When should you hire a newbie SEO copywriter?

In the last post, we discussed how there are different “types” of SEO copywriters — newbie, intermediate and expert. Today, we’ll talk about the newbie SEO copywriter — when she’s a smart hiring choice, what work she’s qualified to do, and the kind of time that you’ll have to spend to keep her on track.

Profile of newbie SEO copywriters:

All SEO copywriters were here once upon a time. Newbie SEO copywriters are eager to learn, excited about their new career choice and ready to tackle most any client (although they’re only ready for a chosen few.) Some newbie SEO copywriters have a sales writing background and they’re simply expanding their skill set. Others are brand-new to the writing life. Both types of SEO copywriters can perform small-scale writing tasks for a more competitive (read: cheaper) price.

These folks may not know HTML — and anything code-related may be scary. They may outgrow this phase, but some newbies will never get past this level. As such, most can be relied on for only the most basic of tasks. That’s OK.

No, newbie SEO copywriters should not perform keyphrase research, choose keyphrases, write crucial sales pages or put their nose in your strategy business. They simply don’t have the experience to do it well. Big brands would typically not benefit from a newbie hire. However, because they are less expensive than their more experienced brethren, newbie SEO copywriters are often a great alternative for small businesses.

Newbie SEO copywriters are good for:

  1. Blog posts
  2. Forum posts
  3. FAQ pages
  4. General articles
  5. Some product descriptions (if they are more experienced and with supervision)

Sometimes, a more experienced newbie SEO copywriter can:

  1. Perform keyphrase editing
  2. Create Titles, descriptions and keywords tags (only if they have HTML experience)

The issue with newbie SEO copywriters is that they don’t know what they don’t know. You’ll pay a lower cost, sure — but you’ll be spending your valuable time training your writer and looking over her shoulder. If you don’t have that kind of time (or if you have limited SEO knowledge) an intermediate-level SEO copywriter would be your best bet.

There is one other important upside. Sometimes, you can find the perfect newbie who learns fast, invests herself in your business and turns around accurate work, quickly. If you can find that “diamond-in-the-rough” SEO copywriter, hang on to her. My previous Director of Search Strategy was a diamond-in-the-rough. Leslie Carruthers, owner of The Search Guru, was another. Both women are absolutely fantastic at what they do and have helped me tremendously.

Need a writer with more experience? We’ll be talking about Intermediate-level SEO copywriters in the next post. Stay tuned!


12 replies
  1. Josh Garner
    Josh Garner says:

    I don’t know that I would agree to let a newbie copywriter write the titles and descriptions only if they are familiar with HTML. Give them the guidelines (character counts, desired search terms, etc.) and let them do what they are good at. The implementation should be left up to us (the SEOs).

    I’m very interested in this series. I’m assuming after the intermediate level you will discuss expert. That’s around the level of the copywriter I work exclusively with, and I’m trying to help him get his freelance career off the ground. We are both looking forward to it. Keep it up.

  2. Heather
    Heather says:

    Hi, Josh.

    You’re right – if the newbie copywriter is brand new to *everything* writing and has no direct response background, I’d keep them far away from Titles and descriptions. However, I have seen some folks with a direct marketing background write some pretty killer Titles – even if they were newbies (granted, it was under a LOT of supervision!). It totally depends on the copywriter.

    Glad you’re interested in learning more about expert SEO copywriters. We’ll be tackling that next week -stay tuned!

  3. Nick James
    Nick James says:

    Great article, Heather. All Copywriter’s, be they SEO or traditional have to cut their teeth somewhere and your suggestions are spot on. Learn by experience, but don’t put yourself in a position where you can cause too much damage when first starting out.
    It’s great that you’re supporting the newbie here, and it’s just a pity more businesses aren’t prepared to. I’m glad I happened upon this blog, and I’ve subscribed.
    I look forward to the other two parts (intermediate and expert) of this article.

  4. Heather
    Heather says:

    Hi, Nick,

    Thanks for the kudos. I’d love it if businesses supported the newbie SEO copywriter more. Of course, it’s a catch-22 – businesses want writing experience, and the SEO copywriter can’t get experience without someone actually hiring her.

    Leslie Carruthers, who I mentioned in the post, actually said that she’d work for free (I think it was 3 months – maybe 6) in order to learn the business. It was a fantastic win-win for both of us – I knew she was motivated, so I spent lots of training time. And Leslie was able to confidently start her own business.

    I don’t support that all newbies work for free just to get clips – but the “internship” model is one way that they can “sell” themselves and gain valuable expertise.

  5. Kenny Hyder
    Kenny Hyder says:

    I think its interesting here that you only speak in the female tense. That either means that:

    1. Only women can be SEO Copywriters


    2. Only women can be beginner SEO Copywriters

    Interesting take!


  6. Heather
    Heather says:

    Ha! Nope, in this case, I’m just keeping the gender consistent throughout the article. If you check out the intermediate SEO copywriter post, you’ll see that I used the “male tense.” :)

    Of course, men AND women can be newbie (or intermediate) copywriters. :)

  7. SEO Copywriter
    SEO Copywriter says:

    As an seo copywriter who understand the dynamics of the industry I can relate to everything you’ve said. You hit the nail on the head when you mentioned that they don’t know what they don’t know.

    Thanks for saying what most people don’t like to say. It’s tough to hear that as a newbie, and we’ve all been there once. In the end it makes you a better writer.

  8. ajay
    ajay says:

    Hello, I like what you write here. I also think that by training a newbie for writing articles could be good thing for small business and you know they are starters, give their best work to you.


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