5 tips for working with a copywriter (spoiler: it’s not rocket science)
By Carolyn McMurray, SOCIATE’S Junior Copywriter & Blogstar
Yes, you might be paying them for a service, but making a copywriter’s job easier will indefinitely make the work they produce for you better. It’s less about being a nice person and more about giving them as much information as possible. It’s a bit like going into a patisserie and ordering a custom-made birthday cake. That baker needs a whole lot more information than, “it’s for my daughter’s 6th birthday.” They need to know your vision, your daughter’s likes and dislikes, and your budget.
It seems like a given, but you’d be surprised at the number of clients I’ve worked with who didn’t have a clue about what they actually wanted. The number of times I’ve had to go off a hunch, even after pushing for more information. Don’t be that kind of client. Be a dream to work with.
Why do I even need a copywriter in the first place?
Before we dive into the ‘how’ let’s take a look at the ‘why.’ Why do you even need a copywriter in the first place? You’ve got an in-house marketing team. They might not be English buffs but they know how to string a sentence together, so why pay more for a copywriting service?
First off, copywriters do nothing but write all day. Literally. They’ve spent years honing their craft, years analysing dictionaries and thesauruses, and years coming up with creative ‘taglines’ and phrases. They know how to take a simple, one-line sentence and turn it into something magical. They know the power of cadence and rhythm. It’s what they’re trained to do. They’re experts in their field, and expertise almost always translates into a better outcome for your business.
Take the example of a customised birthday cake. You wouldn’t go to TESCO or Sainsbury’s for a showstopping one-of-a-kind cake. Sure, they might sell a few cakes here and there but it’s not their specialism. They’re a supermarket. They sell all sorts of things. If you really wanted an amazing cake you’d go to an artisan baker or patisserie chef. It’s the same with copywriting.
5 tips for working with a copywriter
1. Give them a solid brief
As copywriters, we’re skilled at our craft. We know words like the back of our hand, but that doesn’t mean we can read your mind. Nobody knows your business or idea better than you do, so please brief us! Tell us who your target audience is and don’t just say ‘everyone,’ or ‘I don’t know.’ This is a vital piece of information that will guide our writing process. Imagine this: you’ve just created a shiny new piece of tech and your biggest buyers are fintech companies. They know a lot about tech and don’t shy away from jargon. Imagine the catastrophe of telling a copywriter to craft a website about that product for ‘everyone.’
Everyone is a pretty big percentage of the population, so how we are supposed to target effectively with our copy? We might end up over-explaining technical concepts, even though your primary buyers are people who already know the language. The result? You end up with a website that’s all over the place. The messaging is inconsistent and you’re not speaking to your big buyers (and that means you’re not pulling them in either).
Another crucial part of the briefing process is your objectives. You’ve got to let us know what you’re hoping to achieve with this writing. Do you want to bring in more leads? Get more people to sub to your newsletter? Whatever it is, make the purpose clear. It’s the only way we’ll be able to craft compelling CTAs (call-to-actions) that help push your objectives.
2. Talk to them
The majority of copywriters are quiet people. We like our space. We don’t mind working alone, and some of us (myself included) happen to be painfully shy. It’s one of the reasons we chose a profession that requires working with words. This doesn’t mean we don’t want to talk to you though – we just don’t want to have to chase you. Instead of just sending us the brief over email, ask us if we’d like a chat over the phone or on Zoom. Not all copywriters will need this kind of interaction, but some will find it immensely helpful (surprise; we’re not all the same).
A little face-to-face interaction can actually really help the writing process. Hearing your passion and having the chance to ask questions in the moment can make it a lot easier to come up with a stellar first draft. It also speeds up the process and limits back and forth communication. If we know exactly what we need to do and what you want, we won’t need to come after you. A nice little call can stop things from getting lost in translation.
3. Trust them
There’s nothing worse than being stalked by an alligator, especially if that alligator is anonymous and in Google Docs. Copywriters are pretty easy people to work with, but having someone breathe down our neck while we’re working on a piece of writing is a no-no. That, in the politest way possible, means backing off a bit once the project’s off the ground. Sure, ask questions and check in but don’t come in announced.
Whenever I see ‘anonymous crocodile’ in Google Docs, I freeze up. I stop writing. My flow goes cold. You’re not doing your copywriter any favours by stalking them in the dark. I’m sure Picasso wouldn’t have liked people eyeing him up as he worked, so don’t be that kind of client. If you want to check-in, drop us a note or give us a call but most of all, trust us! We’ve been working with words for years so we know how to make your stuff sound great.
4. Be open to new ideas
This is similar to developing trust, but you’ve got to be open to new ideas and new ways of thinking. If you hire a really great copywriter, they’ll know how to blend your brand TOV with creativity. Great copywriters will always try to find ways to do things differently and set your brand apart from the noise. This might mean taking a slightly different approach or angle. It might mean including a word that scares you. It might mean getting a bit weird but trust the process. We’re not here to make you sound stupid or radical, we’re here to use our words to make people go, ‘wow!’
5. Allow time for revisions
We won’t get mad if you want to make a few edits or change up the first draft, but you’ve got to give us adequate time. This means setting up a realistic deadline that leaves room for revisions to be made, if necessary. A good rule of thumb is to allow at least one week before the launch date – this will give us enough time to rework our copy if it’s not entirely up your street.
Finding copywriters isn’t always easy. Do you freelance, outsource, or hire? Take the pain out of searching and hit up our wordsmiths at [email protected] for a copywriting service that’s fuelled on caffeine and a genuine love of words!