Copywriting and communications - refreshingly clear advice for small business

If you're sold on the idea of hiring a copywriter, here are some tips to getting the most out of it.


1. Understand what you want to achieve before you talk to a copywriter.


The "I'll know what I want when I see it" approach won't work.  Think about what you want to communicate about your business before you brief the writer.  Who do you need to talk to, and why?  What image do you want people to have of your business?   What do you want people to do with the information you're giving them?  Your copywriter will take all of this information and turn it into polished prose, but you need to give her the basics first.


In the long run, proper planning can save you time and money because you won't need to see lots of versions of your copy before you hit on one that's going to do what you need.  


2. Brief in haste - repent at leisure


Give your writer all the information she will need right at the start. Getting someone to start work on a project with a promise that the final bits of information are on their way may sound like a way of speeding things up. In reality it often means that the work done at the beginning has to be re-done, adding time and cost to a project.


3.When everyone knows where they stand, everyone's happy.


Agree the ground rules right at the start and get them in writing. Most professional copywriters will give you a written agreement to sign, laying out what you've asked them to do so there's no confusion later.  Very few will start work until they have a signed copy of the agreement back from you. It is important that both sides understand: 

  • The timetable for the job -  when does it need to be finished? Be realistic about how long things take.  Copywriters need time to get to know your business and to think about what you need.  But we'll  pull out all the stops if we know you've got an important deadline to hit.

  • The scope of the job  - exactly what are you asking your writer to do?

  • The budget and what it covers - how many drafts and sets of corrections are you expecting your copywriter to give you? Remember that if you change the scope of the job after it's started by requesting more work or a tighter deadline,  the copywriter might ask for a revised budget before carrying on.

  • Who is giving final approval for the copy - getting instructions from lots of different people and not being sure who's in charge is a copywriter's nightmare. Things are likely to go much more smoothly if the copywriter has one person to talk to for instructions and feedback about what she's doing.