In a sea of copywriting agencies and freelance copywriters, it can be difficult—and let’s face it, tedious—to take the time to research and find the right copywriting agency to help with your organization’s content marketing.
Agencies and freelancers craft profiles that put their best foot forward, as they should, but if you’ve ever been on a dating app, you know that profiles and portfolios only tell a small sliver of the truth (or no truth at all, does anyone remember the show Catfish?) So, decisions made on first impressions are likely not the best ones. Don’t get fooled by a pretty profile on the internet. Take the time to get to know the agency behind it.
The Top 3 Things That Should Make You Swipe Left
At Content Workshop, we want to keep you from swiping right on the wrong copywriting agency and help you find the right one to fit your content marketing needs and goals. Here are the top three things you should consider before you swipe right.
#1: Vague or Misaligned Core Values
When researching or getting to know a potential copywriting agency or freelancer, it’s important to know their core values. Do you know what they stand for and what they are all about? Do those values align with your brand and its goals?
When to Swipe Left
Any agency that avoids mentioning anything about why they exist or what they stand for is a red flag. Just as bad is one that says they stand for something, and the evidence, such as their actions, website, or work, is contrary. In both of these cases, it’s best to avoid partnering with said agency or freelancer to avoid issues.
Another red flag might be a misalignment between your brand’s or organization’s values and goals and that agency’s values. For example, if your organization values precision and quality but a potential partner seems more interested in churning out large quantities of generic content, it may not be a good match.
While a value misalignment isn’t always this extreme and doesn’t always lead to a poor working relationship if the values aren’t too far off, it can also lead to butting heads or awkward situations, so we think it’s best to avoid working with these vendors as well.
When to Swipe Right
If they clearly state who they are and what their values and purpose are, and you vibe with it, this is likely a good sign. Having well-aligned goals and values typically leads to a great working relationship that makes both parties happy.
But remember what we said before, don’t be fooled by a nice first impression. Take a couple of meetings with the potential vendor and research their testimonials and case studies to determine if their first impression aligns with reality.
#2: Poor Communication
Few things are worse in any relationship than when communication breaks down. No one really knows what the other party needs, and trying to accomplish joint goals becomes an uphill battle rather than a collaborative experience.
Communication style should be like a love language. So since your love language is not just how “I wanna be loved” but how “you want and need to be loved,” communication style is how you want to be communicated with. Remember, wants and needs are different in this context, as well. Your wants are your communication style while your needs needs are goals your company must achieve to be successful. Regardless, a partner that refuses to speak your “love language” and address both your needs and your wants isn’t invested in your best interest.
When to Swipe Left
One of the top red flags that should make you swipe left is if their communication skills are nonexistent or spotty, indicating that you are not their priority. Some specifics to look for are:
- Irregular meeting cadence or email correspondence
- Frequently canceled or moved meetings
- Putting your relationship on the back burner (because if you’re on the back burner for your relationship, the same will happen for your content)
When to Swipe Right
The right copywriting agency for you should be the one that communicates frequently and openly with you and the rest of your team. This means telling you both when things are going well and when things are going off the rails. Your partnership should be focused on producing the best content possible for your brand, and that includes predicting potential roadblocks and obstacles that might prevent that from happening.
Even more, the agency should be adaptable to the communication style that works best for your partnership. If your organization only communicates by Slack, they should be willing to create a Slack Connect channel with you. If you work better via email, they should only send you updates there. To do the contrary would be no different than taking your significant other to YOUR favorite restaurant for THEIR birthday. It doesn’t make sense, and it’s not about them. Your copywriting agency should focus on working best with you.
#3: Lousy Quality
Since content is both the deliverable you’re receiving from the agency and the service they’re providing, the quality should always be top-notch. Poor quality that doesn’t meet the needs of your target audience or simply doesn’t match your brand is never something you should tolerate from a content partner.
But remember, quality isn’t just up to the copywriting agency to guarantee. A clearly constructed content strategy and clearly aligned personas make a huge difference in the quality of final deliverables.
When to Swipe Left
Of course, poor quality, or quality that doesn’t improve, is a massive red flag. But even worse is an inability to learn about the subject at hand and understand it enough to write about it. Being an active and engaged learner and participant in the brainstorming/ideation process will yield better copy in the end.
Writers don’t have to be subject matter experts to tell a good story, but they need to absorb and project the subject with confidence and great storytelling abilities.
Some other red flags include:
- Excessive rounds of revision due to failing to correct issues.
- Fails to accept input from subject matter—i.e., thinking they know better than you about your brand.
- Pieces rarely are written for the target audience or failing to clearly convey the main point.
- Overreliance on passive sentence structure.
- Overwriting in general is a huge red flag; if the copy you’re paying for just looks like a word salad that someone tossed together in a hurry, swipe left.
When to Swipe Right
No one really wants to spend time onboarding rather than jumping directly into content production. However, if a copywriting agency wants to invest their time at the front end to understand your audience, solution, and how, when the outcomes of the two are combined, your target persona benefits, this is a green flag and demonstrates that they are dedicated to you and your brand.
Understanding your brand before content production begins typically leads to better quality first drafts (not that it guarantees that the copy will be 100% right the first time). And it also leads to an easier revision process because the agency has a better understanding of how to incorporate your feedback and address your concerns.
Swipe Right on the Right Copywriting Agency
Feeling heard is a big part of knowing that you are working with the right agency. These are the top things that make a successful agency and what we hear from our clients at the end of the sales process. Even when they don’t buy for us, they tell us that we made them feel seen, heard, and understood.
And remember, if it’s advice you’ve heard for making your personal relationships successful, you can likely apply it to make your content relationships successful, too.