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.