Working With a Copywriter: Five Things To Consider
So, you or your brand are ready to start working with a copywriter. Awesome! A skilled copywriter can bring an influx of creativity to your project, freshen up messaging and how your team thinks about messaging, as well as help move existing content from dull to dynamic with just a few tweaks.
Like any partnership, there are things that you: the brand, business, or entrepreneur can do going into a writing relationship to make it strong and productive. To that end, here are five guidelines that will set you and your copywriter up for a successful and fun experience.
- Writers are not mind readers. And great written communication doesn't just 'happen' so get ready to talk! When you start your project with a copywriter, come ready to share and spill all of your ideas. They don't have to be perfect and they don't even have to be fully developed, but just telling a writer you want something written generally isn't enough. In order to make sure your article, white paper, blog post, website...whatever, reflects what your company or brand is all about, you need to know what you want said (and why) before your copywriter picks up her pen. Providing as many details as possible helps ensure that the first draft gets off on the right foot, as well as subsequent drafts or editions. Which leads me to point #2...
- Writing is a process. As tempting as it is to think everything your copywriter writes will be impeccable and 100% on-point...please don't. Sure, sometimes writers can knock a draft out of the park on the first try...particularly if they've been working with you for awhile, but in general, writing is a process and it's absolutely normal to expect several drafts of content to pass back/forth before content is finalized and the publish button is clicked. So don't panic if the initial draft needs revisions or think the copywriter isn't a good fit. A first draft should be looked at as a means to really dialing into what you do and don't want to say, which often isn't fully realized until you see your words in print, and then read back to yourself what it is you thought you wanted to say vs. what you actually did say. Give yourself and your writer the time she needs to pen the perfect turn of phrase and then work through the edits together. The end result will be worth it.
- Give clear feedback. As much as possible, provide clear, detailed...deliberate feedback. Vague statements such as, "It's just not right", or "It's way too long", without supporting statements such as "500 words is the maximum", etc., is an exercise in futility, and a surefire way to frustrate both you and the writer. Instead, try saying things like: "I love this topic", or "please cut that phrase", or "strike our tagline and add our vision statement", or "highlight our new haircare product/skincare serum, etc". Detailed feedback of this kind is what produces the best copy, and as the writer becomes comfortable and well versed in your brand's voice and approach, the fewest revisions.
- Have realistic expectations of time. As a general rule, copywriters need time to do what we do best: write for you. Sure, not every writing project should take weeks and weeks to complete, and there will be occasions where your project is a rush or needs to be done immediately, but those should be the exception, not the rule. Large branding projects, websites, feature length articles or corporate presentations...you already know that these are complex undertakings, and the writing needs to reflect that, which means, the writing will need time. I'm not saying it's OK for your copywriter to take three months to write one article, but a week or two shouldn't be too much to ask.
- And finally, don't try and re-write what some other brand has already written. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, and sure, you may think it's no big deal to write something that is almost identical to what some other brand or business has already said, but in the world of content, it's illegal, and to a writer, just straight up painful. Instead, find an angle about the already covered topic that is unique or pivotal to your business and write about that. Or highlight how your product/service/offering impacts the topic in a compelling way. Trust me, it's much more fun to write about those things than trying to figure out how to re-say what was already said, without sounding like you are re-saying...well, you get it.
And there you have it: our take on how to establish a kick-ass partnership with your copywriter. What are some of your best practices?