Explained: The process of working with a copywriter

Explained: The process of working with a copywriter
Reading Time: 6 minutes

…in the faraway land of Internetopia, there was a copywriter and a client.

One day, the client was in search of someone who could write some quality content that did cool stuff like engage their target audience and increase conversions.

The client searched far and wide, from the tallest Tweeting trees, to the deepest, darkest dungeons of LinkedIn.

And then… seemingly appearing from nowhere, the client found a freelance copywriter who could do just that for them!

It was clear that the client and the copywriter wanted to work together to produce enchanting copy for the client’s business…

BUT!

Before either the client or the copywriter got too excited imagining the spellbinding end product, they both wanted to make sure that they didn’t miss anything too important out during the whole process of working together.

They both wanted to know what was expected of one another, and if there was any fighting of dragons involved (spoiler: there isn’t).

They both valued a process that was as smooth and transparent as possible for everyone involved, and the client wanted to be sure they would receive an end product that they were really satisfied with.

…and that’s where this post comes in.

 

In ten (ish) steps, this post aims to help both the copywriter and the client ensure that they get their ‘fairytale ending’ – i.e. the copywriter does what they need to do to deliver a service that meets the client’s expectations, and that the client pays the copywriter for their work.

It’s also worth taking note that this post is pretty generic, and has been written for both a copywriter and a client in mind. It won’t be reflective of every experience, ever.

Some similar ‘stories’ might have more ‘characters’, or a more complicated ‘plot’ than this one.

Some clients may work differently, and to different budgets.

Some copywriters may provide more or fewer edits to copy, and some might expect a paid deposit prior to any work commencing.

But having a clear process ensures that everyone is on the same page, and knows what to expect from one another while on the job.

There’s a lot to bear in mind when copy is being created. At the very least the post should cover the basics.

Alrighty, grab your horse and get ready to ride folks.

1 | Arrange a date & time for a meeting or phone call.

Work can come about in multiple ways for freelancers, but every project starts with an initial conversation about the details of the project between the client and the copywriter.

In many cases, the initial communication is a chance for both parties to work out if they’re a good fit for each other before any work is agreed.

At other times, a client and copywriter may already know that they want to work together before that initial meeting, and so the conversation is more a discussion of the project brief right away.

2 | Briefing Stage

After the initial formalities are out of the way, the copywriter and the client move onto discussing the project brief.

Flimsy or rushed briefs that lack the important details can lead to misunderstood projects and disappointed clients. It’s crucial that the copywriter asks the right questions to ensure that the project progresses in the way the client is looking.

A handful of things a solid brief should cover are:

        • The purpose of the project.
        • The technical details about the project (word counts, type of content, keywords).
        • Who the target audience are.
        • Project scope that has been clear and well defined.
        • Realistic time frames.
        • The client’s budget and the copywriter’s fees.

 

Both parties should take as much time as is needed on the brief stage, because it’s essential to get it right.

For more on getting the most out of the briefing stage, Read This and Your Briefs Will Be On Fire.

3.1 | Proposal

Usually for larger projects – but not exclusively – the copywriter will produce a proposal.

A copywriting proposal should outline:

      • A concise summary of the project details.
      • How the copywriter intends to approach the project.
      • The services the client will receive from the copywriter (types of deliverables, conducting of research, full scope of project).
      • Details the copywriter requires from the client (product specs., brand tone of voice).
      • The ‘Calls to Actions’ (functional purpose of the copy).
      • Clear pricing and fees.
      • Terms & Conditions.

 

The proposal helps ensures that the copywriter is on the right path to delivering what the client is looking for, and it should work to make the client feel comfortable and happy in their decision in hiring the copywriter.

3.2 | Contract

So yeah, maybe the word ‘contract’ has a powerful tendency to make you feel really tired (and bored) all of a sudden, but that doesn’t mean it’s not really important.

A copywriting contract should include:

        • A succinct summary of the project details.
        • The services the client will receive from the copywriter.
        • Conditions to changes and revisions of the copy.
        • Copyright ownership.
        • Legalities (i.e. liability, permissions, contract renewals).
        • Clear pricing and fees.
        • Payment conditions (deposits or any late payment penalties).
        • Project time frames and deadlines.
        • Date and Signatures.

 

The contract keeps all the details clear and transparent, ensuring that everyone is on the same page right from the very start.

3.3 | Price Quote

During the initial meeting or the briefing stage, the subject of price will have no doubt come up – so the copywriter’s rate shouldn’t come as a shock to the client.

As previously mentioned in ‘3.1’ and ‘3.2’, the full price should also be quoted in the copywriter’s project proposal and/or contract too. 

Just in case it somehow hasn’t been discussed by either party up to this point, now is the time to do it.

At the absolute minimum, having the price quote written down ensures that there’s no confusion on either side of the exchange when it comes to payment time.

Most freelance copywriters take an upfront deposit before any work begins, so clients should expect the deposit to be anywhere between 25-50% of the final project fee.

4.1 | The copywriter invoices the client for the deposit.

The copywriter will then invoice the client for the deposit.

The price value of the deposit (based on a percentage of the total value of the final project fee), along with the payment conditions will be stated in the copywriter’s contract.

4.2 | The client pays the deposit.

The client pays the copywriter the agreed project deposit fee.

(The copywriter will deduct the deposit when the copy is completed and the final invoice is sent).

5 | The copywriter begins work.

The copywriter begins work on the project by researching all of the essential information needed to complete the project to a high-standard.

The time this takes varies depending on the size and scale of the project.

6.1 | The copywriter produces the first draft.

The copywriter sends the first draft of the content to the client.

6.2 | The client reviews the first draft.

The client reviews the first draft and then sends the content back to the copywriter with any required amendments.

7.1 | The copywriter edits and amends the first draft.

The copywriter edits and amends the copy, then sends it back to the client to be reviewed.

7.2 | The client reviews the revised draft.

The client reviews the revised draft.

At this point the copy should be very close to completion (perhaps even completed). 

If the client does require any minor tweaks or edits to the copy, it may be sent back to the copywriter once again. No full rewrites here though!

8 | The copywriter completes any final tweaks and polishing needed to the revised draft.

The copywriter polishes and finalises the content, and then returns it back to the client.

This should be the finishing touches to the copy.

9.1 | The copywriter sends the Final Invoice (minus the deposit)

The copywriter sends the final invoice to the client. This will include the full project fee (minus any deposits paid before the work began).

If there’s anything unexpected here, the copywriter will be able to answer any questions and queries.

Just as a side note: both parties should keep thorough records of their invoices. No one has ever regretted having easy-access to that information come tax time.

9.2 | The copywriter may request the client reviews the service that they provided.

After the agreed completion of the copy, the copywriter may request the client reviews the service they have provided in the form of a testimonial.

For a copywriter, a testimonial is valuable social proof when it comes to reassuring future clients that they are able to deliver on what they say they do.

If the copywriter plans on using a testimonial publicly (which is kinda the point), it’s important that the client is made aware and gives their permission for that.

Sometimes testimonials are presented with the client’s name, their role and an image for extra ‘authenticity points’ – so it’s essential that the copywriter has consent to do that too.

10 | The copy is ready to be published!

The copywriter and the client live…

(And maybe even reunite to do more work together in the future!)

 

Let me just finish on a massive thank you for reading this #Write52 post. It has been awesome to have you here.

If you’re still not sure what #Write52 is, read this and this. Should help clear things up.

Ed has been working to compile all of the #Write52 posts each week in a handy email newsletter – which you can sign up to here. Be sure to do that, and you won’t miss a trick.

As well as that, #Write52 now has a snazzy Twitter account – which you can find here.