The second part of my philanthropic show and tell on how I work my copywriting magic. Read part one first if you missed it.
6. Plan structure
There’s a clever way to do this with post-it notes: each one is an idea or concept you want to add. You then shuffle these around until you’ve got an order you’re happy with. I don’t own enough post-it notes so I tend to scribble and erase as I go along.
The structure becomes the reader’s journey through your narrative so your plan must be designed to guide them through it.
Put pencil to paper and just write. Even if you’re not proud of what comes out at first – ignore mistakes, just put a line through them and carry on copywriting in line with your outline plan (but don’t be afraid to veer away from it). Keep momentum up and quality will follow. Sometimes, I might type straight into a computer if I feel confident enough to confront that blinking accusatory cursor. That saves a bit of time transcribing from your handwritten scrawl.
My head tends to get hot with all that thinking so now’s a good time for a break.
8. Red pen
Read and dissect your copy with scientific precision, shuffle words and sentences around and refine it in line with your brief. Keep one eye on the bigger picture too, so there’s a logical journey and ideas flow coherently through your copy.
Edit your original draft with those red pen changes. New ones will occur to you while you’re writing so accomodate those too. Read it through a few times (aloud at least once) until you feel comfortable with it. Try to avoid striving for perfection because it doesn’t exist, strive for excellence instead. You’ll know instinctively when it’s ready to show to the client – for me it’s a little voice that says “that’s enough for now Chris.”
10. Client review
Knowing how to present copy to the client is tricky. Sent as an email, it reads in isolation without your careful justifications for the creative decisions you’ve made. Present it face to face and your client won’t have time to read it properly and lament on the copy. I prefer the former, because if your copywriting does its job properly, it shouldn’t need a great deal of justification. Plus it depends on what works best for your client.
Depending upon how close you are to the bullseye, you’ll either have minor corrections or a ‘go back to step 7’. This is a good indication of how effective your planning and research was. If you put extra effort into clarifying your assumptions earlier, you’ll avoid more work later.
What’s your workflow?
Despite its orderly linear nature, mine isn’t meant to be prescriptive, it’s in constant change and evolution as it should be. So pick which bits work best for you and adapt to each job.