Sending your copywriting to a client is a nerve-racking experience. When you’re a newbie it can be down-right terrifying.
I vividly remember handing over the first version of copy to my first paying copywriting gig.
I was still working at my marketing day job, trying to look busy as I prepared my copydeck for send-off. I had slaved over the copy, trying to implement all the good copywriting rules I knew. I was proud of it but I was also paralysed with uncertainty.
Was my homepage headline going to attract attention? Were the benefits compelling? Did it need more editing?
As I read the copy again, I didn’t know what else could be done. I had run out of reasons not to send it.
My finger hovered over the send button and then it was done.
The drum of blood flow echoed in my ears and I literally heard my body struggling cope with my anxiety. I waited for a response from the client as if my life depended on it. And in some ways, it did.
I mean, I thought the copy was good but what did I know, really?
These are signs I use, backed up with wisdom from some well-known copywriters I call colleagues, collaborators and friends.
#1: You need your concept approved
Some products and businesses come to you devoid of unique personality. In these scenarios, part of your role as a copywriter is to suggest a creative concept or angle. Seize these opportunities with all your creative cells!
That said, it’s natural to experience some doubt as your awesome idea or angle is taking shape. Like when I had this magical concept for a shoe company website. My cool idea? Create diary entries of each shoe style showing their owner’s exciting lifestyle. It was either going to be awesome – or suck, badly – and I wanted to know if I was wasting my time on it.
For the shoe company, I wrote enough copy for the client to see where it was heading. And they loved it. Anna Butler of Copybreak Copywriting Services eliminates uncertainty by sending a starter page to establish the overall tone and style, which is another great approach.
Kate Toon, founder of the Clever Copywriting School, says,
“I often just pick up the phone and call the client if I need a quick bit of feedback or confirmation on an angle, so that the copy can be more complete when I send it through.”
So don’t be afraid of getting your client involved in the creative process, before you slave over pages and pages of copywriting.
#2: You’re over-working the copy
You usually get this sign when you’re not completely happy with your copywriting but you don’t know exactly what to change (if anything).
I call it ‘moving the deck chairs’ because you aren’t improving the angle or creative concept any more but you’re not ready to call it done. So you tweak words here and there, spending a lot of time editing elements that don’t really matter. Not on the first version.
Remember, the first version the client sees is really bout making sure you’ve nailed the angle and positioning, general tone of voice and personality of the brand.
When I’m no longer deleting or moving entire paragraphs or pages and just changing a word here or there, I know it’s time to stop and get the client’s thoughts.
Anna (Butler) makes an excellent point, saying,
“It’s not unusual for clients to read the first draft and come back with fresh ideas or information because they’re seeing their business in a new light, so I don’t see a lot to be gained from agonising over the first draft only to have to rework it in the review process.“
Signal #3: You’re 99% happy
Sometimes the copy just flows. Whether you sent your client a starter page or you jumped straight into writing, sometimes your copywriting mojo is doing its thing and you’re mentally lining up the champagne glasses.
This feeling of awesomeness is a magic moment in copywriting.
Bek Lambert of Unashamedly Creative says she’s usually happy to hand copy over once she has done a full write, an on-the-fly re-write, and then sat on her thinking-lounge with a printed version and done her best impression of a super-fussy critic.
For me it happens when:
- I know I’ve checked off the main points in the copywriting brief.
- I’m confident the tone and style are a good fit.
- I’ve edited the copy and cut 30-50% (of fluff).
- I’ve written a few wordy gems that make me feel like the copy is better than the average bear.
Although I know there will be some fine-tuning to do, the copywriting is ‘match fit’ and I feel good about hitting Send.
Copywriting is a collaboration.
These signals aren’t like a full house in poker. You don’t need all of them before you act. In fact, you need just one.
Let’s recap. Rather than sit on your copy, send it to your client when:
- You’ve got a bold and exciting idea and you’d like a ‘hell, yeah!’ before you devote weeks to writing copy.
- You’re selling it to yourself. You’re comfortable you’ve chosen the most compelling angle for the audience and that your messages are succinctly and clearly written.
- You’ve hit a wall and you just can’t read your copy any more.
Remember, don’t let perfection be the enemy of progress.
Over to you
Do you have different signals altogether? Share them and let’s compare notes:
Belinda Weaver shares her successful techniques for creating engaging brands through awesome copywriting. Find out when her next Copywriting Master Class is open for enrolments.
Thanks to Kate Toon, Anna Butler, Bek Lambert, Michelle Guillemard, Micky Stuivenberg and Charlotte Calder for sharing their thoughts on this topic.