The five stages of a copywriting project

Jo Marshall | December 13, 2021 | Copywriting |  Higher education |  Writing Tips | 

Every copywriting project is different. But most will include the following stages:

1. The Nosey Parker Stage

It’s the start of your project, get ready. Your copywriter is about to turn into the word-focused equivalent of the Spanish Inquisition. Questions, questions, questions. Your writer will undoubtedly have lots of them, so expect to be quizzed, probed and (gently) challenged. What does it all mean? Why is it important? Where can we find out more about that particular thing? You’ll be asked all of those things (and more) before your trusty wordsmith even contemplates getting a single word on the page.

2. The Drowning in Source Material Stage

If the briefing and asking questions was your copywriter dipping their toe into your subject, this next stage is about them diving right in. Your writer needs to fully immerse themselves in anything that’s relevant to do with your project – previous comms, competitor sites, branding documents. So they can glean all the important bits, and weed out any of the gubbins. And then use all of that, alongside the brief, to start getting their thoughts into some kind of order.

3. The Messy First Draft Stage

The stage you (thankfully) never see. The part where your writer takes everything from stages 1 and 2 above and has their best first stab at your copy. It could be good, really good. Or, more than likely, it could be blimmin awful. But it’s a rite of passage all copy projects have to go through. This is where your writer gets it all out onto the page, so they’ve got something rather than nothing. Something to mull over. Something to change their mind about. But, most importantly, something to work with.

4. The Marie Kwondo Stage

As dear Marie frequently asks us, ‘does it spark joy’? That’s what your copy needs to do. And that’s what good editing is all about. This is where your writer gets their tidying hat on. They’ve got the bones of what they want to say down. Now it needs to be prettified. Is that the best word to make people feel that thing we want them to feel? Could it be less cluttered, more ordered, more joy-sparkingly good? Your writer will tweak, hone and tidy up your copy until they can tidy it no more.

5. The Dotting the ‘I’s and Crossing the ‘T’s Stage

And finally, that heart-in-the-mouth moment – when your writer shares their carefully-crafted creation with you. Go easy on them. They’ve put their sweat and soul into it. But if anything’s not right, or not quite how you want, this is the time to talk it through. Your writer will know how to take any feedback on the chin and deal with any amends sensibly. Because they’re a consummate professional. And because – most importantly – they want the same thing as you. To create a piece of copy that talks to the people you want to reach and moves them that bit closer to taking the desired action. You’ll get there, together. Because (perhaps more than anything else) that’s what the best copywriting projects are all about.