Running an eCommerce business often requires wearing multiple hats. You could be juggling everything from product sourcing to listing, and marketing to support. But as your business grows, you’ll need outside help to keep operations running smoothly.
One of the first responsibilities you should consider offloading is writing. Not only is writing a highly technical and creative task, but it also plays a huge role in eCommerce. Writing has a major impact on the entire customer journey, from the moment buyers discover your products to receiving your post-purchase emails enticing them to continue to shop.
Hiring a freelance eCommerce writer is often a sound investment and can pay big dividends for your business.
Why you should outsource your writing
If you’re still on the fence about whether or not to outsource your writing, consider the following benefits of hiring a professional writer.
Improve your branding
The strongest brands have a consistent (and distinct) message and voice. But finding that voice can be difficult when you lean on yourself or multiple team members to finish writing tasks.
Freelance writers, on the other hand, have experience writing for various brands and adapting their work to your business. They’re masters at producing coherent, punchy copy, and know how to represent your brand clearly and powerfully, even when up against a tight word count.
Save time and move faster
Think about the last time you wrote a paper over 1,000 words. How long did it take? Probably between several hours and several days. (Remember being in school and taking weeks to finish one paper?)
Now, think about the amount of content you need to produce for your business, including web pages, product listings, emails, and blogs; it’s easy to become overwhelmed and fall behind. A freelance writer who’s worth their salt can complete the work in less time, while still delivering high-quality results.
Convert more visitors into sales
Ultimately, the role of a freelance writer is to help your business land more sales. Strong, expertly crafted copy plays a direct role in this; by clearly expressing the benefits of your products, your communications can convince buyers they need your product.
Even after making a sale, your business will leverage content to nurture long-lasting customer relationships (think reengagement emails, ads, and special promotions). The best freelancers are versatile and can help you optimize each interaction.
Get an expert opinion
Remember, freelance writers — especially ones who specialize in eCommerce — are experts in their own right. Many possess years of experience working with brands across multiple industries and engaging in various types of projects.
Freelance writers can serve as a useful sounding board when you’re unsure how to deliver your message. Some even have experience in related fields like SEO, event coordination, and marketing strategy and may be able to guide your strategies.
Faster, more flexible hiring
One obvious perk of contracting with a freelancer is that it removes the process of hiring a full-time employee. Additionally, you don’t have to manage and supply work for them constantly.
Instead, you can hire freelancers on an as-need basis, whether for certain projects or a specified period of time. You’re also able to expand contracts as needed rather than having to pay a certain salary from the get-go.
What to consider when hiring an eCommerce freelancer
Once you’ve decided to hire a freelance writer, you’ll need to establish criteria to determine the right candidate. This may be the trickiest part of outsourcing work. Here are some factors to consider in your search.
Check out a freelancer’s past work, which can often be found on their websites, LinkedIn, or upon request. See if they’ve worked for brands like yours and what types of projects they’ve participated in. It’s best to find someone with a diverse portfolio of work within your industry, unless you have a highly specific writing task you want them to focus on.
Freelancers also bring their own perspective and first-hand experience to topics relevant to your online store. To make the most of their skills, it’s crucial to pose the right questions when interviewing candidates.
Ask about their familiarity with eCommerce; check if they’ve written for a competitor or a publication in your space; delve into their personal interests, work history, and areas of expertise — as opposed to assigning topics to them blindly.
Keep in mind there’s a difference between copywriters and content writers (though, on occasion, you’ll find someone who excels at both).
Copywriters specialize in shorter, persuasive writing, typically for ads or web pages. In contrast, content writers focus on longer, educational pieces, and are in high demand among companies that maintain blogs or video strategies.
Copywriters may struggle to do the work of content writers, and vice versa.
In general, rates are based on hours, retainers, word count, value, or project type. When freelancers set their rates, there are multiple factors that determine the final number.
The cost can vary dramatically depending on a freelancer’s experience; niche writers are usually much more expensive than generalists or those at the start of their career.
Freelancers likely work on multiple projects for multiple clients simultaneously. Some may be available to help you week after week, while others only have enough bandwidth to handle one or two projects from you.
Similarly, some writers will be able to provide a one-week turnaround, whereas others may only be able to tackle a new project after a month.
Chat with your writers about their availability and establish expectations early to avoid confusion.
Like most site owners, you want to produce content that ranks — whether on search engines like Google or on shopping sites like Amazon. Each platform has a unique way of evaluating content, and an experienced freelancer can help you navigate those quirks and speak your search engine’s language.
For instance, if you’re focused on improving the visibility of your site, you’ll want someone who can optimize it for Google by following on-page SEO best practices. The strategy will differ between product pages and blogs, too, with product pages targeting high-intent keywords.
A fruitful partnership requires lots of trust; for most assignments, you’ll set deadlines and have to trust the freelancer to meet them and ask any necessary questions along the way. Unfortunately, that’s not always how it plays out.
To make sure everyone’s on the same page, talk about your expectations up front. How often will you connect with your freelancer? What platforms will you use to send updates or share files?
Just like dating, it’s possible for a freelancer to look good on paper, but fall short in practice because your work styles are different. For this reason, it’s worth setting up an intro call with your freelancer before you officially hire him or her.
You may also want to work on a test project together before jumping into a bigger, long-term engagement.
Where to find freelance writers
You can find freelance writers in many places:
- Freelance platforms – Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer.com (to name a few)
- Personal network (referrals) – Ask a former colleague, friend, or family member for any recommendations (you may be surprised with whom you’re connected)
- Job forums – Post a freelance listing to job boards like Indeed, Glassdoor Jobs, or LinkedIn
- Social media – Do a quick search or ask for help on Twitter, LinkedIn, and other relevant platforms
- Online communities – Post to relevant Slack communities and Facebook Groups asking for freelance talent
Standard freelancer rates
There is a huge range of freelancer rates. Someone who’s just starting out may charge as little as $20 per article. But most experienced or specialized writers will charge significantly higher, with the average rate being $250 to $399 for a 1,500-word blog post, according to a study by Peak Freelance. Others may charge upwards of $1,000 or more per article.
That said, freelancers may set their rates in a variety of ways. The below stats are taken from a survey by freelancer and consultant Ashley R. Cummings:
- Per project – This is the most popular method, with 40% of surveyed freelance writers using it. A writer will charge a set amount for a project, taking into consideration length, complexity, and overall scope of the project.
- Per hour – A reported 38% of freelance writers charge by the hour, which often includes any time spent researching, drafting, and editing a piece. Most freelancers who charge by the hour have rates of over $100 an hour.
- Per word – Almost one fifth (18%) of surveyed freelance writers operate through this method, charging for every word written. Most writers who take this approach charge from $0.25 to $0.35 per word — though more experienced freelancers tend to charge at least $1 per word.
- Ghostwriting premium – It’s worth mentioning that some writers may charge a premium (for example, 20% extra) if you’re looking to publish an article under a different name than theirs.
Deciding how much to spend on a freelancer is a personal choice. You may test a few writers and see who works well and meets your needs. Our best advice is not to rule out freelancers based on price alone, unless they’re completely out of your budget.
How a freelance writer can add value to your eCommerce business
Writers must create content for different angles and drive value across channels. In eCommerce, there are a few key content functions that a freelance writer should be able to handle to boost your sales and establish your brand.
1) Understand your audience
Most eCommerce writers have to understand, use, and sometimes gather market research on your audience and industry.
Your organization may have its own researchers to find and confirm marketing data. Or, you might have a single communication professional to fill both roles.
In the latter scenario, a freelance writer will have to find:
- Demographics of your target audience
- Pain points to identify the ideal sales pitch
- Audience behavior to find the most effective communication channels
- Search behavior to see how and where customers discover you
- Buyer behavior to identify the purchase driver
- Customer needs and values
- Important keywords for SEO and PPC ads
Your eCommerce writer should know how to find and use the above information to craft copy accordingly.
Tip: Run A/B tests to optimize on-page content, funnels, and CTAs.
2) Write product copy that converts
Compelling product copy draws shoppers to your listings and websites. It describes and highlights your items on your website, marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, Wish, and Walmart.com, and many other eCommerce sites.
Product copy needs to be written to rank high on search engines, optimize marketplace listing SEO, and attract potential customers. To do this well, eCommerce writers must:
Understand and implement listing best practices across every channel you sell on. There are no “one size fits all” product descriptions; you need custom content for each channel where your eCommerce store operates.
For example, Amazon uses significantly different guidelines than eBay or Etsy. Walmart Marketplace has enhanced content options to help listings stand out. Understanding how each platform works and how to make the most of marketplace search engines is crucial to ensure customers find your products.
Create compelling product listings to use in ads. Many eCommerce advertising options use the listing itself, which means your listing must have a title, a description, and captions that entice click-throughs.
To write listings that convert, an eCommerce copywriter needs to understand the target audience, their pain points, needs, and what drives them. The full listing should both describe the product accurately and sell it as a solution.
Tip: A/B test to update and tweak your listing content over time and improve results.
Write succinct copy that quickly and clearly informs shoppers about your product. A strong writer can condense a topic into a few bullet points so shoppers grasp the highlights at a glance.
Remember, your audience is time-poor. With modern consumers’ short attention span, you need to capture interest as quickly as possible.
Know how your SKU catalog works and include the relevant specifications. eCommerce writers commonly have to write about multiple items they haven’t seen or used. Your writers should understand what makes your SKUs unique, including how they work, what benefits to highlight, and which selling points are most powerful for which audience.
Product copy is one of the most prominent pieces of content in eCommerce. As such, any writer you hire needs to excel at producing copy that converts.
3) Improve your funnel
When you own a D2C website, conversion marketing comes into play at multiple touchpoints in your sales funnel. A simple buyer funnel looks like this:
- Top of funnel — This is where your buyer first discovers you. Channels can be SEO, ads, or referrals. For example, someone could discover your blog through SEO and then be introduced to your brand.
- Mid-funnel/Nurture — At this stage, you’ve already made contact, but the person isn’t ready to buy yet. For example, someone reads a blog post, then signs up for your newsletter. In this case, your emails would be mid-funnel communications, as they’re trying to nurture leads to become customers. Another example of a mid-funnel channel is a landing page from an ad. The ad is a top-of-funnel portal, and the landing page is mid-funnel, trying to get someone to convert.
- Conversion — This is the “aha” moment that every marketing element works toward. Depending on your funnel, this could be a different outcome, but in eCommerce, it’s usually a purchase.
Conversion marketing drives people through the various stages of your funnel all the way to purchase. You use it whether you sell items for a few dollars or a few thousand.
The goal is to build a process of transforming a visitor into a customer, a customer into a repeat customer, and so on. Conversion marketing normally relies on behavioral research, which should be ongoing and, ideally, have writers involved.
Overall, effective conversion marketing requires your writer to understand what your customers need to know to make a decision, what influences that decision, and what’s important to them.
Tip: Pay attention to the type of product you’re selling. If you’re a shoe store, your writer should tap into impulse purchases and try to raise the value of the shopping cart with add-ons. If you sell a higher-value item like custom windows, you should build a slow sales funnel that thoroughly informs the customer first and sells to them second.
4) Build your own website
If you don’t already have a direct-to-consumer channel, it’s time to create one. An eCommerce website gives you direct access to your shoppers and can showcase your products and solutions in their best light.
Pros of having your own website
- You get direct access to your customers, which means you can use their contact information to build a relationship. This is vital for remarketing, requesting reviews, and more. Many marketplaces forbid sellers from reaching out to customers with marketing information, or getting their contact information in the first place.
- You can highlight promotions across your website with no limits on what you can offer. For example, you could use your website banner to promote a sale or free two-day delivery. You can also add more marketing opportunities like email capture fields and sign-up forms to download a catalog.
- Marketplaces often show competing products alongside each other to give shoppers more choice. On your website, shoppers only see your products, so there’s no risk of them clicking away to a competitor. You control what your shoppers see (and that includes showcasing great reviews).
- Having your own website can be cheaper than listing on a marketplace, since you don’t have to pay marketplace fees.
However, launching a personal website also requires building and maintaining pages of content that must convert (in addition to product pages). This is where a freelance writer comes in to help get your website off the ground.
Whether optimizing your home page, product listings, category pages, or thank you pages, you must achieve a certain click-through or purchase rate and improve continuously.
5) Optimize your marketplace listings
Your freelancer should be able to refine and add style to your content, be it on your site or a marketplace. More specifically, they need to strike a balance between SEO best practices and compelling copy on all your sales channels, understanding each one’s unique ranking algorithm.
Pros of listing on a marketplace
- On popular marketplaces, you establish a presence where consumers are likely to shop. This makes them more likely to see you, activating the mere exposure effect.
- Many tools/software can help you recreate a listing on other marketplaces. This makes it more efficient to list on multiple marketplaces without consuming too much time.
- Marketplaces like Walmart and Amazon invest in their own ads and promotions, which allows you to piggyback off their efforts to win some free marketing.
- Thanks to marketplaces’ high volume and traffic, you have the potential to accumulate a large number of reviews in a short time. Social proof contributes to boosting sales, but this is a double-edged sword, as reviews can go either way.
Tip: You should maintain both a D2C website and a marketplace presence.
6) Create valuable resources for your audience
Content marketing is excellent for customer acquisition and retention, especially when you have your own website. It helps you reach your target audience by creating content that’s valuable to them.
When you run your website on Shopify, BigCommerce, WordPress, or another platform, incorporate content marketing into your blog. eCommerce stores can post blogs to highlight new products, showcase buyer reviews, answer customer questions, and optimize for keywords.
Writers need to balance serving the readers’ needs with answering their questions, selling products, and signaling high-quality content to search engines so you rank well. An effective blog will convince and convert readers to purchase.
Resources and downloadables
A common content marketing tactic is to produce resources like eBooks, infographics, and whitepapers to drive more value for readers.
Look for ways to repurpose your content to extend your efforts. For example, turn a blog into a video script for an animated video; if you write often about a particular topic, combine and edit all your blogs on that subject into a comprehensive eBook; turn a customer survey into an infographic filled with original data.
Here are a few ways to leverage these resources:
- Offer an eBook as a gift for signing up for your email newsletter.
- Create an embeddable infographic for an adjacent company’s blog in exchange for a backlink to your website.
- Provide a whitepaper exclusive to current customers to reward loyalty and encourage them to come back and shop with you.
Product inserts — such as thank you notes, discount messaging, and other helpful resources — are a great way to elevate a buyer’s unboxing experience. But, like everything else, these need to be well written and representative of your brand.
Have your freelancers help craft these messages in the same voice as your other branded content. Keep the inserts warm, personal, and inviting so buyers will be compelled to shop with you again.
7) Expand your reach
There are a variety of ways to get your brand in front of a bigger audience, including SEO (like link building) and community-building tactics (like social media). Both can boost your brand authority for search engines and consumers.
Many eCommerce stores invest in some form of link building to expand their reach and acquire customers. This often translates to guest posting with relevant websites that serve similar target audiences.
A freelance eCommerce writer can take charge of your link building efforts and implement a guest post exchange program to reach more potential customers.
For example, if you run an eCommerce repricer that automatically adjusts product prices based on what competitors charge, you should pitch a guest post exchange with listing tools that re-list products across multiple marketplaces.
Organic social media
Social media is a free marketing channel that every brand should utilize. However, social media marketing only works when you consistently engage with consumers through interesting, original content.
A freelancer can experiment with different social channels, copy, and creatives. They can repurpose your existing assets, such as blogs and videos, for social media and couple them with strong, inviting copy.
Throughout this process, freelancers should represent your brand accurately using the proper tone and voice.
8) Improve your advertising ROI
When buyers click on your ads, they expect to see content that’s highly relevant to their search query. Without tightly aligned copy, you risk losing a sale — or worse, leaving a bad impression on potential buyers.
Landing pages focus your visitors on a specific goal. They could be as short as a product page, or as long as a one-page website.
This is typically the first place someone lands after clicking on an ad, and most landing pages usually have only one primary CTA. Many even forego a website menu to avoid distracting visitors from the goal.
The best landing pages are customized for a particular audience segment, and speak directly to their unique values and/or challenges. A professional writer can outline, research, and write unique copy for custom landing pages. They should ensure the transition from the ad to the product page is smooth and optimized for more clicks, whether you advertise on a marketplace, social media, or search engine.
A freelancer can also check that your ad copy is as strong as possible. Aside from making sure it aligns with your landing page copy, they can recommend ways to tailor your ad copy for each channel and audience you target.
Consider how a freelance writer can bring an outside perspective. When you generate ad copy in-house, it’s easy to forget that people who see your ad likely don’t have the same product knowledge or biases as your team.
A freelancer can tackle ad copy with a fresh lens, helping to translate your message for the average browser. Additionally, if you deal with different ad formats (e.g., display, video, audio, or text), a freelancer can suggest the best approach for each one.
It’s rare for the first round of ads to be a homerun. Even if you think your ads look and sound great, you may be surprised to find that a different approach works better.
A freelance writer can craft a variety of ad messages to test. They can help think of creative alterations in addition to serious or more technical versions. Share your findings with your writers, too, so they can proactively make recommendations and/or learn from your past work.
9) Master your email marketing
Every email interaction is an opportunity to build trust with your customer. A strong email strategy with professionally written copy can increase your customer lifetime value (CLV) and conversion rates.
Order confirmations, thank you emails, and other transactional messages have some of the highest open rates, for obvious reasons: People want to know the status of their purchases.
Although you need to be careful not to violate any email rules and regulations (especially in transactional emails that people can’t unsubscribe from), you want your correspondence to reinforce your branding.
A freelance writer can inform buyers of their purchases in a tailored, memorable way. They can incorporate slogans (“Your order is taking flight!”) and polish the copy while providing clear instructions for processes like returns and order-related questions.
Even little actions like this can impact your customer’s view of your brand. Harness the power of well-crafted copy in emails that aren’t directly related to your marketing efforts.
eCommerce writers for D2C stores likely have access to an owned email list, unlike marketplaces, where sellers are often forbidden from emailing buyers with marketing materials. This means you’ll need to learn how to craft a nurture campaign to move someone from interest to purchase.
You may also need abandoned cart emails, new product announcements, and upsell campaigns meant to turn buyers into repeat customers.
Wrapping up – Key functions of a freelance eCommerce writer
Strong eCommerce copy is informative and value focused. You have to build trust to drive long-term relationships. While your copy should drive both sales and value, no amount of sales-only copy is enough to retain customers in the long run.
Hire an eCommerce writer to take on numerous functions and operate across marketing, sales, and communication. Depending on the size of your business, they might also be responsible for marketing research, direct outreach, and long-term content testing and management.
With an experienced professional writing effective copy, your communications will reach more leads — and convert them into customers.
Published: December 28, 2020
Updated: August 16, 2021
Updated: June 22, 2022