Help Me Help You: 5 Tips for Working with a Copywriter
Inspired by Jenna’s post on how to work with a graphic designer, let’s talk about how to really work with a copywriter. In many ways, the tips aren’t that different from hers. Great creative relationships boil down to open communication and mutual respect. When both sides are really ready and willing to work in accord wonderful things happen.
Be ready to talk
Most writing projects start with an interview. It’s the only way to really make sure your writer has all the information they need to work on a project. And this doesn’t just mean hard facts, like the products you offer–it also means the right voice of the piece, whether that’s playful and flip or serious and dignified. Your writer will come to the table informed about what you do and with a list of questions. Make their lives easier by offering full answers. Don’t be shy, don’t be afraid to talk or brag. The more information you can give your writer, the better the end product will be.
Writing a blog is different from writing web copy which is very different from writing a brochure. All of these mediums have their own rhythms and requirements. If you’re hoping to repurpose content for another use, great! We’d love to help so let us know about the requirements of the piece and any additional life the project may have outside the obvious. With that information up front, we can create content that’s really going to work for the purpose you’re using it for.
I know you’ve got a million things going on in your business. Sitting down with a fat stack of copy to edit is not always high on your priority list. But the longer the piece languishes, the harder it’s going to be for both of us to get back into it. Try to set aside a few minutes a day to review the copy. Or, if the idea of getting an entire website of copy to review at once seems daunting, ask your writer to break it up into smaller pieces. Your writer wants to make your life easier. Really, we do.
Writers are a sensitive bunch. That stereotype is often true. But you aren’t doing anyone, including yourself, any favors by not telling you writer when you don’t like something. Whether you hate the word “moist,” think they’ve got the voice all wrong or hate that they don’t use an Oxford comma, tell them! We want to make you happy. We sensitive types are people-pleasers. This is especially crucial if you’re entering into a long-term relationship with a writer. The more information you can give us about your likes and dislikes, the less work you’ll have to do in the future.
Some of the things we do might seem strange to you. We might substitute industry jargon for more search engine friendly phrases. We might do something that seems to go against your third grade grammar training and just let a preposition dangle at the end of a sentence. If something seems weird, ask us about it. We probably have a good reason for it. Trusting your writer doesn’t mean rolling over and accepting everything they say is correct; it means listening to reason and letting the expert do her thing.
Writers want to help you. Writers want to create beautiful copy that helps you sell things. Help us do that, and we’ll be your best friends. Promise.