Working with a Copywriter Successfully
Once you find a copywriter you can work with, be sure to develop and maintain a good long-term relationship. True professionals are almost always busy and in-demand, so they don't have to put up with unprofessional behavior on your part.
Here are a few hints to keep your writer happy and make your working relationship smooth and successful.
- Decide what you want. Sort out the facts ahead of time. Be clear about what you want to accomplish, your budget, deadline, etc. If you have a problem and no clear solution, a copywriter may help you define your goals acting as a consultant. But that could be a separate project. If that's the case, expect to pay hourly for the advice you get. Generally, "free" advice is worth exactly what you paid for it.
- Discuss fees up-front. Many business people like to avoid talking money until the last possible moment, as if it's impolite. But this just invites misunderstanding and wastes time. A professional copywriter should be able to give you a written estimate if you provide specific information on the work involved.
- Provide background material. The majority of what a copywriter needs to complete any project is in your files right now. Brochures, letters, memos, ads, order forms, catalogs, and other printed material will probably have most of the raw data necessary for a project. New products and services are no exception. You certainly have marketing plans, reports, manuals, faxes, surveys, and lots of paperwork loaded with information. Good copy begins with solid information. Gather it up and hand it over.
- Put it in writing. It's unlikely that you rely on a handshake in your business, so don't expect this with your copywriter. A written agreement will spell out the exact nature of the project, fee, deadline, and other particulars. This will help avoid simple misunderstandings which can permanently screw up a good relationship.
- Let the copywriter write. Once you've worked out the details of the project, signed the contract, and handed over all the background information, stand back. If you really want to write the piece yourself, don't call in someone else. And never write by committee. It's irritating for a professional copywriter and will inevitably lack the spirit, focus, and persuasive power one good writer can achieve by working alone.
- Pay on time. The number one complaint from copywriters is slow payment or no payment. If you've agreed to pay a certain price by a certain time, do it. Pay in a month, and you'll go to the top of the copywriter's client list. Pay in two weeks or less, and you've made a friend for life. If you don't do it out of common courtesy and professionalism, do it because it's an investment in goodwill.
- Give specific feedback. Saying "This copy needs more oomph" isn't helpful. What is "oomph"? And how do you add more of it? Is your "oomph" the same as my "oomph"? If you're unhappy about part of the copy, tell the copywriter exactly what you don't like and how you want it revised. And when you like the copy, say it. Positive feedback not only helps your copywriter's ego, it helps you get better work in the future. For a writer, there's nothing more helpful than knowing exactly what a client likes.
Copyright © 2009 Dean Rieck. All Rights Reserved.
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