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using a copywriter? what does that look like?

Recently, I noted that many people don’t actually know what a copywriter is, and that chances are high that folks might not know how to use one or what the copywriter/client workflow looks like. If you are wondering if you need a copywriter, I encourage you to read this. And, then, when you’re ready to contact your copywriter of choice, this is how it will probably go:

1. Initial Meeting. This can happen in person, on the phone or online, though personally I need at least voice on voice contact at this stage. During this meeting, the client identifies their needs and the copywriter discusses ideas and strategy. A good copywriter will ask a lot of questions at this point so that s/he can make a qualified estimate on the project and find out if there are additional components that may help the project that hadn’t been realized by the client.

2. Proposal Agreement. The copywriter will send the client a project proposal that outlines the project from their professional point of view, details their specific copywriting tasks and offers a fee schedule or price. Once the client signs off on the proposal (which can be used as a contract or a new contract can be created), many copywriters request a down payment on the work, or a retainer, before they begin.

3. Research. The research phase is where the copywriter gathers all of their information about the client, the client’s business, the industry, the competition, etc. Will probably include oral or written interviews and questionnaires that require the client’s participation.

4. Concepting. This is a critical, and almost indescribable, time for writers. There is no set time limit, no rhyme or reason, no real method. Some writers clean the house, some writers juggle, some writers eat, some writers stare at their computer screens, some writers sleep, some writers ‘doodle’ with words…and it’s during this magic time that the brilliantly creative ideas come rushing out of nothing and into the writer’s brain. BOOM. That’s it and the writing begins.

4. First Draft. Ah, the first draft. This can go one of several different ways. Basically, the client can either love it, like it and have some changes or hate it. And, it’s all okay. The entire purpose of a first draft is to give the team a place to start. It’s where the client’s information and the writer’s expertise truly meet for the first time. It is a springboard for the direction of the final piece. This conversation can easily happen on the phone, online or in person.

5. Revisions. Good copywriters listen to everything you say, and they should also contribute some solid advice and direction. This first round of revisions should reflect the collective thoughts from the first draft.

6. Second Draft. We’re getting closer now. The major kinks are worked out. Everyone is on the same page.

7. Revisions. Final tweaks are made in this last round, and it should be a quick process. Sometimes this draft comes after the copy is placed into the design of a website, brochure, etc. Changes often need to be made in order to marry the two mediums – particularly when the designer and the writer are not working collaboratively.

8. Final Draft and Payment. When the last draft is approved, the copywriter sends the final invoice and the project is complete.

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