Content is how companies communicate with their existing and potential customers.
The first thing companies need to do is make sure that their web copy reflects the correct message.
If you are a new writer or just decided to venture into the web copy industry this article will help you put together a plan to get started.
The plan will help you follow a professional process consistently.
In all types of content development, it is important to know what the client expects from you.
In many cases, clients have a clear vision, with examples and a lot of guidelines. In many other cases clients expect you to work without any guidance which can be difficult.
Mind reading is not part of our skillset usually.
What clients generally expect is their writer to drive the entire process. They are not experts and they do not know the complexities of word crafting and CTAs and micro-copy.
Essentially you will be given a lot of “power” in the creative process.
However, to avoid having to do major edits, it is best to streamline your process and have a lot of information before you get started.
Do not worry, as in most cases the client does not expect from you to do any design or programming. Most companies have designers and programmers in their teams.
How to Start the Process
Let’s put together your process. This is best to use in your first or second meeting.
1. Initial Conversation Q&A
The first time you meet the customer you will introduce yourself and explain what you understand about their company. This will indicate to their client that you have taken the time to do your research and that you are professional in your work.
Share some information about your professional background.
Then, either create a document to hand over for them to answer questions or ask the questions verbally and take notes.
What are some of the best questions to ask to begin with?
Who is your target audience?
What are you currently doing to get this audience on your website?
Why do you feel the website needs updating? What is it they do not like about their content?
Do they have any suggestions they want you to consider while working on their website copy?
Who are their biggest competitors? (find links to their websites)
During this phase, you need to be ready to answer some questions they might have for you.
How long does the process take?
Have you done similar work?
Do you have any suggestions already?
Regarding the amount of time you need, it highly depends on how many projects you are running. If you have completed similar work, excellent. If not, then you have a sample portfolio ready with ideas including real examples. For example, take existing companies out there and show how you would improve the copy.
If they ask for suggestions at the first meeting, it is generally better to let them know that you have many ideas and that you prefer to present some samples in your next meeting. Avoid giving ‘free’ copy ideas.
2. Secure the Project with a Great Proposal
Put together a template you can use with your logo, mission statement and contact information.
The template should speak of your style and creativity.
Once your template is ready, you can put together a proposal.
What do you need to include in your proposal?
A summary section of everything you covered with the client in the first meeting.
A description of how you will deliver the copy. Here you can include details such as the tone you will use and the message you want to focus on. Here you can also include how many words or pages you will be delivering.
Expected delivery date
The price (feel free to provide the range based on industry standard. The client wants to know if they are not overpaying)
Close the proposal by saying that you are available to start the project on [insert date] and ask them if they prefer to review each copy as you go along, or if they refer that you deliver the final copy at the end.
Offer your client 1 or 2 free revisions.
Be transparent and professional by letting them know how much additional revisions costs etc.
3. Collect Other Important Information
Once the client has accepted your offer you need to collect as much information as possible from them.
What type of information do you need to collect?
What is their main focus? Traffic? Conversion? Downloads? Etc
Mission and vision statements
Products and services
Keywords (if any) they want to use
Do they need meta descriptions added as well?
What are some offers and discounts coming up?
Here you have an opportunity to ask the client if they need any additional services such as newsletter content, blog articles, flyer content, etc.
Feel free to make some suggestions because in many cases the client has not thought through the entire process and all the content opportunities available.
4. Initiate a Collaboration Meeting
If there is a designer on board you might have to coordinate and work closely with them. Ask them to send you any possible new web design ideas that will be accommodating your copy. Seeing where the copy will be placed will allow you to deliver more precise results.
Ask if the team is working on a particular project management tool and ask if you can be added to the software for the duration of your collaboration.
Project management tools streamline processes and keep track of everything, making it super easy to communicate.
5. Develop the Copy
Now you are ready to start writing the web copy.
Make sure you deliver a well organized and professional copy by indicating with different sizing headlines, CTAs, body content, subheads, keywords, etc.
You can create a template that you use each time you deliver content that is consistent with your branding as a writer.
When you deliver the content, spare a section on your template where you explain the choices you made. Let them know why you chose the particular CTA or headline, etc.
Before you shake hands goodbye with a client, ask their permission to use their website as part of your portfolio.
Do you feel ready to venture into the world of website copy?