What to look for in a financial writing sample

When you’re looking to outsource you financial copywriting, there’s an old adage it’s worth remembering, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating”. That means when you’re looking for a good freelance financial copywriter, don’t just go on reputation or even recommendation. Ask for a financial writing sample.

Choosing a writer

Even before you get to the point of asking for sample of their work, you need to find two or three options. How do you find them? Take recommendations from peers. Look out for good content and find the author. Or you just Google it – but don’t just go for the top few results. Drill down the pages and find those with a portfolio of work that reflects what you want.

Once you’ve found them, approach them about working on a financial writing sample for you. Choose a small test project, such as a short blog. That way if it’s not great, or needs to be overhauled it won’t matter. But be willing to pay, because any decent writer won’t work for free, even on a test project.

Can they get voice?

A good writer doesn’t just know their AUM (assets under management) from their KYC (know your customer), they need to be able to write for ‘you’. They need to understand your brand and its voice. And to write in a compelling way that’s consistent with your other written communications. So, when they deliver their financial writing sample, keep this in mind, be analytical and show it to colleagues for their feedback.

It’s not all about the writing

Putting a writer to the test, before you commit to working with them isn’t just about what they write. It’s about how they communicate. What’s their process? Do they get in touch regularly? Are they easy to talk to? How do they respond to feedback on their work? These ‘soft skills’ are just as important as the financial writing sample itself, if not more so. Remember, it’s relatively easy to find a good writer, but it’s much harder to meet someone you’ll enjoy working with over the long term.

Tick-tock

Deadlines matter. That should go without saying. But, well, for some writers, deadlines are more of a guide, than something immoveable. So, when you commission your financial writing sample, set a clear deadline. That way, you’ll if your freelance copywriter understands the importance of hitting them, and the negative impact of not doing so.

Working across teams

It may not be something you test out with your financial writing sample, but an ability to work with teams other than marketing is important. There will likely be projects where working with the Compliance and/or Legal team will be vital. Depending on how often you see this coming up, you may want to make this part of the process when you commission your financial writing sample.

Engaging your audience

When a writer puts pen to paper for you, their understanding of the reader is key. A financial writing sample will show you how well the writer is able to put themselves into the readers’ shoes. And you’ll need to do the same when reading the sample. Does it connect with your audience? Has the freelance copywriter created that vital engagement? If not, you may want to commission a financial writing sample from another freelance writer.

Red Flags

If a writer isn’t willing to do a one-off test project to give you the financial writing sample you need, that’s a worry. And if they want you to commit to more work, over the long term, based on faith alone, that’s a red flag too. We’d suggest you steer clear.

At Alex Genn Copywriting we’d always rather you test us out. The reason for that is, it tells you more about us than just looking at a financial writing sample on our website. A live project shows you how we respond to your brief, communicate and work, day-to-day – and of course, it gives you that all-important proof of the pudding. Yum.

Alex Genn

View posts by Alex Genn
I run a team of 25 senior-level copywriters and am myself a professional copywriter with over 15 years' experience.
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