How A Copywriter Works For Your Business

This post is a follow-on from the one I wrote about the difference between copy and content. Right now, I want to give you a bit of insight into how a copywriter actually works, because it's something that comes up every now and then, when clients say, "I've never worked with a copywriter before, so I'm not really sure what you do."

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In the previous post, I talked a little about what a copywriter does for your ideas, how they help to extract them and articulate them to maximum effect. But what happens along the way? How do we turn your ideas into creative copy and content? I'll break this down into four simple stages, and tell you straight up that the most important one, is intuition (for me, anyway.)

Stage 1: Read, listen, speak and learn

I guess all copywriters differ in how much research they do on/for a client, but it is the logical first step. Normally, I'll start with an email or a phone call with the client. At this stage I'm more interested in you, than in the product or service. If I don't know who you are and what you're looking for, the job becomes so much harder, so this is a chance to get to grips with what you're all about. 

Next, I'll ask you for links, briefs and any other information they have regarding the project. It sounds lazy, but at this stage, I want you to do as much work as possible.

Why? Because you're the one with all of the knowledge. I need to have what's in your head, in mine. I'll also read the website and social media feed to get an idea of kind of tone exists already. 

Stage 2: Splatter the ideas

Whether it's creative copy, website copy or content, the next stage, once we're all on the same page, is to get down as many ideas as possible. We might end up using 10% of them, but now is the time to let it all out. 

Usually, I'll set up something in Google Drive, so that everyone involved has access and is able to collaborate freely.

Stage 3: Build the skeleton

Sometimes, ideas and taglines come out of the blue, those are gifts, and we gratefully accept them. More often, though, what happens next is that together, we lay down a foundation of solid ideas for copy and/or content. Unless it's one of those gifts, it probably won't be the most witty or catchy phrase you've ever seen, but it's a start.

One of the main reasons for building a skeleton, is so that we can see what the copy looks like written down, in both its raw form, and in situ. Inevitably, there will be fundamental changes made at this stage, and it's better, and less heartbreaking to tear apart the skeleton copy, than it is to destroy your carefully thought-out witticisms. 

The skeleton copy gives everyone involved a chance to see the newly extruded ideas, come to life. This is the basis of a delicious cake. You can ice a kitchen sponge and it'll look the same as a beautiful Belgian chocolate sponge, but dig deeper, and the difference becomes clear. 

As a copywriter, it's at this stage that I want to get everything 100% right, before we start to refine.

Stage four: Refine and shine

With the skeleton in place, we can add the muscle. Your ideas are strong and we're talking about them in a way that's true to what you really believe and want to say about your business. Now, we're going to give those ideas some 24" pythons (biceps) to make people sit up and take notice. 

Here's where we go to town on creativity. Rhymes, puns, rock n' roll, whatever is going to make you stand out from the crowd, now is the time to make it happen. We've got brand spanking new ideas that we're certain are accurate and strong, which also means we can make a start on some creative advertising. Clever slogans and copy that makes you go, "Damn!" Right now is where that happens.

Bonus: Intuition 

This isn't really a stage, it's more of a thread, which runs through the entire process from planning to puns. It's something that all decent copywriters have, and it feels just like being in a room full of colourful balloons that nobody else can see. Each balloon has an idea, a thought or a phrase written on it, and as they drift around your copywriter grabs them. It's a shame that not everyone can see the balloons, but at the same time, it's what keeps us in work! 

Working with a copywriter is a collaborative process. It's as much about how creative you're willing to be, as it is about what ideas your writer has.

I strongly encourage you to get in touch with me to share your ideas, even if you think they're silly or won't work. You never know what may become of them.