How does the copywriting process work?

If you have never engaged a freelance copywriter before then you may be wondering how the whole copywriting process works.

Well wonder no more!

This post will tell you how the process works from start to finish so that you can go ahead and commission that urgently needed piece of content.

I’ve also included a template for you to download, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Let’s start at the beginning

Decide what outcome you want to achieve

This might sound stupid. After all you just want some content don’t you?

But actually there’s more to it than that.

The outcome you want will change the type and style of writing you need.

For example, if the outcome you want is that you need a professional website that allows people to check your credibility and qualifications, then that is a completely different type of writing to a company that needs a sales funnel filling.

By the same token, commissioning content that will boost your search engine ranking requires someone with what’s called ‘on-page SEO’ skills.

So deciding what the output is forms a key part of writing your brief.

Write your brief

I’d always suggest putting down in writing what you are after. In media terms, this is called a ‘brief’ and it simply sets out what you are wanting and when you want it by.

I’ve produced an example project brief which you can download and use as your own and you can find it here (don’t worry you don’t have to give me your email address!).

Your brief needs to set out some housekeeping like who the writer needs to contact and their email or phone number.

It will also include stuff like a project name if you have one or maybe a Purchase Order (PO) number if your company uses them.

Importantly it will include details about your project such as deadlines, what you actually want to be delivered and what tone of voice you’d like it in. (find out about tone of voice here)

You don’t have to do a project brief but if it’s the first time you have ever worked with this particular writer then it’s a good way to start.

I have clients who just send an email with what they want and this is fine where it’s a short project and you’ve worked together before.

Find your writer

I’ve written up a guide to finding the right writer (or the write righter) here but suffice it to say that this is the point in the copywriting process that you probably want to go out and find a writer.

It’s quite usual in the industry to send out a brief to more than one writer or agency but you don’t want to overdo it.

You’ll probably be wasting the writers’ time and yours because it takes time to decide.

Be prepared to meet up or have a chat on the phone/zoom. I always prefer to do this as it can often stop misunderstandings happening.

If you’d like to know how much a copywriter costs then have a look at this post here.

Once you have chosen your writer then you need to agree terms and often your writer will ask for a deposit and possibly send a contract.

This is quite normal in the creative industries and a deposit will normally be around 1/3rd to half the eventual project cost but varies depending upon writer or agency.

The message has to be – get it in writing.

If your writer doesn’t send you a precis of what was agreed then you need to send it to them. Email is fine, hard copy is fine but write it down.

Leave them alone!

This is pretty important.

When you have agreed what you want, you’ve paid your deposit and you’ve written it down then you need to leave them alone.

Don’t start to panic until the deadline arrives.

Every time you phone your writer you are interrupting their process and you’ll slow down production.

I’d say 70% of the copywriting process is actually thinking and structuring and I can promise you that constant calls and emails don’t speed this up.

In fact this morning I was working out how to structure this post on a cycle ride down to the beach!

If you have chosen a good copywriter then you’ll get a draft copy at this point.

Make amends

This doesn’t mean you have to make up for something you’ve done wrong – amends is simply the shorthand way of saying amendments.

Most copywriters will include at least one round of free amends and you shouldn’t be shy about using this, writers are used to sending out a draft and then altering it later.

Just one point, I prefer to send out my draft in a finished version. What I mean by this is that when I send out my draft the client could just copy and paste onto their website.

Other writers will send things out with spelling or grammatical errors and then only correct at final draft stage so don’t be too disappointed if your writer works in this way but you should ask them if this is how they work ahead of time.

Agree future work

A good copywriter is hard to find and if you have happened upon one that does a good job and who you get on with then you should hang on to them.

Give them constructive feedback and if you have future work that you need doing then talk about it.

Often businesses will need regular content for things like their blog or social media so agreeing a future work plan is a good move because a good copywriter’s time will fill up quickly.

The copywriting process in a nutshell

The copywriting process then is pretty simple

1 – Decide what you want

2- Write up your brief

3 – Find your writer

4 – Agree terms and pay a deposit

5 – Wait for the output

6 – Feedback your amendments

7 – Feedback and agree future work.

So that’s it. The copywriting process in a nutshell.

If there are any questions that I haven’t answered or you want something expanded then please do leave a comment below and don’t forget to share the post if you have found it useful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *