If you’re looking to commission a copywriter, you’re probably thinking about how good their writing skills are. But there’s an awful lot that goes into a copywriting project beyond the ability to use the written word to drive business results.
Why should you care? Because if you want to choose the best copywriting partner – one that will produce results on time, on budget and with minimal hassle for you – then you need to make sure they’re skilled across all of these areas.
No matter how small the project, someone needs to be in charge of managing it otherwise it can get very stressful, very quickly. Project management in this case includes arranging briefing calls or meetings, agreeing and ensuring deadlines are met, organising amends stages and handling any unforeseen circumstances that arise along the way (and believe us, most projects have these).
Behind the scenes in an agency there are also writers to be commissioned and internal amends stages to be done, plus copyediting and proofing (more on these later). Freelancers have limited capacity not only because they can only write for a certain number of hours every day but because juggling too many clients leads to balls being dropped.
As Head of Client Experience, Rosie is RH&Co’s chief project manager – or as we sometimes like to call her, our puppet master. She’s the queen of the Trello boards, shifting clients, copyeditors, proofreaders and writers around like markers on those old fashioned war tables. It’s because of Rosie and her exceptional organisational skills that our clients always get their copy on deadline, if not before.
The first and most important step of any project we work on is the brief creation stage. In some cases our clients come to us with a prepared written brief – usually the bigger agencies that we white label our services to – but in most cases the briefing is where we begin adding value.
A good brief should cover a huge range of important elements from target audience to tone of voice. Often we ask questions that challenge our clients to more clearly define what they’re after, which means that they’re much more likely to get a first draft that doesn’t need endless amends. We can also help them clarify their strategy and set goals against which we can measure progress, from visitor numbers to bounce rates.
At RH&Co the briefings are always done either by Rin, whose journalistic skills give her an edge when it comes to finding the most engaging message, or by Rosie, whose work in PR and comms with big corporates means she’s an old hand at writing briefs.
This is where the magic happens. Copywriting is the art of persuasive writing so when we talk about top quality copy we’re not just talking about it being well written – it needs to be able to generate the results that our clients are looking for.
Will the landing page copy convert? Will the blog posts increase dwell time? Has SEO been taken into account and are the CTAs strong enough?
That’s why we’re super fussy about who we allow on to our writing team. We have both in-house copywriters – Rin and Sam – and a handpicked team of freelancers who have to go through a thorough evaluation process before they go on our books. Lots of people are good writers; there are fewer good copywriters around.
Copyediting and proofing
There’s a particular blind spot that you get when reading your own writing which is why it’s important that you always get a second pair of eyes on anything you create. This will help you spot unsupported facts, errors in continuity, moments of rambling, changes in tense, random typos and a whole bunch of other issues.
It’s difficult to explain exactly what makes one piece of copy better than another but we’ve been doing this a long time now and we’re experts at spotting what’s good and what needs work before it’s client ready.
At RH&Co any copy produced by the freelance team is copyedited in-house, while writing done by Rin and Sam gets proofread by Liz before getting sent on to the client by Rosie. Why Liz, you might ask? Well yes, she is our Head of Operations and therefore technically not on the creative team. But with a degree in linguistics and the kind of eagle eye that makes even senior copywriters nervous, she’s definitely the best placed to be the final quality checkpoint.
It’s worth adding this bit because it’s so easy to forget the millions of little things that keep a copywriting agency – or indeed a freelancer – running. Invoicing, sorting out insurances, making sure the accounts are up to date, getting business cards printed, filling out tedious forms of one kind or another.
Without these jobs an agency wouldn’t exist to be able to take care of all the other stages of a copy project mentioned above. At RH&Co we’re lucky enough to have Liz to take care of these vital tasks – and many more besides – but spare a thought for freelancers who have to do it all in ‘unpaid’ time.
By appreciating the many skills that go into a successful copywriting project, you’ll be better placed to choose a team that can support you in creating copy that genuinely delivers results. You’ll also have a much clearer idea of why doing it yourself isn’t the easy option it might at first appear!
If you’d like to discuss a copy project with us, drop us a line on email@example.com or call us on 01179 902 690 – we’re always here to help.
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