Your copywriter has come back to you with a first draft of your project and is asking for your feedback.

If you’ve never given feedback to a creative before, you may be wondering where to start.

This post will tell you how to give your copywriter constructive feedback they can work with to get you the results you want.

Before you start compiling feedback

Before you start putting your feedback together, there are a few things you should bear in mind.

Remember, the copy wasn’t written for you

Even though you’ve commissioned the copy, it will have been written for your audience — and their needs and agenda will be different to yours.

Chances are, your copywriter has spent time researching your audience to find out exactly what they need. And the resulting copy has been written to meet those needs.

Read through the copy more than once

Reading through the copy twice or more will help you get a better feel for it and what your copywriter was trying to achieve.

Understand why your feedback is required

What is the purpose of your feedback?

Are you looking at the tone, the message or the quality of the information?

Staying within your remit helps to keep the process simple.

Remember, a first draft is just a first draft

First drafts are rarely perfect, but giving constructive, actionable feedback will help your copywriter transform the copy into exactly what you need.

Treat this stage as a collaborative process

You’re the expert in your business. Your copywriter is the expert with words and communicating your message.

This stage of the process is about combining your knowledge with your copywriter’s skills to refine the copy and make it work.

You need to listen to each other and understand each other’s point of view.

What to give feedback on

If you’re not sure where to start, here are some things to look at:

  • Clarity and accuracy — is the information clear and correct?
  • Words and language — are they right for your brand and audience?
  • Tone of voice — does the writing style suit your brand?
  • Communication — do the key messages come across well?
  • Call to action — is it clear what you want your audience to do next?
  • Overall piece — is everything included or are there bits missing?

Tell us what you like and why you like it

Start with the positives. Knowing what we got right can be just as helpful as understanding what we got wrong.

Be specific and tell us the exact parts you’re referring to.

Tell us what you don’t like

This is important as these are the things we need to work on to deliver the copy you want.

To help us get it right, your feedback needs to be constructive and actionable. Subjective comments like “I don’t like it” or “I think we need to work on it a bit more” are not helpful. We need detail and examples. 

Be specific 

Which part of the copy don’t you like? Is there a particular:

  • Section? 
  • Paragraph? 
  • Sentence? 
  • Word?

Why don’t you like it? Is it:

  • Incorrect or incomplete?
  • Unclear or misleading?
  • Written in a style that doesn’t suit your brand?
  • Using words that are not right for your audience?
  • Not communicating your key messages properly?
  • Unnecessary or irrelevant?

If you have identified a problem, can you suggest a solution?

Send feedback you agree on

If more than one person is reviewing the copy there may be different opinions on it.

Your copywriter can’t possibly please several different people who are all asking for changes that conflict with each other.

So it’s important to iron out these differences and consolidate the feedback before you send it to your copywriter.

How to present your feedback

The method you use to send your feedback should be appropriate for the amount of feedback you have to give and suitable for the copywriter you’re working with.

Here are some of the options available:

Giving your feedback in person or over the phone enables a two-way discussion with your copywriter. It’s especially helpful if you’re struggling to articulate some of the points you want to make in writing.

In an email
Email is fine if there are only a few simple changes to be made. If there are more, it might be better to choose another method.

Using tracked changes in Microsoft Word
If the copy has been sent in a Word file (with the file extension .doc or .docx), your copywriter should have Word or a compatible alternative.

Highlight the parts you want amended and leave comments explaining the changes.

In a PDF
If your copywriter sends you a PDF it doesn’t automatically mean they have Adobe Acrobat on their computer.

If you want to add your feedback directly to the PDF using Acrobat, make sure your copywriter will be able to read your comments before you do so.

In Google Docs
Google Docs is accessible for anyone with a Google account and enables you to suggest edits on the document. 

Copy and paste the draft into a Google Docs file, then switch to editing mode using the button at the top right of the toolbar.

In this mode you can highlight or edit the copy you’re not happy with and leave a comment to explain.

Remember to save each comment after you type it.

Check your feedback
Read through your feedback before you send it back.

Make sure your notes make good sense and are not likely to cause confusion.

About the author

I’m Jenny Lucas, an experienced freelance copywriter and content creator based in Leicester, UK.

I’m a generalist copywriter who writes on all kinds of subjects, for all kinds of clients.

I’ve been working with clients on a freelance basis since June 2011.

Photo by Helloquence on Unsplash