Talking, listening, learning, understanding – then working. Dealing with a copywriter is a pretty straightforward process.
I’m as keen as you are to do a great job first time.
The First Step
How will you have found me? Online, by a search? Through a networking group, or a forum? Or maybe I was mentioned by a friend? Either way – I’m here, we’re talking, and I can help you.
You can drop me an email, give me a quick call, connect on LinkedIn or send me a kissogram if you like. But we’ll get the ball rolling.
The first stage in the process is always about talking and listening – finding out more about you, your business and your goals for the project. Pretty much everything I do these days is handled over email, phone, Skype or online and we won’t have a face-to-face meeting (unless you live up the road, in which case, why not!).
I have a project form that covers all the questions, which I’ll send to you to complete in your own time, or we can go through it on the phone. Either way, I’ll get all the information I need from you to do the job.
Nailing the basics will really help to understand your aims and goals for the project, however simple or in-depth. And one question can lead to another. We might discover something that neither of us had thought of yet that could really help your project.
Know where you stand with the written proposal
We’ve gone over the project and I’ve got a good grasp of what you need. The next stage is for me to sum up what we’ve discussed.
I’ll do this in an email, which will include:
- A summary of the work to be done and deliverables.
- Possible time line of work – start date, milestones or sections if applicable, and final completion.
- A quote for the project.
I’ll also ask how you want the final finished copy (the deliverable), if you haven’t already let me know. Do you want it as a Word doc? Or in a Google doc? Or just plain text?
If all is good with you, I’ll then send over the contract. Don’t worry, it doesn’t ask for a signature in blood, but outlines the schedule as discussed and goes over the terms to do with payment, copyright, revisions and cancellation.
I’ll need a 50% deposit to secure your start date and begin work. With a deposit, I can confidently decline other projects for that time period and concentrate on getting your job done. I’ll send an invoice with the contract, and the simplest and best way to pay is by bank transfer.
Getting the best results by doing the research
Getting the content right is as much to do with the research and thought as it is about the actual writing.
Before writing anything, I’ll look at your company, your product or service, your background and your competitors. What problem do you solve and how do you solve it? What’s unique about you? What makes you different and stand out?
But even more important is looking into your customers, users or readers. What are they saying about your product or service, and how are they saying it? How do they feel about it?
There are many sources of information for this – from organic search results to forums, reviews, testimonials and customer feedback. There really is no substitute for digging into this goldmine of information. I like it so much, I wrote this blog post about it.
I study the words and language your audience is thinking and talking in themselves, and use it right back at them, to your advantage.
Getting down to work on your copy
So, now we’ve gone over your needs and worked out the goals for the project. I’ve outlined what I’ll do and done the research. Now I’ll get to work.
You’ll be glad to know I don’t sit around waiting for inspiration to strike. I work to deadlines and costs just like you do, and sit at the keyboard making it happen. My favourite part is always creating the initial elements: headings that hook people in, and the perfect opening sentences on each page.
After I’ve worked on the opening sections, and before going too far down the line, I’ll send it over to you to make sure I’m on the right track. You might love how it’s looking, in which case that’s great! But if you have any reservations, then we can deal with it at this stage in the process and save us both a lot of time and hassle.
Quite often, my first draft is also the final draft! Happily, most clients like what I’ve written for them and we move forward to tying things up.
But a first draft is always a first draft, and occasionally even I spot something worth changing after leaving it alone for a day or so.
They key point is first draft is your opportunity to give feedback and suggest any changes. I aim to get things spot-on first time, but it’s normal to make a few amendments and edits on the initial piece, and I allow for two rounds of revisions as part of the deal.
Again, we’d do this via email, Skype or on the phone. All revisions should be advised within 14 days of your receipt of the first draft of copy, to keep it all within the project. After that, additional rewrites may be made for an additional charge.
I write my copy with mark-ups (indicating h1, h2, body text, etc), but can also draft a quick wire-frame of how I see the copy’s presentation. Your designer or website developer will be free to apply their talents, and your web pages will soon be good to go.
If you and your team are happy, then we can call the job complete! We’ll exchange quick mutual back-patting emails and you’ll settle the final 50% of the invoice. Once paid, all copyright on the material reverts to you and you can use it and distribute it as you wish.
Because I’m proud of my work, I only have one favour to ask – that I can include the project as part of my online portfolio. This would include a screenshot of the most suitable page, and a reproduction of the raw text, plus usually a link to your site. An extra backlink for your website is always useful when it comes to SEO!
So, drop me a line by email, or call me for a quick chat, and we’ll see what can be done. Once I’ve got a handle on it, I’ll be able to give you a quote for the job by email and then, if you’re happy, we can start the process.
“What are your rates?”
I price projects by the job so that you and me both know where we stand regarding cost. No two projects are exactly the same, and so neither are many quotes. Feel free to drop me an email about your project and I’ll do a beer-mat estimate.
I generally don’t work on an hourly rate, as it often leads to fears that costs will spiral out of control and/or a desire to control the writer’s time to a minimum. Both of which will lead to a bad job and a poor working relationship. This said, I do believe in horses for courses and we can talk about what works best for both of us.
I definitely don’t charge by the word. That would be an incentive for a less-competent copywriter to needlessly pack out their copy with words, and for a less-ethical client to try to make their copywriter keep it as brief as possible. All with no thought to how much research or consideration needs to go into the job. It’s just wrong.
“How much notice do you need? When are you available?”
Generally, I can get onto a brief pretty quickly. I would aim to get back to you with a first draft, or a general outline for a longer project, a couple of days after we’ve gone over the brief. Check in with me to find out a current time-scale. Obviously, if time is an issue for either of us, we can flag it up.
“How many re-writes can we expect?”
You get two rounds of re-writes or amendments (if they’re needed!) as part of the deal.
“Can we meet up to discuss?”
If we’re in the same town, absolutely. But let’s have a quick call or email first, to get a handle on the job.
Do you need a new website or an upgrade? I work closely with a talented web designer/developer, specialising in responsive websites, WordPress and logo design, who can give you a favourable quote for a high-quality job.
Working on your website content hand-in-hand with the design will optimise your user experience, and make people feel like you knew what they wanted before they got there. A quick chat with me could result in a 360-degree solution for your company’s online presence.
For a quick insight into how I can work with your website text to make it better and appeal to people more, check out my blog post on the subject.
Any decent copywriter will have a document for their terms & conditions, and I’m no different. You can read through them here.