One of the biggest obstacles to a new copywriting project isn’t the writing itself, but the process. Everybody works in different ways, and when you’re working with a new client you need a clear, quick and simple way to get from point A to point B. If you’re spending more time than necessary on the logistics of a copywriting project, you’re reducing its value and your own earning power. Which, suffice to say, isn’t good news. This means you need a system in place to make sure your next project runs as smoothly as…erm…well, something really smooth. Similes aren’t my strong point. Anywho, just read these five blinkin’ tips to streamline your copywriting process.
Set Realistic Expectations
The worst thing you can do when starting a new copywriting project is overpromising. So right from the beginning of the project, you’ve got to agree clear and realistic expectations with the client. If they want you to rush through it quicker than you think is possible, you’ve got to push back against them.
It can be very easy to acquiesce to all the demands of a client. You don’t want to lose valuable income – and that’s understandable. But setting realistic expectations will help you produce the best quality work possible, and also sets a boundary between you and the client for future projects.
Make it Easy for the Client to Write a Brief
Unless your client has some copywriting experience themselves, it’s unlikely they’re going to fire off a detailed brief that covers every nook and cranny of the project. So make it as easy as possible for them. As a copywriter, I find it’s a good idea to have your own copywriting brief template that you can send over to clients to fill in. What should that contain?
- Project overview: start and end dates, a summary of the project, who the work should be sent to, the name of the copywriter – things like that.
- Project information: the type of content (web pages, blogs, landing pages), information about the client, target audience, tone of voice, competitors.
- Deliverables: number of pieces of content and word counts.
If it helps, I’ve put together a simple copywriting brief template that you can use for yourself. It’s only intended as a guide, so feel free to download a copy and make changes as you see fit.
Write a Sample Bit of Copy for your Copywriting Process
Writing the first piece of copy for any client is terrifying. You never quite know how they’re going to react, no matter how many times you’ve done this before.
If you reach the point of actually writing the content, and you’re still unsure, why not write a sample piece to make sure you’re going down the right route? This could save a lot of time in the future and also reassure your client that you’ve got the right idea. If it’s not quite right, it’s better to know right now than 5,000 words later. And I write that from (painful) experience. Ahem. Let’s move on.
Use Google Drive (or similar)
final final version.doc
final final version version v2.doc
final final version v3 FINAL.doc
It’s enough to give you shivers. Sending Word documents back and forth is absolutely no way to deliver a copywriting project. It’s easy to lose track of changes, people can make edits willy-nilly and you end up with about 17 different files on your computer. No. No. No. I find this way is much more efficient:
- Create a new document on Google Drive, or OneDrive, or any cloud-based software
- DON’T share it with the client until it’s finished!
- Work your copywriting magic
- When you’re ready to share it with the client, make it comment-only so they can’t make changes you’re not aware of
- Make the requested edits and confirm the final version with the client
On the subject of step number two, there’s probably nothing worse than sharing a cloud document with a client before it’s finished.
First, you’ll see a little icon appear at the top of the screen: Anonymous Aardvark. Anonymous Badger. Anonymous Kiwi. Then you’ll see the little cursor hovering over your work, analysing it, assessing it, poring over every word and bullet point. It’s the cloud equivalent of a teacher looking over your shoulder as you write an essay.
So don’t do it.
Make Edits to Your Copy in Rounds or Windows
If you stick to the method outlined above, you can also make sure that clients make any edits to your work in batches, rather than little bits at a time. There’s nothing worse than making a small edit on Friday morning, then a couple more in the afternoon, and – oh, sorry! – just a few more changes on Monday morning.
This adds extra time to your project and just makes it less efficient. So encourage your client to make all of their changes in separate rounds. You’ll save time for both of you and streamline your copywriting process.
Continue Reading: 5 Steps to Start Freelance Copywriting as a Side Hustle
About the Author
Nick Harland is the founder of Big Bang Copy, a copywriting agency that does things differently. He writes about all things copywriting – for anyone that cares to listen! Feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn for more writing tips.