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What to expect from the copywriting process

Updated: Jun 9, 2023

The guide you didn’t know you needed

Have you ever hired someone to help, only to wish you’d done the job yourself? Perhaps the individual had a million questions or wanted multiple rounds of input.

We’ve all been there, the simplest job becomes a battle. It’s stressful and distracting, especially when you’re trying to run a business.

Well, it’s time to put things right. I can’t speak for any other professionals, but I can help de-mystify the copywriting process.

First off, clients: your copywriter needs you! You have a vital role to play. Yes, even after you’ve hired someone and prepped for the project.

Don’t worry, this guide tells you exactly what to expect from the copywriting process. More importantly, it’ll clarify your role. Because while you may not craft any copy, there are contributions that only you can make and your copywriter will need them to complete the job successfully.

What the copywriting process looks like

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty, here’s a quick overview of the copywriting process. It’s pretty simple! There are three main stages:

  1. Briefing

  2. Writing

  3. Feedback and amendments

Below, you’ll find an explanation of what happens at each stage. You’ll also find insight into your role as client and why it matters.

The warm-up phase

Ok, ok, I promised three stages. There’s actually a precursory stage too, which is all about getting ready to do a great job.

First, you, as the client will need to send any useful information to your copywriter. For instance, your Tone of Voice guidelines, client avatar, mission statement, values, or anything that will help your copywriter get a good feel for the business. As discussed in the previous blog, ‘Are you prepared to work with a copywriter?’, giving your copywriter this information will help them understand your business, so they can communicate what makes your proposition uniquely helpful.

Stage 1: Briefing

What to expect during the briefing phase

To begin, your copywriter will take a brief from you. Your involvement here is key. While your copywriter will prepare ahead of time for the briefing phase (and the project in general), you, as the client should too. If you want to get the best from the project, that is.

Think about:

  • What you want to achieve with the copy, be it a blog, website, brochure…

  • What you’d like to get across – any key points or important details?

  • What matters to the people you do business with?

Your role in the briefing phase

Be clear about your intentions. Your copywriter will craft the copy with skill and care; what they can’t do, is guess what’s in your mind. If you want to shout about a new service, tell them. If your focus is on producing an educational guide, let them know.

There are different ways of working the briefing stage. Some copywriters will sit down with you and interview you. Some will ask you to complete a questionnaire, while others request that you supply a written brief. I tend to use a mixture of the first two, depending on the project.

Don’t fear the briefing process! One of my clients once referred to it as a ‘mini coaching session.’ It’s true, there are a lot of questions. Think of it as an opportunity to get clear about what your business provides and why it matters.

Stage 2: Writing

What to expect during the writing phase

The bit you came to a copywriter for!

Now is the time that words, phrases, and ‘a-ha’ moments become sentences, paragraphs, and pages.

As the copywriter, by this stage, I’m thinking more about the reader, much less about the client. Of course, I want to hit the brief and not produce something wildly different to what the client expected. But when writing copy, it’s my job to remember who I’m writing for (not who I’m working for), and that’s the reader. In other words, your potential customer. As the people who will, ultimately, part with their cash, time, or details, it needs to speak to them above all others.

Your role in the writing phase

It’s worth being aware of this, even if there’s nothing you need to do explicitly during the writing stage. If the copy comes back with this or that sentence that’s not 100% how you’d have written it, don’t be alarmed. Your copywriter will have your prospect in mind, alongside the goals and objectives you laid out to them at the start.

If you’re unsure, ask! It’s always better to understand why a decision was made than to say nothing. By this stage, you’ll likely have a good working relationship with your copywriter and this kind of dialogue should flow.

Which brings us neatly to the final phase: your feedback will definitely be required here! So, if they weren’t already, prepare for the lines of communication to open.

Stage 3: Feedback and Amendments

What to expect at the final copywriting stage

The final stage sees the return of you, the client, to proceedings. When the copy has been handed over to you, it’s your job to read it through so you can feedback. You may wish to make notes, highlight sections, or simply underline things, ready to share this with your copywriter.

Depending on the project, I’ll run the feedback stage either in written format or as a live call. For a short piece like a newsletter, blog or press release, comments added to a shared doc are usually more than enough to share feedback. For more complicated projects, a live call is usually the best option. Where the copy requires finer tuning, such as sales pages, video scripts or websites, combing through the detail together makes the most sense.

Your role in the feedback and amendments stage

Remember, the key is to be constructive so your copywriter has something to work with. ‘I don’t like this part,’ may be true for you, though it doesn’t help move us closer to what you believe would work. Instead, try something like:

‘I’m not sure about this part. Could it be bolder / friendlier / more formal / less chatty?’ (Delete as appropriate).

This is the ideal time to ask for clarification about why your copywriter took X or Y decision. Once they’ve explained, it may well be the best decision for the project. Don’t be alarmed, either, if your copywriter challenges the feedback. Their role is to advocate for the reader, to use their knowledge and skill to best effect. Make use of their wisdom!

Great Expectations, or how to work with your copywriter

Expectations abound at the start of any project. And when you know what they are, it makes for a smoother journey. This guide, then, has hopefully been useful. Perhaps you learnt something new or perhaps what you’ve read here is what you anticipated. Either way, with clarity you can move forward with confidence, because while collaborating with a copywriter takes work, the work itself needn’t be onerous.

In aiming to give you clarity about what to expect, I hope you feel prepared for the exciting copywriting journey ahead! And if you’re not there yet, this blog may be of use:

Knowing where you stand is a good place to start

Now you’re clued up about the process, ask yourself what some crisp, compelling copy could do for your business. Have you meant to write a series of blogs, revamp your website or script an animated video for a long time?

No matter what you need, knowing where you stand is the best foot on which to start any project. So, if you’re ready to hop on the copywriting train, get in touch and let’s begin that journey today.


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