Setting up a copywriting process from scratch

June 6, 2018
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If you work for a web design agency, your process is pretty much out of your hands. Your project runs through a project manager, gets assigned to you, and it’s your job to get everything written, approved, and set up.

But what happens if you don’t have a clear copy process set up? How are you going to get the clients to believe that you have anything to offer? How are you going to hit project deadlines and get your boss’s approval? We have some ideas.

Here’s what an old copywriting process looks like on a regular Tuesday:

9-10 a.m.: 1-hour phone chat with client where you frantically scribble chicken scratch on a notebook

10-11: coffee, coffee, think think, think, and pace

11-2: Stare at computer screen, write down things client mentioned

2-4: Coffee, research cats stuck in wells, write one paragraph of web copy

4-5: Note to client that things are in progress

Okay, that’s great, except for one thing: there’s no process. A streamlined copy process will help you do a few things:

  1. Stay organized
  2. Share your plan with potential clients (hint: get more sales)
  3. Cut down prep time
  4. Deliver quality goals every time (hint: impress your boss)
    So what does a streamlined copy process look like?

Exterior organization

  • First point of contact between you (or your team) + decision maker
  • Project deliverables are explored
  • Contract is drafted and signed
  • Payment is processed

Internal Organization

  • Project is distilled and information is sent to you, the copywriter

How to organize content so you don’t have to plan from scratch

To do this properly, you need to see and understand how you work. Each content plan will differ depending on the content writer.

Copy Checklist

For one month, create a checklist that includes every step you take for every deliverable you produce
Your checklist might look something like this:

  • Client discovery call (30 mins)
    • Note client’s main goals
  • Draft Proposal
    • Develop main nav
    • Draft mission statement
    • Note potential issues
    • Develop ain architecture
  • Draft deliverables
    • Headline (3 options)
    • Tagline (3 options)
    • Web copy for 5 pages

Once you have a checklist, you should start uncovering exactly what processes you need to organize. Notate each item in your list. Note what works and what doesn’t work. Describe, in detail, what questions you ask clients, how they respond, and how you get to your goals easily.
Have great client calls but get caught up on the small details? You may need to be more thorough in your proposal.

After that month, you’ll be able to fill in gaps and see what’s working and what wasn’t working.

Copywriting Process Goes Into Effect

Customer details are gathered and any important information is filled in

After step A, you should have full information about client needs, goals, and set backs, you should understand who their target audience is, you should see what’s holding them back from hitting their goals.

Client’s Main Pain Points Are Uncovered

Use the data from step A to uncover and write down client’s main pain points.

Develop a list of 3-5 main pain points that you’ll address in the copy.

Copy Plan is Developed

  1. Gather customer details and information (through a discovery call or discovery chat)
  2. Identify client’s main pain points
  3. Propose detailed copy plan to help client resolve their issues

How to Develop Copy Plan that Converts

Now that you have a process set up, you’ll free up some time for the fun part. Creativity. This is the part that everyone thinks of when you tell them you’re a copywriter, right? It’s the money maker. It’s the whole shebang. And now that you have space for it, you better understand how it works.

Writing good copy is about one main point: understanding your audience deeply and conveying a tailored message directly to them.

If you’re selling oranges to people with citrus allergies, it doesn’t matter how good your copy is. So how do you remedy it?

1. Discover everything you can about your audience

2. Use apps wisely

  • Localytics helps you create ads and target specific audiences
  • Mixpanel helps you see how users engage with your products
  • Heap provides info on customer touch points

3. Plan for content design, not just good copy

Copy isn’t just about writing some interesting bits of content; it’s about uncovering user needs and designing content for that main goal.

In her book “Content Design,” Sarah Richards (the woman who helped refine the website) talks about some main ideas for good content design

  • Use high frequency words (i.e. easier words)
  • Use Google Trends to figure out how people look for your content
  • Look at bounce rate to see what pages are working
  • Determine why people come to your site and what sort of goals they want to achieve with it

Once you have a content plan set up, you can start to develop copy that works toward your content goals. CTAs and ROIs will roll off the page even easier with this copy plan.

Share it with your team members and bosses

Good copy doesn’t matter unless you have approval. Here’s our 5-step process to approval

1. Organize everything in an external platform

  • Jumpchart lets you create clean sitemaps and professional wireframes so your boss or clients can approve it quickly
  • Dropbox Paper is a mobile app that allows you to organize your content
  • Google Docs is an easy collaboration platform that lets you share large files with team members

2. Plan a session. Gather all the decision makers in your company and organize a decision making session.

3. State a clear purpose. Describe in clear terms what the purpose of the session is, what you’ll be presenting, and what you hope to achieve at the end of the session.

4. Use stats to back up your goals. Share clear user stats to make your point clear.

5. Have a clear path to approval. Let the decision makers know that you’ll need to come to a clear decision about X before the end of the meeting. If everyone knows what you’re working toward, it’ll be easier to reach your goals.

Writing good copy is as much about the copy as it is about designing a plan, so remember: create a good plan and execute it by sticking to clear, well-defined goals. Your boss will approve, and your clients will be as excited as you are.

Kallie Falandays writes copy for Entermotion, a website design studio based in Wichita, Kansas, and Jumpchart, a web app that makes web planning easier.