We live in an age of ready-made, quick-fix solutions. You want to get from A-to-B? Buy this car. Need a coat? Buy this one off-the-peg.

But what happens if the thing you need most doesn’t exist? What if the solution to your problem can’t be commoditised and stacked on a shelf?

This is unfamiliar territory to most of us.

We’re so accustomed to satisfying our individual needs (ironically) through mass-produced goods, that appointing a specialist to create something completely bespoke can be, well, scary.

This thought occurred to me recently when a company in Leeds hired me to copyedit their book. When they asked me ‘what happens next?’ I initially thought they meant deadlines and deliverables.

What they actually meant was ‘how does this whole hiring-a-freelancer thing work?’

So I took a moment to reflect on their question.

Judging by my client’s tone, and the information they shared (that they hadn’t ever hired a freelance copywriter before), you could argue that what they really meant to say was:

Look, we’ve never hired a freelancer before. We don’t know what happens and how we work together. We’re nervous, because we don’t want to get ripped off, and we’re opening up inside information to a complete outsider. Can you reassure us by describing your process, and explain the balance of control?

So this is my exposition of what it’s like to hire the freelance copywriter to write or copyedit for your company.

It’s also my attempt to allay your fears by reassuring you that we’re a pretty friendly bunch us copywriters. We learned (quickly) that being flexible and cooperative is the only way to behave when one-size-doesn’t-fit-all, and people place their trust in you.

What happens when you hire this freelance copywriter (in 10 simple steps)

  1. Understand the brief: I make sure the problem is clear, and check I’m the right person to help.
  2. I suggest fixes: if you do choose me, here’s how I could fix your problem and these are your options.
  3. You give the go-ahead: 1 & 2 are usually pro-bono, and I won’t start work until you formally instruct me to.
  4. I research and plan: in simple terms I ask a lot of questions in meetings, and look at things from different angles.
  5. You approve a sample: think of this like a quick, short prototype example to make sure you’re happy with the direction I’ve chosen, before I get stuck into the main task.
  6. I write first drafts of everything: this is the bulk of the copywriting work.
  7. You review and feedback: we’ll go through all the copy together; this is your chance to comment and make sure everything’s on track.
  8. I write a final, finished version: improved first drafts with all your feedback, changes and improvements included.
  9. You take ownership and publish: now you’re the owner of some shiny new copywriting that’s clear and compelling.
  10. We reflect and learn: on what went well, what could go better next time so I grow as a freelance copywriter.

I think what makes people most nervous about hiring a freelancer is the very nature of our process. We create things that are bespoke; therefore subjective and open to interpretation. That’s why you gain something that evolves creatively and our products stand-out, as entirely one-of-a-kind.

Right at the beginning though, without sight of an end product, hiring a freelancer can feel like you’re writing blank cheque.

Somehow though, I feel that solving the problem of building trust in new relationships is beyond a humble reflective blog post. So until then, we can only be open, honest and offer reassurance.

Hopefully this post goes some way towards that, and sheds light on the end-to-end process of hiring a freelance copywriter.