Does Your Web Copywriter Need to Be Local?
Working with a local contractor has its benefits. Being able to sit down face-to-face and discuss projects, ideas, and strategies is a great way to get everyone on the same page. But, technology has given us plenty of ways to communicate all around the world.
Some people are very comfortable doing business over the web and working with web-based companies. Communicating by email with a web copywriter you are considering is a great way to start. You should be able to get a great impression of their writing skills and ability to communicate a point. You can quickly eliminate anyone with many mistakes, or anyone who is unclear or confusing. I would also consider eliminating anyone who appears to have sent you a stock answer, or anything that isn't specifically addressed to you as this shows a lack of attention to detail – a trait that no copywriter should have.
A Real Person: Video Conferencing Brings It to Life
For those that are not quite as comfortable with the semi-anonymous state of the web, video calls are the easiest way to “meet” someone without leaving the office. If you're working with a web copywriter for the first time who is not local to the area, this can be a great way to get a feel for the person you are working with. Skype, Google Hangouts, and Signal are all apps that offer free internet calls with video and the call quality is only limited to your webcam and internet speed.
Even if you need tons of hyperlocal content, a good web copywriter should be able to do the research necessary to give you the content you need. Reading reviews about local establishments on Yelp or Google Reviews is one easy way to get a feel for how locals talk about a city or neighborhood, and to discover any nuances in language (such as using “downstate” instead of Southern Illinois in a conversational piece).
Work in Small Pieces
If you're still hesitant to work with someone over the web, work in small pieces. Never trust someone that says there is no other way. If you need a full rewrite of your website, contract it one page at a time. If you need a 10-post blog series, dole it out one page at a time. Both you and the contractor are free to walk away with no obligations other than the current project.
Most web copywriters don't like working completely on spec (meaning they get paid when all of the work is completed to the customer's satisfaction), and most customers don't like paying upfront. Split the difference: half down and the other half upon completion until a trusting relationship is established.