When to Hire a Copywriter (and how to know if you need one!)

October 16, 2019


When I first started my business, my dad thought my official day-to-day duties included stamping a “c” with a circle around it on… things.

He said, “Well now, how’d you get into that? Do you have to work with a lawyer to do it?”

Ummm… I said, “No, dad. CopyWRITER. With a “w.” Like, words. I WRITE WORDS FOR WEBSITES.”


It was then that I wrote two different elevator pitches in my very own Brand Message + Style Guide (yep, I have one, just like what we craft for clients!).

Elevator Pitch #1: For peeps “in the biz,” a.k.a. In our niche industry

We help female founded businesses with their website words + marketing message, so they can reach the right people who need what they offer.

Elevator Pitch #2: For the old man in the grocery store

(and sometimes everyone else)

I write words for websites to help businesses reach the right people.

It’s helped a ton to think about my audience when I tell people what I do, but THE CHALLENGE REMAINS:

You really don’t know you need a copywriter

until you really need one.

I get weekly (almost daily) inquiries from business owners in a tizzy because they need copy like YESTERDAY! And, I get it – words don’t seem that hard, right? Can’t you just fill in the blanks on your website?

(If that’s you, head to The Promptlate Shop and start writing irresistible copy nowwwww.)

But, in today’s blog post, I want to give you all the information you could ever need or want about when exactly you should hire a copywriter. Plus, I’ll share how you can tell if you need one in the first place!

You don’t have to scramble for your message at the last minute of the design phase, only to slap something up that’s a sub-par placeholder.

Because, we all know, you’ll never actually have the time to look at it again.

My goal is to give you all the information you need to make a well-timed choice to outsource the one thing in your business that will make everything easier – finding the right message.

You ready?

What is Copywriting?


This word can refer to any text within a composition or publication.

In the context of marketing (according to Wikipedia – I know, super reliable), “copy” is any words which encourage consumers to buy goods and services. In publishing, “copy” refers to the text in books, magazines, newspapers.

The simplified version? “Copy” can be classified as words.

“Conversion copy,” however, is more specifically words that move people to take action.

Copy is different than content in that copywriters usually focus on the words that are directly related to sales and brand-building (such as core brand messaging, website copy, sales copy, email marketing copy, ad copy) as opposed to content created on a continuous basis (such as blog posts, instagram captions, podcast show notes, etc.). Now, obviously there’s overlap here, but I’ve found this to be the most clear-cut way to classify the two in my mind.

Why Is Copy Important?

Essentially, design attracts (and UX design helps your visitors move through the site efficiently), but without copy? Ummm… good luck selling. And, without irresistible copy? Good luck getting your visitors to stick around without clicking “close tab” in less than two seconds or so.

Words capture attention; words connect with needs and desires; most of all, words tell someone what they can buy from you and how to purchase.

Words can also create this crazy phenomenon where you’re not even competing in your market anymore; the right words will have people wanting to buy from you and only you, regardless of price.

How to Know if You Need a Copywriter

You cringe when you send people to your website.

Do you feel confident when people land on your website that they’ll get a picture of who you are, what it’s like to work with you, and the crazy transformation that can take place when they choose you?

If you’re not sure what people think when they land on your website, download my Dream Client Goggles Worksheet, here.

You have to send a manifesto email to explain your services page.

Even as a pro copywriter, I’ve been guilty of not adjusting my services page as my business grows. I’ve gotten it together a bit, but so many of my clients tell me that they wrote their services page real quick and never looked at it again – despite their businesses drastically changing. If you find yourself sending crazy lengthy emails to explain what you offer to your clients, it’s time for an intentional upgrade.

You’re great at communicating features, but not value.

Pro Tip: Your services page should be much more focused on value + benefits than it is on features. Nobody really cares that much about your wooden USB drive… just sayin’. How are you adding to their life? How are you facilitating a transformation? What hidden value do your clients always rave about that’s really hard to bullet-point?

You’ve built your business off of “shoulds.”

This one is tough to acknowledge. So many of my clients, potential client conversations, and Promptlate Shop students say, “I just looked to see how everyone else wrote their website, and basically filled in the blanks.” Copy is about so much more than changing around a few adjectives, and if you originally crafted your copy based on “shoulds,” you need more than just a few tweaks to get to the good stuff. What’s the good stuff, might you ask? The good stuff is an authentic message that effectively communicates where exactly who you are meets exactly who your people need. It’s the message that attracts the right people, more than just price-shoppers and get-’er-done-ers. Doesn’t that sound like a dream?

Your business has shifted quite a bit since you wrote your website.

This goes back a bit to the services page idea. We are in the age of PIVOTS, people. Chances are, if you’ve been in business any significant amount of time, things have drastically changed. Even if you haven’t changed your services or focus altogether, you’ve refined your process, added value, you’ve gotten BETTER RESULTS for your clients, and all of that needs to be uncovered and infused into your message.

You’re rebranding (or you want to), and you really want to speak to the right people (and convert them, duh).

A huge part of hiring a copywriter is the market research. We aim to get inside the head of your ONE person, which means we have to get to know them – like crazy. If you feel like your words are generic, and aren’t really attracting the right people, it’s likely that your words aren’t doing the work to repel the wrong people. A copywriter can help with that!

You’re launching… well – anything.

If you have plans to launch a course, a new product, a program, or revamp and optimize an old offer, you need a LOT of words. Hiring a copywriter well in advance of your launch will ensure that you’re priming your audience to get ready for that offer. It will also give you more confidence that once they’re ready for the offer, they’ll land on a page (or emails, or whatever) that moves them to make a buying decision. Too often I see people “launch” something that they threw together, and they wonder why no one is taking action. Always remember, your audience has not been living and breathing your offer for months, like you have. You need to do the work to shift their minds, get them excited about a potential transformation, and more if you want like a Jenna-Kutcher-status or Amy-Porterfield-style launch.

Great launches aren’t reserved for the famous, they’re held for the strategic and intentional.

You’re actually a good writer, but it doesn’t come naturally to you, takes you forever, or just takes time away from your true zone of genius.

This was actually a comment I heard my friend Nicole Yang mention in a coffee chat a few weeks ago. I asked her, “What do you think is your biggest hang up with writing copy for your business?”

She said, “I am actually a good writer, so I feel like I should be able to do it. BUT, every time I go to write something it takes me SO much longer than I think, I’m a total perfectionist, and it’s never quite as good as I want it to be. In reality, I should stick to what lights me up and comes naturally – design.”

My client Chelsea felt the same way.

So did my current client Alex.

And Kelsea.

And Jenna.

This might be the one you relate to most today. Do you feel like you’re a decent writer, so you shouldn’t invest in outsourcing words? How much time is it taking away from your actual zone of genius? Y’know, the thing people pay you to do?

Even more important, are you actually doing it? Or, are you just saying you’ll do it, because you know you can, but putting it on the backburner for “when things calm down?”

Just let that sink in for a minute.

You’re sitting on a shiny new website that you haven’t launched because your designer is waiting on copy. 

(Also see: Sitting on a shiny new website template that you haven’t launched because you are stumped on copy.)

Don’t let copy be what holds up your design process, or what keeps you from launching that gorgeous new MONEY-GENERATING website. Don’t let it hold you back from capturing a new audience, connecting with them in a second or two, and converting them to clients – ON AUTO.

When to Hire a Copywriter

Now that you know you might want to hire a copywriter, it’s time to answer my most-commonly-asked question.

When is the best time to hire a copywriter?

Short Answer: 

Before you think you need to.

Long Answer:

I work closely with website designers on the daily, and we’ve had countless conversations about the difficulty of timing. Typically, business owners go searching for a brand or website designer before they ever think (or even know to) search for a copywriter.

BUT, did you know that most designers ask for copy BEFORE beginning the official web design?

My friend and colleague, Davey Jones, from Davey and Krista says, “Copy is THE #1 roadblock when it comes to design. It almost always holds up a project.”

My friend and colleague, Alex Collier, focuses on building websites with both beauty and brains.

What’s the “brain” of your website? The strategy + the message that moves your visitors through that strategy, so they can take action.

H3: Ideally, it’s best to work with a copywriter before you start a design project, or at least before the full website design starts.

If you have a rebrand or redesign in mind in the near future, it’s time to put your dream team together! Also, don’t be afraid to ask your dream team (designer, copywriter, etc.) what timing is ideal for them.

If at all possible, reach out to your dream team months in advance.

At Jess, XO, we’re typically booking at least 3 months in advance. Most of my amazing copywriter and designer friends are about the same, so it’s best to get on the books as soon as possible.

Pro Tip: Ask your service provider what payment plan options they have. Typically, booking a project requires a retainer payment to seal your spot, but most service providers are willing to work with you when it comes to splitting up payments to work best for your situation (and peace of mind).

Have a rebrand, redesign,

or a launch in mind for 2020?

I have limited spots available for Q1 of 2020 – which is totally crazy (and humbling)!

I am about to open the remaining spots for Q1, and a few for Q2 for our brand messaging and website copywriting services, as well as a few very select spots for launch copy.

I’d love for you to jump on my waitlist. We’ll hop on a call in a few weeks to see how I can help you reach your big, crazy dreams – and serve + reach that crazy dream audience of yours!

Need copy, like YESTERDAY? I get it, and I’ve got a solution for ya.



I’m Jess,

iced-coffee-obsessed, saved-by-grace, allergic-to-small talk, and one of the biggest dreamers you’ll ever meet.







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