What’s the process of working with a copywriter?

in Working with a copywriter

Well, perhaps more accurately, ‘what’s the process of working with this copywriter?’ I would guess most copywriters follow a similar approach to me, but there will undoubtedly be differences in style. In any case, I hope what follow is a useful guide to what to expect whether you choose to work with me or with another copywriter.

Stage one – copywriting enquiry

The first interaction we’ll have is when you get in touch about the project you need a copywriter for.

We’ll arrange a convenient time for an initial conversation in the next couple of days. The conversation is a good opportunity to see if we think we could work together well and for you to ask any questions you may have. It’s also my opportunity to find out a little more about:

  • you and your business
  • the project you need a copywriter for
  • your timescale.

Assuming the conversation has gone well and you’d like to proceed, the next step is for me to put a proposal together. I’ll confirm in our conversation when I’ll have this with you but it’s typically a day or two after we’ve spoken. (In my experience, there are two reasons why we wouldn’t move to the next step. The first is that our timescales don’t match because you need a copywriter more urgently than I’m able to help. The second is that I don’t have – or feel I have – the right experience you need to get the best possible result from your project. In either case I’ll point you in the direction of other copywriters I think might be able to help.)

The proposal I send to you will contain:

  • a brief recap of your business
  • your requirements for the project as known at this stage (i.e. the practical details such as the size of the leaflet, the length of the article, the number of website pages etc)
  • your aims for the project (i.e. what you hope it will achieve – more orders, more sign ups, more bookings etc)
  • a suggested scope of work (i.e. the services I would provide if you engaged me to work on your project aside from the copywriting elements; depending on the project this might include interviewing customers to get the information required for the case study, working alongside your designer to make sure design and copy were in harmony, uploading blogs to your website, scheduling social media posts about the new content that has been published etc)
  • a tentative timescale based on my schedule at the time of writing
  • a price, including the deposit details and terms.

I’ll typically send this proposal in the body of an email but if you need something more formal I can provide it on a letterhead in PDF format and/or supply a formal quote.

Stage two – copywriting brief

So, we’ve had our initial conversation, I’ve provided a proposal, you’ve accepted it and paid the deposit and we’ve confirmed the schedule. (I suspect I’ve been incredibly lucky in my career to date in that I can count the number of clients who’ve skipped off with my work and used it without paying for it on the fingers of one hand. But once bitten, twice shy: by asking for a deposit I can be sure you are as serious about the project as I am.)

The next step is the brief. This is where I start to get to know your business and your project in depth.

To do this, we’ll arrange a time for another conversation. We can have this over the phone, via Skype or face-to-face, whichever makes most sense. The length of time we’ll need will vary depending on the scope of the project, but think in terms of at least an hour, particularly so if this is the first time we’ve worked together.

I’ll give you the questions I’ll be asking in advance so I don’t ambush you with anything unexpected and you have time to gather your thoughts and any information that’s required. As you’ll know from your own experience, the work you do is only as good as the information you’ve got so it’s far better to equip me with too much information than too little. You can also trust me with sensitive or off-the-record information if it helps give me a complete, honest background – think of me as a member of your team, not an outsider you need to present your best face to.

After our conversation, I’ll follow up with an email confirming any last minute details plus the date by which I’ll have a first draft with you.

Stage three – writing the copy

Once I’ve been fully briefed by you, I’ll start the process of drafting copy. Before I start writing this will cover understanding your product or service in more depth, researching your target market, looking at your competitors and more.

I’ll deliver the first draft of the copy by the date agreed. It will typically be in Word format at this stage because this makes it easy for you to add comments etc. It’s also easier to focus on the content of the copy rather than being distracted by design elements.

You offer feedback, either via email or on the phone. If there are amendments needed, I’ll work on these and send over a second draft. My quote covers unlimited amendments – you’re paying me for the output of my time, not my time itself. Having said that, the work we did at the briefing stage means it’s incredibly rare for me for a piece of work to need more than one or two rounds of feedback. The only scenario where we’d revisit the quote is if the project requirements changed.

Stage four – getting the copy ready for the outside world

Once you’ve signed off the Word version of the copy, I’ll prepare the final invoice, which you’ll receive on the last working day of the month in which you signed the copy off.

The next step is to get the copy ready for the outside world so it can start to do its job. My role at this stage is to make your life as easy as possible so I can provide support to a greater or lesser extent depending on what you need and we agreed in the proposal.

Whatever the case, I’ll be excited to see the finished result out there. I’ll also be interested to hear about any feedback you’ve received or the results you’ve got if you have time to share these with me.

And that’s it – the process of working with a copywriter from start to finish.

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