Honor Code Creative


You don’t really want that writer.

You think you do, but you don’t.

All together now. Let’s rip up the job reqs. (photo: rawpixel.com)

All together now. Let’s rip up the job reqs. (photo: rawpixel.com)

Every so often I bump into an open rec for a job I know I’d kill. The pajama brand my son grew up in, for example. Something I’m passionate about, know about, and can see just what needs to get done. But the requirements look nothing like me. Here’s a word to the wise. You don’t have to want me. But are you looking at the right things? Or are you failing to think in a way that matches the innovative nature of your business? (See what I did there?)

You think you want: A junior person who won’t cost too much and can grow with the company.

You really want: Someone senior enough so there’s no learning curve, who can hit the ground running, give you exactly what you want without lots of edits, and when you’re ready can help source, hire, and train juniors as needed.

You think you want: Someone who is invested in your business.

You really want: Someone who’s invested in producing excellent work, but divorced enough from the business as to be less emotional, less in the weeds, and better able to evaluate the work from the perspective of your audience.

You think you want: Someone to write copy.

You really want: Someone to write copy, ask questions, think strategically, and generally bring a little more to the table. If you hire a pure copywriter, you’re limited by the brief you give them. They will take the existing voice—if they’re good —and continue along the path that’s been established. If instead you hire someone with a little bit of a strategic background, a problem solver, you’ll have a chance to be surprised in a good way. For example they’ll ask a question like “Should we also market post-mask toners in this email on my masking?” and “How is this supposed to work when the user clicks through?”

You think you want: Someone with limited enough work experience to be moldable.

You really want: Someone with a range of different experience that s/he can then leverage on your behalf. This is especially the case for a startup. If you hire the right person, they will bring with them host of experience from past companies. It’s like a window into what works and what doesn’t.

You think you want: Someone you don’t have to pay much for.

You really want: To get what you pay for. Sure, it sounds great to use the copywriter who charges very little per hour. But you might find yourself paying more than you imagined because of the need to edit and re-review and discuss their work until you get what you want. People generally price according to what they think they’re worth based on the experience and expertise they bring. Most creatives are loathe to inflate their prices and then work under high expectations they can’t deliver on. It’s usually a situation where you get what you pay for. If you want to be very very hands-on, and realistically have the time to devote to that, then someone with a low hourly rate may be a good way to go. Otherwise, why not bite the bullet and see if that higher hourly rate is worth it in terms of efficiency and product? The ability to try without risk is one of the benefits of using a freelancer. (See, and you thought you wanted full time!)

You think you want: Full time.

You really want: A freelancer. It’s a new era, people. With a freelancer, you skip the overhead and benefits, try them out, work without risk, and shake things up when you want to, when you re-org, when you move, whenever.

You think you want: Agency experience.

What you really want: Brains, creativity, and writing talent. Having worked in an agency I can say that there’s no reason in the world why a good writer has to have agency experience to add value anywhere, even in an agency environment. The same skills are required, and a writer who comes from in-house will have a more innate sense of what the client wants. I’ve seen just as much creativity on the business side as the agency side.

You think you want: A writer who’s on-site.

You really want: A writer who feels like a team player, who helps lift spirits, has a presence that’s felt, and creates a sense of connectness. Hire someone who stays positive, someone who is flexible enough to be reachable and come in every so often, someone whose work is impactful and whose personality brings people together. On that note, I’ll see you at the summer outing.

Rachel Solomon