Guide to Outsourcing Technical Copywriting

You’ve got your tech content marketing strategy ready, buy-in from upper management, and the budget ready to spend. Now what? You need the resources to execute your plans.

More specifically, you need a copywriter to work on your campaigns, but you don’t have one on staff. This puts skilled technical copywriters in the driver’s seat. And if you think you can get away with using a software application or AI bot to write marketing content fast and at an insane scale, think again. Only a human copywriter can craft stories with the emotional depth and resonance needed.

Technical Copywriters Are a Special Kind of Geek

So, how can you find, evaluate, and hire the right freelance technical copywriter for your content marketing needs? Here are a few tips to help you find the right freelance technical copywriters who can create compelling, well-written, SEO-optimized blog posts, articles, eBooks, product fact sheets, reports, case studies, and more.

1. Are you ready to outsource?

Like with most problems, acknowledging that you have one is the first start. Then, you also need to know what kind of copywriting help you need and the skills and experience required to get the job done right the first time.

2. What are your tech copywriting requirements?

Consider the following

Identify the topics, formats, and platforms they’ll work with, the expected word counts of their work, and the details of content creation they’ll need to know. Will you provide all the information they need to write, or will they be expected to do their own research? How about interviews, will they have to do those? Have they created and edited video posts or stories before?

The role they’ll play in your creation and publication process

Think about the tools they’ll need to use to create your content. Will they be expected to bring/use their own, or will they use yours? Are they an integrated marketing team member or just someone you can bring on board for as needed? What do you need to communicate to your team about the freelance tech copywriter?

The expected volume and frequency

Determine how often you’ll need them to deliver new assets. Will it be on a set schedule, or will you use them whenever you need an extra hand?

Your business goals for the content

Articulate and document the business goals you’re trying to accomplish. Decide whether you will gauge their performance based on those business goals or some other metric.

Your content & brand governance

Gather all your content and brand governance documents, like brand voice and style guides. Share them with the freelancer so they’re familiar with them and can refer to them as they work with you. How will you integrate them and their work into your content workflow? What about your editorial workflow? Lastly, what about any regulatory, legal, technical, or procedural guidelines they’ll need to comply with? Are you sure they need to comply with them, and if so, how will they?

The designated contact person at your tech company

Depending on whether the freelancer will be an integrated member of your content team or an outside freelancer you bring in, you’ll need to decide who will be their designated contact person. If they’re an integrated member of the team, they’ll need access to all your communication tools and SME information so they can work on your projects. If they’re to remain an outside freelancer, designate a single contact point person for them that can take care of all communication for them. Beware; however, this contact person must be available enough to answer the freelancer’s questions and truly help them; otherwise, it won’t work.

How much you’ll pay your freelance copywriter

What’s your marketing budget for the year? Is it enough to engage the freelancer as much as you need to? And how will you pay them; by the project or per hour? Each freelancer is different and will have different expectations on this. Also, remember that their rates may seem significantly higher than what you pay full-time employees, but that’s because you don’t pay for any of the “overhead” for them (i.e. their employment taxes, training, benefits, etc.).

Getting properly set up to work with an outside copywriter takes a bit of work. When you do it, you’ll enjoy less friction across your entire content workflow, establish a trusting and mutually-satisfying long-term relationship with the writers you bring on board, and ensure your marketing team can make tangible contributions to business outcomes and goals.

3. Where to find a great technical copywriter

If you’re reading this post, chances are, you don’t have a list of outside copywriters to refer to. Here are a few ways to find great freelance technical copywriters.

Ask for recommendations

Post a listing on a professional writers job board or talent exchange

Research freelance technical copywriters directly

Ask your HR department for a shortlist

Get help finding the right copywriter

Regardless of how you find a technical copywriter, remember that professional copywriters are skilled people, and paid writing assignments are how they make their living. They expect to be paid fairly for their work, and likely won’t work “on spec” or “for the exposure”.

4. Vetting your candidates

Technical copywriters are a special breed of copywriters who combine the in-depth knowledge of technology with the persuasive power of copywriting. They understand how to use words to explain, engage, persuade, and educate audiences on the benefits of technology. It’s not just about tossing out tech jargon and complex concepts. Instead, a technical copywriter can demystify technology and reveal the value of it to any audience (technical, or otherwise).

To find the right technical copywriter who can write and operate successfully for your B2B technology company, look for:

Relevant writing skills: Does the writer have experience writing in the style or format you’re seeking? What about their background and training? Do you have specific requirements they must meet to write for you?

Tactical knowledge & skills: Is your writer willing to take on time-saving tasks like inputting copy directly into your CMS? Do they know the tool you use (WordPress, HubSpot, Marketo, etc.)? Do they know how to optimize copy for keywords and phrases? Do they always consider the audience when writing? Do they know the proper way to attribute information and images they reference or repurpose from external sources?

Adaptability & versatility: Can your writer take on different types of writing assignments, or do they prefer to focus on one type only? Can they handle multiple assignments at once? Can they easily switch writing gears when writing for a different audience in a different style and/or tone?

Subject matter expertise: How knowledgeable are they about the technology industry, the lexicon, relevant trends and issues, and who the most prominent players are? A good writer can and is willing to learn these details as they go. Still, projects will go more smoothly for both of you if they already understand the opportunities and challenges tech businesses like yours typically face. It’s easier for them to change up their writing when they are already familiar with the industry.

Audience insights: Have they written for an audience like yours before? Are they familiar with the pain points, preferences, and areas of interest your audience has? Again, this is something they can learn on the job, but if they’re already familiar with your audience’s point of view, it’s easier for them to write (and it means less editing and revising on your part).

Project logistics: Will your writer be available when you have a new assignment? How much lead time to they need for new projects, and how quickly do they respond when you do reach out. Understanding the way your freelance technical copywriter works is critical to getting your projects done on your timeline. You’ve got to set the expectations on your end and understand their working process so you can meet in the middle. For example, I try to book work 6 weeks ahead of time for new projects and ask existing clients to give me 2 weeks’ notice when a new project comes down the pike. That way, I can get my schedule in order, and they know precisely when I’ll be able to deliver their copy.

Samples and professional endorsements: Does the writer you’re considering have a website and an online portfolio you can review? What about testimonials from current or previous clients? Are they a member of any relevant associations or professional organizations? All of this will tell you a little something about the writer and whether it’s worth reaching out or not.

5. Writing tests

Reminder: Never ask them to do this for free; they are professional copywriters and expect to be paid for their work.

What a technical copywriter is looking for in you

Hopefully, your search and evaluation process leads you to technical copywriters who are well qualified and eager to work with your B2B tech business. But your work is not done there.

You’ve also got a responsibility as a good client to set up your freelancer for success. After all, you want the relationships to be positive and successful, so it lasts longer than one assignment.

Your responsibilities as a client

  1. 📍 Your content marketing strategy: Ideally, you’d be sharing your overall strategy with your freelance copywriter, but at the very least, let her know your content mission, target audience, personas, brand story, and whatever else you think she needs.
  2. 📅 Your editorial plan or calendar: Copywriters will need to know the details of your brand’s preferred style and tone of voice, what style guide and spelling rules you’re following (AP, Chicago, Microsoft, etc.), any guidelines for content quality, and your review and approval process.
  3. 🦸‍♀️ + 🦸‍♂️ Access to relevant team members: Depending on the project, your freelancer will need access to other members of your organization. Make sure to give them their names and contact info, as well as identify their roles in the content process. Next, let your colleagues know the freelancer may contact them. There’s nothing like someone ignoring an email because they thought it was spam.
  4. 💻 🕹️ ☁️ Technical resources and requirements: Give them access to any editorial systems and services they’ll need to do their work, such as CMS access, stock image accounts, or collaboration tools like Slack. This also includes any other technical marketing details they’ll need to know, like keywords/phrases to target or avoid, metadata structures, file naming conventions, etc.
  5. 🧰 Templates and branding materials: If they’re doing any work with proprietary assets like company logos or you have strict rules on work following a standard or template, share them with your freelancer.

Power up your copy with a freelance technical copywriter

Understanding where your tech marketing team stands from a production standpoint can help you decide to outsource and work with a freelance technical copywriter.

I hope this guide explained everything you need to know about outsourcing copywriting to a freelance technical copywriter. The next time you need help, you’ll have a better idea of how to find one and how to create a long-lasting relationship.

Originally published at https://spacebarpress.com on December 12, 2019.

Tech Copywriter, Geek, #ContentMarketing. Explaining the magic of technology since 1999. Come visit me at spacebarpress.com

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