With all that it takes to run a successful nonprofit, it could seem easy to have someone already within your organization work to create copy for your website, emails, social media, etc. However, hiring a trained copywriter who has dedicated their time and energy into learning the nuances of language, grammar, and creating effective marketing can help your organization stand out above the rest.
If you’re considering adding a copywriter to your team—whether in a full-time or freelance capacity—here are some tips to make sure you set your copywriter up for success:
1. Give them some background information on your organization and its mission.
Without understanding your organization, its mission, and core values, your copywriter will not be able to create effective content. During your hiring or onboarding process, share important details about your organization. What is your mission statement? Why was the organization created? What are your long-term goals? Who is your target audience or supporters? Understanding these key components of your organization will help your copywriter create content that appeals to your specific audience while also aligning with the organization’s goals and overall mission.
2. Share your content strategy with your copywriter.
Regardless of what project you are working on with your copywriter, he/she needs to know why the content is being created in the first place. It is understood that everyone wants to drive traffic to their website or social media pages, but share more specific goals. Do you want your blog to be the number one resource for others in your field? What is the specific purpose of that page on your website or what do you want your audience to do after they have viewed it? Having a clear content strategy to present to your copywriter before he/she even begins writing will ensure that the content he/she does create will exceed your expectations.
3. Share or create a style guide.
People typically think that style guides are only for graphic designers, but really, any creative freelancer that you bring onto your team will benefit from receiving and reviewing your organization’s style guide. It is important for copywriters to understand common terminology used in your organization as well as the style manual and standards you refer to for written content (eg. MLA, AP, Chicago, etc.) in order to ensure the first draft you receive is high quality, requiring few edits or revisions. If your organization does not follow one particular style manual, choose one that best aligns with your industry and use that on all content you create moving forward. (You might even ask your copywriter for a recommendation, or to create the style guide for you to use moving forward.) Your audience will notice the consistency in written content and hold your organization in higher regard.
4. Expect that revisions will need to be made and give feedback.
A copywriter will be trying to get into your headspace to achieve your organization’s unique brand voice and messaging in the content he/she creates. However, your copywriter won’t always get it right on the first try. Throughout your entire partnership, but especially when you are just starting out, expect that you will need to take some time to review, make changes, and share feedback with your copywriter so that he/she can continually improve and align the content with your organization’s marketing strategy. Use a program such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs that allows both parties to view changes and make comments within the document. A copywriter will want to provide you with incredible content that you find valuable, so honest feedback will make the entire process beneficial for you both!
5. Leverage the content by using it on multiple channels.
You’ve made an investment, now get some bang for your buck! Can you repurpose a blog post as content for your email list? Can you pull a short paragraph of content to use for a social media caption or ad? Using the copy created by your copywriter on multiple channels will help create consistent brand messaging while also ensuring that you get the maximum return for your investment.
Currently the Chief Marketing Officer for Corporate Giving Connection and adjunct faculty at Pepperdine University where she teaches marketing to MBA students, Jen Linck has over 20 years marketing experience in the entertainment and nonprofit industries.