It might come as a surprise to hear that copywriters don’t usually posses psychic powers. Which is a shame because we could often do with them!
I want to achieve the best possible results for my clients but in order to be successful in that aim, I need information. All too often I am left staring at a brief which is a triumph of minimalism. I pray earnestly for the onset of clairvoyance but my prayers are never answered! I then ask a series of questions in order to elicit the information that I need and I may or may not get the answers. I write what I think is required and cross my fingers.
I am now reasonably skilled at reading between the lines even if there are only two of them. This ability, together with everything that I have learnt about how to write the content which really works enables me to hit the mark most of the time. But life would be so much easier if I was provided with a detailed brief at the outset.
If you are looking for great content and wish to maximise your chances of getting it, here’s what your copywriter (hopefully that’s me!) needs from you.
Unfortunately a brief should be anything but, well, brief! It should provide the copywriter with the following information:
- The nature of the piece – is it a blog, an article, landing page content or a white paper etc.
- The approximate number of words required
- The demographic of the target audience
- The required tone and style
- The keywords or key phrases that should be included
- Anything else which must be included, especially facts and statistics which it would be impossible for the copywriter to research
- Anything which should not be included
It will really help your copywriter if they can view the site on which the content is to feature. This will enable them to get a feel for the business and the style and tone of the site. Sometimes it can be impossible to visualise how a piece should be structured without viewing where it is to be published. For instance, landing page content for e commerce sites is often placed in a box at the top or the bottom of the page. Only a portion of the text will be visible and there will be a more tag to expand the text. The copy is best written with this in mind so that a first paragraph of an appropriate length can be created.
It really helps to be able to explore a site to gain insight into the navigation. Knowing how the required pages relate to each other can influence what you should say and in what order it should be expressed. It is very difficult to create a logical flow to the content without viewing the website.
Always give your copywriter as much time as you possibly can to write the required material. Being rushed is rarely beneficial for the creative mojo and can result in feeling stressed. Sometimes a writer just doesn’t feel inspired or simply struggles to nail the right words. The next day the words just might flow more easily.
No matter how relaxed you feel about the schedule, give your copywriter a deadline. This will remove any chance of a misunderstanding. Your definition of whenever may be very different to your writer’s! If you need the copy within the week then say so.
Keep in touch with your copywriter throughout the project and be ready to respond to their messages. It isn’t uncommon for a writer to discover that they are missing vital information or that the information they have been given is contradictory or ambiguous.
If your writer has submitted work which you are not happy with for any reason then let them know as soon as possible and preferably before they write the next piece.
Build a relationship with your copywriter and help them to help you. The more support you give them, the better the results are likely to be!