sync” with your own. Don’t hire a writer whose style you don’t like and then ask him to write in a different style. It just won’t work.

“How well has your copy pulled?”

It doesn’t hurt to ask the writer how his copy has pulled for other clients. Just don’t weigh this information too heavily. After all, most freelancers, when asked, will naturally say that their copy is successful. Also, keep in mind that many freelancers do not have access to timely, accurate response figures.

“Who have you worked for?”

Lack of a client list means you are probably talking to a writer who is just starting out in freelancing (not necessarily a drawback). A long client list tells you the writer has been in business a while and is probably somewhat successful. However, keep in mind that it’s easier for a freelancer to get a small project from AT&T than it is for a major ad agency to win the entire AT&T account. So don’t let the client list impress you too much.

[Ed. Note: If you have the cash, you can hire your own copywriter. But if you’re just starting out, you should consider mastering the art of copywriting on your own. That’s just one element of business building you’ll learn with ETR’s Internet Money Club Independent Learner Edition.

For useful strategies to improving your ad campaigns, check out the Direct Response Letter, Bob Bly’s monthly e-newsletter. Sign up today and get over $100 in free bonuses.]

Bob Bly

Bob Bly is an independent copywriter and consultant specializing in business-to-business and direct marketing. He has been hired as a consultant by such companies as Sony, Chemical Bank, J. Walter Thompson, Westinghouse, and Prentice-Hall. Bob is also the author of more than 50 books including The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Direct Marketing (Alpha Books), Targeted Public Relations, Selling Your Services, How to Promote Your Own Business, and Keeping Clients Satisfied. A phenomenal public speaker, Bob will share with you how easy it is to start your own business. Whether you’re ready to quit your job or are just looking to make a little money on the side, you’ll want to hear Bob’s advice.