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UPDATED JANUARY 4, 2024

If you’ve never worked with a copywriter before, you may have questions about how this works and what to expect. In this article, I’ll aim to answer those for you.

The process

Before we start, here’s an outline of my process:

Flowchart-showing-my-process
Colour key:
🟨 My responsibilities
🟦 Your responsibilities
🟩 Joint responsibilities
🟥 When your payments are due
⬛️ Project completion

Stage one: contact

It all begins when you get in touch with me.

Yellow rotary phone on yellow background
Photo by Mike Meyers on Unsplash

Initial contact

If you’d like to talk to me about a project, there are lots of ways to contact me. You can use my contact form, email, phone or social media.

Before we move onto the discovery call, I’ll suggest you familiarise yourself with my pricing, because there’s no point in going further if you can’t afford my services. You should find everything you need to know in my article on Pricing FAQs >>

Discovery call

From your initial contact, I’ll usually suggest a brief Google Meet because it’s the quickest and easiest way for you to tell me more about your company, your goals and your project.

This is a free call and the goal is simply to decide if we’re a good match and if we want to work together. As such, I won’t do any preparation prior to the call or offer any advice during it.

Following the call, we’ll decide how we want to proceed, whether that’s a paid consultation, a paid action plan or straight to a quote for your project.

To prepare an accurate quote, I’ll need to understand the scope of the project and how much work will be involved. If I feel we need more clarity on this, I might ask you to complete a copywriting brief before I quote.

Paid consultation

A paid consultation is invoiced and paid for upfront and will usually take the form of a Google Meet.

There are a number of ways a paid consultation can help you.

For example, maybe you need:

  • Advice with a website/communication issue
  • Pointers on researching and writing content
  • Someone to bounce ideas around with
  • Clarity from an objective outsider
  • Direction with a writing project
  • Creativity and inspiration.

Whatever you need, I’ll do the necessary preparation before your consultation so we can hit the ground running without wasting any time.

Paid action plan

A paid action plan is invoiced and paid for upfront.

I offer two kinds of paid action plan. The first is a project action plan, which you might call a proposal, the second is an SEO-guided website sitemap.

Project action plan

Yes, I charge for proposals. First, because the time taken is time I could be spending on paid projects. And second, because there’s value in the ideas and expertise that goes into them.

Paying for the ideas means you’ll get to use them as you wish, even if you end up working with another copywriter.

SEO-guided website sitemap

An SEO-guided sitemap can be beneficial if you’re having a new website built and you want to get better results from your organic SEO.

I’ll develop a sitemap for your website using SEO keywords to guide the page structure the configuration of the site. This will help us prioritise the keywords your ideal customers are searching for and give your website the best chance of ranking for them.

Creating an SEO sitemap like this takes time and skill, so it’s not something I can do for free. But when the plan is complete, you’ll have the most lucrative website sitemap all planned out and ready to go.

When you’re ready to move to the next stage, I’ll put together a quotation for the work based on this sitemap.

Quotation

Your quotation will outline the scope of the project and the work that will need to be done. And it will give you a complete upfront cost, so you know exactly what you’ll have to pay.

Once issued, your quotation will be valid for one month.

Before accepting the quote, it’s important that you read my terms and conditions. These set out all the important details, like timeframes, payments and copyright.

Upfront payment

If you accept the quote, I’ll send you an invoice which will need to be paid before work begins.

For projects totalling £1,000 or less, I’ll require the full payment upfront. For projects totalling over £1,000, I’ll require a 50% deposit upfront with the rest of the money due after submission of the first draft.

Paying some, or all, of the money upfront is standard practice when working with a freelancer — and it makes good sense, because:

  • We’re both taking a share of the risk
  • It shows your commitment to the project
  • It keeps you invested in the final outcome
  • It keeps my cashflow flowing.

Some of my package offers allow you to pay in three installments rather than two, if this is more helpful.

Stage two: briefing

From the initial contact, we’ll move onto the briefing.

I ask all clients to complete a copywriting brief. This will give me all the information I need to write your project.

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Photograph by My Life Through A Lens on Unsplash

Customising your copywriting brief

My standard copywriting brief covers your:

  • Project/needs
  • Offering
  • Business/brand
  • Audience/ideal customer
  • Competitors
  • Existing website — if it’s relevant and if you have one.

But I’ll customise the brief before I send it to you, adding more specific questions to give me the information that’s unique to your project.

At this point, we’ll take a deeper dive into the project — usually with a more in-depth phone call or Google Meet. This is my chance to ask you the questions I need answers to so I can customise your copywriting brief.

I’ll be asking you a lot of questions during this stage to help me understand your business, your offering, and who you’re selling to.

When your brief is ready, I’ll email it to you so you can complete it.

Completing the copywriting brief

When you receive your customised brief, you’ll need to complete it and return it to me.

I’ve designed the brief to be as self-explanatory as possible. If you need more support you should find it in my article: A guide to completing my copywriting brief >>

Alternatively, you can buy an hour of my time and we’ll fill it in together.

Questions and answers

Sometimes the completed copywriting brief can bring up even more questions, so I’ll ask about anything I’m not clear on before we move on to the next stage.

Stage three: writing

By this point, I should have all the information I need to start the writing part of the process.

Laptop-keyboard-and-cappuccino-from-above
Photograph by Matt Glover Photography

Research

You might think the writing takes the most time, but the majority of my time will be spent on research.

This will include:

  • Customer research
  • Voice of customer research
  • Industry/subject research
  • Competitor research
  • SEO keyword research (for SEO copy and content).

Customer research

To write effective copy, I need to know who I’m talking to.

You’ll have given me some information about your ideal customers in your brief and this will be my starting point.

Some of the other things I’ll want to know include:

  • What problems and stresses they’re having
  • How they’ve tried to solve their problems
  • Why what they’ve tried so far hasn’t worked
  • What’s important to them when choosing a product or provider
  • What’s likely to stop them buying from you (objections).

These are the things I’ll be looking for when I do my own research.

Voice of customer research

Voice of customer research is really important — especially for SEO projects.

Here, I look at the language your prospects are using to search for things. Using this language on your website and in your content is what will help you draw the right kinds of prospects.

Industry/subject research

This is where I learn more about your industry/subject and the terminology you use. This helps me to write confidently and authoritatively about what you’re offering.

Competitor research

Researching your competitors helps me see where you fit into your market. This is important because it helps me to differentiate you from your competitors and make your offer sound better and more appealing.

SEO keyword research

I carry out SEO keyword research when I’m writing websites and blog content. This tells me what your ideal customers are typing into Google when they’re searching for what you’re selling or need answers to their questions. And it enables me to match your copy and content with those search terms.

Writing the first draft

When I have all my research done, I can start writing the first draft of your project.

I usually start by creating a skeleton outline, which lists all the important points I need to make. I then flesh this out into a proper written piece.

When I have a full first draft I feel happy with, I put it to bed and sleep on it.

Editing the first draft

For me, the editing process is where the magic happens.

Having slept on the first draft and given myself some distance, I can come back to it with fresh eyes. This helps me to see what’s working — and what isn’t. Some — okay, most — of the copy will probably be rewritten and improved.

By the time it gets to you, your first draft will have already been through a number of rewrites and edits. The intention is to give you something that’s as near to perfect as it can be on the first attempt.

In some cases I might decide the copy needs a second edit, but most often I go straight on to proofreading it.

Proofreading the first draft

I start with a spellcheck. This won’t pick up all the spelling mistakes because some typos are still valid words. But it’s a start.

When I proofread, I like to understand how the copy sounds and flows, so I always read it aloud. This also highlights parts of the copy that might have missing words or need more punctuation.

When I have a first draft I’m totally happy with, I’ll send it to you for your feedback.

Stage four: refining

In this stage we go from first draft to final draft through a process of feedback and changes.

Unless otherwise stated, your project will include a first, second and final draft. These revisions are complimentary and are usually more than sufficient to get the project to a finalised state.

Tip-of-sharpened-yellow-pencil-laying-on-pencil-shavings
Image by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

First draft sent

When you receive your project, you’ll have five working days to read it through and request any changes.

To help you, I’ve prepared this handy guide: How to give your copywriter constructive feedback >>

This should cover everything you need to know, but if you still have questions you can always ask me.

If I don’t hear from you within five working days of sending the first draft, I’ll presume the copy has been approved.

First draft approval

Some projects are approved on the first draft, but most will need some minor alterations.

Final payment

If there’s money outstanding, this is when I’ll send out your final invoice.

If you’ve approved your first draft, when the final invoice has been paid, the project will be considered complete.

If you need changes, I’ll make those as soon as possible after receiving the final payment.

Changes/second draft

When I receive your final payment I’ll get any changes made and send your second draft.

If you’ve asked for a change I’d advise against, I’ll let you know why and explain my reasoning before making it. The final decision will always be yours, but it should be an informed decision.

Second draft approval

Most projects are approved on the second draft when the minor alterations have been made.

If this is the case, your project will be considered complete.

Changes/final draft

When you receive your second draft, you’ll have three working days to request any further changes.

If there are changes, I’ll make those as soon as possible and send out your final draft.

If I don’t hear from you within the three days, I’ll presume the copy has been approved and the project will be considered complete.

If you decide you need further changes after you’ve receive the final draft, these will be charged at my standard hourly rate.

Would you like to work with me?

I’m an accomplished, results-driven copywriter and content writer with almost 25 years’ professional writing experience and 16 years’ experience in writing high-performing SEO copy that ranks on Google.

If you have a copywriting project you’d like to talk to me about, it’s easy to get in touch.

Jenny-Lucas-at-her-laptop
Photo by Matt Glover Photography

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