Working with a copywriter: 9 steps towards better copy

Working with a copywriter: 9 steps towards better copy

You’ve got a business to run. 

Sorting out your content schedule is only going to cause unwanted headaches and a whole lotta lost time. So why not get help from a writing professional?

It’ll make your life easier, and your business will thank you for it.

But what’s the go with how it all works? Where do you start? 

 

The copywriting process: From start to finish

First contact:

It can be a phone call or an email. But somebody’s got to get the ball rolling.

If you’ve emailed a copywriter about a new project, try and get on the phone with them and have what’s known as a “discovery call”.

How it works:

  • Usually takes around 15-20 minutes
  • Helps you get a feel for the working style and personality of the copywriter
  • Gives the copywriter clearer idea of the scope of the work
  • Helps develop an idea of the ballpark price before official quote
  • Sets up the work schedule and steps moving forward

 

Briefing Documents

This is the backbone of any successful copywriting project. Skimp out on this part and you’ll quickly find that your shiny new copy is going the way of the Dodo – and fast.

And while you may have the most intimate knowledge of what your business does and how it can become even better, the copywriter you’ve linked up with doesn’t.

Not yet anyway.

You need to help them with as much detail as possible so they can get your message across.

Keys to an on point written brief:

  • Try and get as much detail as possible
  • Contact the copywriter by phone or email with any questions about the document
  • It can take a while, so make sure you’ve got some time pout aside to get it done properly

 

Proposal + Terms and Conditions

This is where things get a little formal. Your new copywriting team mate will use all of your briefing information to  put together a customised proposal the best suits your copywriting needs.

This document covers all the official parts of the contract, including:

  • Project scope: This is exactly what work will be done. Anything you think of later that is outside of this may be charged as an extra fee.
  • Timeframes and deadlines: It’s nice to know when you’ll be receiving your drafts, edits etc. 
  • Costs: All the copywriting fees that are involved and the timeline for payment terms.
  • Terms and Conditions: These can be a bit of a slog to get through, but it’s essential that you read and understand these before you sign on to the project. You don’t want to be paying for something you didn’t agree upon.

 

50% up front payment

This is an area that can surprise some people new to working with a copywriter.

What if the work is no good?

What if I’m not feeling the working relationship with the copywriter?

All valid questions.

It should be noted that it’s a risk for both parties when initially signing up to a new copywriting project. The client is assuming that the copywriter will get the work done on time and on budget. While the copywriter has to have faith that the client will pay up.

So it’s a system that works.

Some things to note about this:

  • Some copywriters will only require a 50% payment if the total quote is over a certain threshold – say $1000. If it’s under, payment could be required in full.
  • Work will not commence until the first payment is made.
  • The remaining 50% is due once the first draft is delivered ( generally with payment terms of 14 days)

 

Phone Briefing

Once the first payment is made. You’ve officially booked a slot in your copywriter’s schedule.

It’s time to have an extended phone briefing to really get into the nitty gritty of your project. This is where you go into details about timings, scope and any other part of the process you might have some questions about.

What’s in a briefing call?:

  • Usually takes an hour or so (depending on the project size)
  • Covers project schedule and timings
    • When is the first draft due?
    • When will the invoices be sent?
    • How will I receive and edit my new copy?
  • Lots of information: You’ll need to give your copywriter as much information as possible for the project to get off to a flying start

 

First draft

This is the bedrock of the project. It’s a key milestone for both you and the copywriter.

Here’s why:

  • With a submitted first draft, around 80% of the project is now complete.
  • It gives you your first opportunity to go over the work and see if it has stuck to the brief
  • There will be lots of minor errors (spelling and proofing). Don’t sweat it, they get fixed during the following round of amendments
  • If the structure or tone are off (this is a big deal) then it’s best that you pick up the phone or shoot off an email to your copywriter and try and revisit the brief with them. 

 

Revisions and amendments

Now it’s time to fine tune that brand new copy. 

The final 20% of the work is done during the revisions stage. It’s critical that you provide notes and feedback to your copywriter so they can tidy up and finalise the right words for your project.

How the revision stage works:

  • Most copywriters will include two free rounds of amends for each project
  • Edits outside of this will incur an out of scope charge. Make sure you think carefully about any changes you might want to send back to your copywriter.
  • Two weeks is roughly the standard time to work with through the revisions

Final draft

After all of the larger edits and revisions, your copywriter has one job left to do: Proofreading.

  • This covers smaller issues like spelling and grammar.
  • Copywriters will outsource their work to an independent proof reader before sending across the final version of your copy

 

End of project sign off

So that’s it. You’ve got your new copy and can do with it as you please.

Not true.

Until you’ve approved the copy via an end of project sign off form, and paid your final 50% invoice, the copy is still the property of your copywriter.

This means:

  • You can’t legally use it on any platform, be it online or in print.
  • Once you have signed off, the copyright is transferred and you can make as many changes as you wish. It’s all yours.

 

Choosing the right copywriter

There’s a heap of talented copywriters out there. Finding the right one can be a tricky exercise. But with these tips in hand, you can make sure that you know how it all works when you decide to pick up the phone and make the first move towards a more successful business.

If you’re still feeling a little lost, or want to find out some more info straight  from the horse’s mouth, contact me today for an obligation free discovery call to get the ball rolling.

DIY copywriting: How to write a website homepage that works

DIY copywriting: How to write a website homepage that works

As clear as mud.

Not the way you’d want somebody to describe your website homepage, right?

But it happens – often.

Your homepage is the most important page on your website. It’s where most browsers end up, and if it doesn’t strike a chord straight away, you can watch that bounce rate soar high into the distant sky.

So, how do you get it right?

Keep it clear and concise.

Creating a great first impression for any potential customers requires clarity and efficiency.  It needs to welcome people in, let them know what you can do, and show ‘em where to go.

“You website homepage copy should be clear and concise.
Let ’em know what you do, and who you do it for.”

What’s in a website homepage?

Remember, your homepage copywriting is going to be doing a lot of heavy lifting.

You’ve put the time in to get people on to your page, don’t give them a helping hand on the way out because you’ve gotten your messaging wrong.

Here’s what your homepage copywriting should include:

  • What your business does
  • Who it does it for
  • Features and benefits of your product or service
  • Brand personality
  • Easy navigation

That’s some important stuff, and you’ve got to get it right.

So, what does this look like? And what elements do you need to include?

Headline or hero message

Get off to a flying start with a short, sharp headline or hero message.

This is the first bit of copy that browsers will lay their eyes on. So it needs to be catchy, and it needs to engage.

An effective hero statement tells customers two things:

  • What you do
  • Who you do it for

Here’s a look at how Adobe draw readers in:

‘All together now’ – Adobe get everybody involved with their to-the-point headline and hero message.

When done well, readers will know exactly if they’re in the right place, and if you can help them. With any luck, they’ll have no option but to explore further.

List of services

You’ve got their attention.

Now it’s time to hit ‘em with your best.

A brief summary of your services or products serves as a gateway for any customers to click and have a deeper look around. There’s that clarity they want –  what you do, and where to find it.

Your descriptions should be light on content with a few simple guidelines:

  • Keep them short and simple. A little blurb with an icon works well.
  • Focus on the benefits, don’t just list a bunch of features.
  • Be specific in how you can help.

Speak the right language and avoid unnecessary jargon.

Simple and effective. Here’s how your services/product copy can help your readers explore:

jomepage website copywriting services
Image, title, blurb and call to action. That’s all a reader needs to get to the right page.

Short bio

Who is this person and why should I trust them?

Browsers are going to ask a few questions when they land on your site.

You need to be able to answer them.

A friendly picture and short bio will put to rest any fear or suspicion of who readers are dealing with. It highlights who you are, without diving too deep.

An effective bio section, should be:

  • Brief and direct – Highlight the core aspects about you and your business.
  • Light, yet professional – Showcase your personality to connect with your readers.
  • Credible – Throw in some career highlights to build trust in your experience and abilities.
  • Navigational – Don’t forget to link to you ‘About’ page, where readers can discover more about you and your business.

Tip: Briefly touching on how your business started is a great way to use story telling to engage readers.

Reviews, testimonials and logos

Customers need to know they’re making a smart investment.

They need to know they’re dealing with a business that has a track record of success. 

And that’s fair enough.

Even with all the right website copy and on-point messaging, you have to show some proof. 

Let everybody see that you know what you’re on about, and include the following on our website’s homepage:

  • Brand logos of past clients
  • Testimonials and reviews from happy customers
  • Positive PR and feedback off social media

Numbers and stats

Who doesn’t love a good set of graphics and stats to make lots of information that little bit easier to digest?

Nah? Just me?

Including some specific numbers and stats can really aid the rest of your copy on your website homepage. It acts as a visual guide for readers and helps put into context all the amazing work you’ve done to help your customers.

Paired with simple graphics, or nestled into its own neat little section, numbers can work wonders for your business.

Clearwater Agency shows you how they’ve helped their clients grow:

Highlighting the concrete numbers from past projects will strengthen your website homepage.

Some numbers you don’t want to miss:

  • The amount of projects you’ve worked on – This drives home how experienced you are.
  • Clients you’ve dealt with – Great insight into your long term business relationships.
  • Products sold – Nothing says ‘leading industry figure’ more than some solid sales numbers.
  • Money you’ve brought in for your clients – Cold hard numbers are all you need to show that your business is a worthwhile investment.

Sharp calls to action

So you’ve kept your readers hooked. 

They love what you’ve got to say and you’ve proven that you can assist them.

Job done. Well… not quite.

You need to get these browsers to take action.

What does that mean?

You may want any potential customers to:

  • Submit a contact form
  • Pick up the phone and give you call
  • Share that new blog post you’ve written
  • Subscribe to your email newsletter
  • Purchase a product or service

And to do this, you need some crystal clear calls to action — a button, link, or form that moves the reader along their buyer’s journey.

Keep it action focused and make sure they’re easy to see after each section of copy on your website homepage.

Website optimisation wizards Crazy Egg get straight to the point with their call to action:

Crazy Egg makes it almost too easy to check out your website’s Heatmap. There’s no confusion about what the reader needs to do.

Conclusion

Effective copywriting on your website homepage can seem daunting.

If it doesn’t speak to the reader, it can seriously mess up gaining traction with your target audience.

And that isn’t on.

But if you follow the above steps, keep it stripped back to its bare essentials, and maintain clarity of who you are and how you can help, you’ll have a hard time getting people to leave.

So there you have it.

Your simple-as guide to sorting out an effective homepage. 

Think you’re ready to have a crack at it?

Of course you are.

But if it all seems a little too much, and that blank page is still screaming at you — even after breaking it all down — it might be time to hit up a professional website copywriter to right those wordy wrongs.

Once you start swimming in those new leads, you won’t be disappointed you did.

Need a hand with your website copywriting? No problem. I can sort that out. 

Get in touch and we can get the ball rolling.

5 ways to beat writer’s block and create better content

5 ways to beat writer’s block and create better content

At some point along the way, most writer’s will run into the wonderful creative dead end of writer’s block.

It hits hard and can take a bit of time to shake.

Ideas just don’t flow like they should and you end up in a battle of wits with a laptop screen for an indefinite time frame.

Sound familiar?

Of course it bloody does.

And what if you’re not a writer?

What if you’re a business owner who wants to write their own website, flyers, or emails?

The longer you spend on the next sentence, the less time you’re working on your actual business. 

It’s time down the toilet that you might not get back.

I’ve put together 5 simple ways to beat writer’s block and get back to what you do best – running your business.

 

“No matter how blocked you may be, you still have the capacity to imagine something new—no matter how small and silly it may seem”

Read a bunch and take notes

It’s the yin and yang of literacy.

Reading and writing.

Reading a wide and varied amount of different sources means you’ll have more to draw on when attempting to craft new ideas and messaging in your copy.

With more input, there is more output.

Sounds like exactly what we could all do with.

And when I say reading, it doesn’t have to be Atwood or Hemingway (I mean, that doesn’t hurt). 

It can be your favourite blog, news column or even your competitors website copy. The more you take in, the more you’ll have to get out.

And it’s simply not enough to just read.

I mean, that’s great.

But just like back in school, the only way to reinforce and strengthen your own understanding of the concepts on the page in front of you, is to make sure you’re jotting down key points.

This solidifies the fundamentals of what you’re reading.

What’s the writer saying?

Who are they saying it to?

Without the notes, it’s too easy for that information to just slide on into that already stressed out mind of yours, and then straight back out.

One of the great parts about reading to help your writer’s block is that the further removed you are from your own writing, the more left-field your ideas will get. 

Yeah it’s great to stay on point and on message, writing copy compels you to do that. 

But if you can find some new language, or concepts that may seem foreign to whatever business you’re writing for, you stand a great chance at finding a truly unique sticking point that others just won’t.

And that’s something all writers strive for.

Do a little free writing

If you’re struggling to get a single word on the page, a little warm up might help.

Just like most activities, the more you practice, the more fluent the action that follows.

It works for sports, it works for musicians. It works for writers too.

One of the most often touted techniques to spark a flurry of new ideas is to simply free write regularly. 

But what is it?

Free writing is the concept of shutting up that inner editor that’s always talking you down from one idea to the next. 

It’s the fluid escape of ideas from your mind while you do one thing: write.

No punctuation.

No spelling.

No grammar.

Just get those damn ideas on the page, screen, parchment or even the cave wall

Whatever.

Get. It. On. The. Page.

It’s brilliant for finding any ideas that may be relevant to your current task, or maybe not — it doesn’t matter

As long as the words are there. 

Once you have all of these ideas in front of you, it becomes easier to see everything as a collective whole. Drawing connections between concepts that may have seemed alien to each other prior.

And if it’s crap? Good.

Kind of like a golfer on the driving range. Get those average shots out of you before you hit the actual course.

You’ll be prolific, in the zone, and ready to focus on the content and messaging that your business copy needs.

Ultimately, this exercise frees up your imagination and allows different perspectives that get a little clouded when you have too much to think about them. 

It’s a short and sweet task that will make your writing way more engaging and fun to read.

beating writer's block by exercising

Get yourself moving – go for a walk

This is one I need to do a lot more of.

Walking or exercise can be a great way to inspire creativity when your writing’s in a bit of a slump.

It could be regular exercise, or it could be when you’re stuck at your desk with absolutely no clue on how the next sentence is ever going to get written.

All you need to know — movement is key.

Let’s be honest, we’re not supposed to be sitting down all day, and writing just can’t be done while standing around moving.

But, the inspiration for plenty of great writing can come from a little bit of fresh air and a change of location.

Going for a walk breaks up your writing session.

It encourages some time away from that pesky text that just isn’t working

And I’m sure a lot of you out there already do this. 

You can get a little crazy sitting in front of the glow of a computer monitor all day. 

We know walking relaxes us and that it’s good for our health. But it’s even better for igniting our memory and sharpening our attention.

Compared to sitting, walking means we’re exerting physical energy. And if your muscles are moving, so is your mind.

And hey, if you really want to push it, take an extended break and get on down to your pool for a few laps. Or if you’re lucky enough, hit up the beach or lake or creek or…

You get it.

Just go for a swim.

Because as you’ve probably guessed, if walking sparks up our energy and creative thoughts, how bloody well would some aerobic exercise do it?

Very well actually

So if the words have got you down, close the laptop, step away from the desk, and get outside.

Try some other creative activities

Now as creative as we can all get when writing, it can feel laborious and little tiring at times.

Sometimes it’s not the creative task that you should be doing. 

You’re creative itch needs to be scratched some other way.

This is where you put the pen down and pick up the paint brush.

Or guitar.

Or the gardening gloves.

Or anything else that you enjoy and allows you to get creative.

It might be getting stuck back into your business if that’s what drives you the most.

It doesn’t need to be anything you feel competent in. It just needs to be stimulating and hopefully rewarding.

Having any hobby that you do for your own enjoyment is exactly the kind of activity that removes you from the writing process and gets the creative juices flowing.

Getting into the garden to do some weeding, baking some delicious food, writing a song that only you’ll ever hear.

It’s all good.

Why not do some problem solving?

If you’re a video gamer, just get stuck into whatever level it was the last time you piffed the controller out the window.

Do something you enjoy and forget about writing.

But remember, if you end up getting too distracted by whatever you decide to do, that means you’ve crossed over into procrastination purgatory. 

Now nothing gets done.

So keep a timer on it, have a bit of fun. And then get back to the blank page.

 

“Getting involved in something else we enjoy helps us remember that writing is an important part of us, yes, but it’s not everything.”

Set a timer and just go! 

Ok, we’ve given everything else a crack, and it just isn’t working.

Read a bunch of stuff? Check

Written some ridiculous thoughts down? Done.

Gone for a walk? Just got back.

And…

Still nothing. nada . zilch.

Here’s the final tip.

Set the timer, and just write about your topic. 

This isn’t the same as free writing. If you’re working from a brief, then write down any ideas that come directly from it. 

Stay on topic.

This is going to give you a pile of writing to pick something from.

This allows you to throw a bunch of stuff about your subject at a wall and try and make it stick. 

Even if it’s just paraphrasing the brief.

Or going onto Google and jotting down some notes of stuff you didn’t know.

Something is definitely better than nothing.

And with your timer hitting zero, you’ll find you’ve actually achieved something.

Even if it’s just a little research

That’s a win.

It’s these little arbitrary constraints that allow you to break up whatever monumental task you have before you and turn into smaller chunks — a great way to make your writing goals instantly more attainable.

Personally, I love to use the Pomodoro timer online. Every time I’ve got it on, I feel like the time just flies by.

And yeah, at the end, I’ve got a mountain of crap writing. But there’s always something useful.

Something that kicks off the next big idea or lead. 

Not bad, I reckon.

Find what works for you

Writer’s block can be a struggle for even the most gifted writers.

Having some simple exercises gives you the power and motivation to get your brand’s message and benefits onto the screen.

If you’re lacking ideas, take a break, get up and do something else and always come back fresh.

Yeah it can be a little time consuming, but it’s essential to finding something that wasn’t there before.

And hey, if all else fails. And you’re this close to throwing your computer in the bin, why not get in touch with a professional business copywriter.

Let me scream at my screen and you get back to your business.

 

Need a hand with your business copy? Sweet. That’s what I do. 

Get in touch and we can get started.