Content for financial websites requires a great deal of precision and technical knowledge. Without an expert financial copywriter, a firm’s website will not communicate the expertise necessary for securing inquiries or retaining clients. Even worse, poorly composed content that is not corrected by an editor could expose the firm to legal issues that will damage the firm’s reputation and profitability. Here are tips for finding a copywriter who will do the job properly and help build your practice.
1. Seek Experienced Financial Writers
When interviewing copywriters, ask for samples of other financial services content they have produced. How does it read? Is the subject matter close to your requirements, or in a completely different area of expertise? The more familiar the copywriter is with your area of financial services, the better, as it will speed the learning curve and enable the new writer to hit the ground running, even with difficult assignments. In addition to reading samples, specific questions to ask freelance copywriters include:
- How many financial services clients do you have?
- How long have you had these clients?
- How many clients do you have in unrelated businesses? (This question gives you an idea of the degree of focus the copywriter truly has.)
2. Do a Test Assignment
A technique we’ve used with great success at Straight North is to give copywriter candidates a test assignment. This enables your firm to gauge not only the quality of the copywriter’s work, but also get a sense of the candidate’s working style and compatibility with your organizational culture. The process works as follows:
- Give the candidate an assignment to write a web page, blog post or press release. All candidates should receive the same assignment. If the content is real, so much the better.
- Provide the candidate with all the inputs necessary to complete the assignment. Provide a word count and an explanation of the content’s purpose, audience and key talking points.
- Establish a deadline of 2-3 business days. Instruct the candidate to email the finished document on or before that time.
- Review the content, provide edits, and return an edited version to the candidate for review and rewrites (if necessary). Ask for the edited version back with 24 hours.
We let the candidates know in advance if we choose to use their content, we will pay “x” dollars regardless of whether a job is offered.
Going through this process is a bit time-consuming, so we limit it to candidates who make the final cut — usually three or four individuals. In addition to evaluating the content itself, we are able to get a feel for the working process as the candidates go through the process:
- Does the candidate ask questions if instructions are not clear?
- Does the candidate seem overly cautious, asking too many questions?
- Does the candidate meet deadlines? If so, was the content submitted at the wire or well in advance?
- How does the candidate respond to criticism and editing?
Whether you engage a freelancer or bring a copywriter in house, the individual will be working with editors, web design staffers and many other members of your organization. Having a writer who is compatible with the team is just as important as the quality of the writing; there is no better way to evaluate both than by having a dry run.
The testing process may result in identifying two or three copywriters who appear to be a good fit with your organization. When you make your selection, keep in touch with these other candidates — you never know when you will need to expand your writing staff or replace someone. Having a pipeline of competent financial copywriters will give you a competitive edge.