Copywriting isn’t just about words. It’s actually all about how you choose those words and why. Any decent freelance copywriter in marketing will tell you that. And anyone who writes without the requisite torturous creative process isn’t worth the shavings from their pencil.
I’ve just returned from an intense meeting with a new client in Wetherby near Leeds where we discussed everything unique about their business and the myriad ways they can articulate it to customers in their copy.
“Now you know why we’ve been agonising over this for months.” Said my client, clutching her head and lowering it onto the desk. “I felt like we were going round in circles”. She sighed again.
“It’s alright, everyone goes through this.” I replied “Don’t worry, I’ve got a pretty good idea what needs to happen.”
“Well I hope you do because we haven’t got a clue where to start!”
That brief exchange charts the typical exasperation and disillusion of someone too close to the nuts-and-bolts of their business to know where to begin writing about it clearly.
It’s also the fundamental problem us freelance copywriters are brought in to solve: assimilating information, working out what’s important (and what’s just noise) then translating it into clear, meaningful copy.
The reason why it’s so difficult for a client to do this alone is because they have deep emotional connections to their business (rightly so), so every aspect of what they do feels unique and relevant. The problem’s also compounded by worries about specificity at the expense of excluding some customers, and that if they don’t talk about everything to everyone then business is doomed.
Yet as an outsider to their business, we see things with rationality and balance. And it’s our job to prioritise what really needs to be communicated. That’s what a freelance copywriter like me brings to a project.
Not just words.
That’s why any good freelance copywriter worth their words will spend as much time on analysis, planning and background research as writing.
In my experience, freelance copywriting is as much about creative support as it is technical expertise. I’m hired because my client needs a second opinion from someone who speaks up if there’s a better way to do something. I try to be fearless in the face of complexity, and break it down into digestible steps that I hand-hold my client through as we walk towards our shared goal.
For me a project is a success if I’ve expedited difficult decisions with compassion and insight, and kept momentum up on our project.
You could be forgiven for thinking that these activities slow progress. Here’s the thing though: they actually make a project quicker and easier for everyone. Because when you’ve done your homework properly words write themselves, plus the copy is more likely to be accurate and successful first time around.