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A couple of clients commented that the copywriting process looks a little like magic to them

Here’s what happens from their perspective…

They turn up to a Strategy Session with me, armed with nothing but “a bundle of words and a vague outline”, as one client put it.  And I sit down with them on Skype, ask them a load of questions, and get some examples of other copy they like and dislike.

Then they go away and go about their own business for a few days. And suddenly – as if by magic – awesome, professionally written copy shows up in their inbox.  That first draft they get isn’t always the final one (there’s a reason I include up to two rounds of edits in every package).  It is, however, usually pretty damn close.

Those clients commented that the actual process of getting from the Strategy Session to the professionally written copy is a mystery to them.

And it’s that mystery that this blog post is designed to solve.

blindfoldedSo what do I do after we “hang up” from our Strategy Session?

After you have a strategy session with me, I have a lot of information to organise!

All those questions you answered for me during the session?  All those “messaging gold nuggets” (as another client called them) that we dug up together? All the related copy you’ve given me for previous offerings?  And all the sites you’ve provided me with to show me what you love (and loathe)?

I need to work through all of that, and organise it all coherently.

I’ll usually spend a wee while researching other websites in a similar space to yours too. Just to see if there are any gaps they can help me to fill in.

Then, finally, it’s time to start writing!

The first thing I usually do is to look back through the library of web page / email structures I’ve built up over time.  I’m generally checking to see whether I already have something that would fit your project perfectly.  If not, I sketch out a structure that would.

Then it’s time to start putting “meat on the bones” of the structure-skeleton.  I begin to pull together specific details about your clients’ biggest problem, what they’re looking for, and how you help them get it.

I look for the feelings, the phrases and the situations that I think will resonate with your clients best.  The aim is to make sure the language lets them know that you truly “get” who they are, and what they need.  Basically, if they’re your perfect clients, they should recognise themselves at a soul-deep level in your copy.

That’s what powerful writing is all about, after all!

bikeAnd lastly, there’s the editing (oh, dear sweet gods, the editing!)

I swear to you, if you saw something I’d created at its very first “first draft” stage, you’d assume a teenager wrote it. Probably one on the verge of failing English class.

I’ve heard that for some folks, copy springs perfectly formed from their brains to dance some kind of classical ballet on the page in front of them.  Can I just acknowledge that I’m not such a person?

I’ll normally edit my “first first draft” significantly 2-3 times before it’s something I truly feel proud of. Ideally, I’ll leave a few hours – if not a full day – in between each editing round, so I’m seeing it with fresh eyes each time.

And then it’s finally, finally ready; and I send it through to you to get your feedback.

I remember the first time I shared that process with a client

I could practically hear her jaw dropping.  Her response? “OMG, I had NO IDEA there was so much going on behind the scenes!

And then, when I mentioned this to my mindful productivity coach, she asked “Have you ever considered sharing that with people?  It would probably help them understand your timeframes.

So I have. Right here in this post.

And speaking of timeframes…  here’s what you can expect

When you work with me, unless there’s something particularly unusual about your project,  you can generally expect it to take:

  • Around 3-5 working days between our Strategy Session and receiving your first draft
  • Around 2 working days between you sending me your feedback, and receiving the next draft for each round of edits

Of course, those timeframes are just a general guideline.  Sometimes you’ll get things back faster – e.g.  if you only have a few surface-level changes you need me to make, rather than rewriting entire sections.  Occasionally, they might be longer – but if so, I’ll make sure to explain why and get your agreement at the beginning of the project.

So there you go!

There it is. Your SUPERSEKRIT, behind-the-scenes look at the copywriting process. Or at least, your look at MY copywriting process.  Like everything else, there’s no one right way of doing it, of course.

So what do you think?  Any surprises in there? Anything you do differently as a writer? Any burning questions you’d like to ask?

Please to be hitting me up in the comments!

First published on Crystal Clarity Copywriting, January 2014

About the Author: Tanja Gardner
tanja gardner

Tanja Gardner is a professional copywriter, word weaver and story sculptor at Crystal Clarity Copywriting Ltd. She helps difference-makers like you write with concise, creative clarity that your readers intuitively “get”. That means they understand EXACTLY what you offer – so you can make more of a difference in their lives.

To connect with Tanja, say hello on Twitter or Facebook, or follow her blog.

Or, discover how to write a scannable web page that people actually read with her Make Your Web Page Crystal Clear  guide. It’s completely FREE when you sign up for her short-‘n’-sweet monthly writing tips.

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