How to brief your copywriter

Copywriting from a client perspective

A written brief is the most important thing you need to give your copywriter. This is detailed plan of what you need. But it can’t be produced off the top of your head – even though you think you know what you want – you do have to commit your ideas to paper, if only figuratively. To make your task easier, a good copywriter will have a ‘discovery call’ with you to kick it all off to find out what you need. This can’t really be done by email – as nuances are lost and, in any case, so much valuable information can be obtained from a face to face discussion – on both sides.

Why good copy is important for your business

It will reflect your unique tone of voice that separates you from the competition. It should sit well with your target customers and encourage them to respond. Good copy should make people want to deal with you and will win you business.

Conversely, bad copy will lose you business. It’s not just the sloppy errant apostrophe, but boring wordy stuff of no interest to your visitors will have them bouncing off your site. And they won’t be prepared to dig around for information unless you have already persuaded them that it is worth it.

But copywriters are not mind readers or fortune tellers.

Don’t risk them second-guessing anything; make everything really clear.

Client copywriter brief top tips

Are you that nightmare client who sends the copywriter the equivalent of the shoebox full of till receipts to the accountant – that is, you send them everything that’s ever been printed about you, all the web links you’ve ever had – not in one email of course but drip fed, like Chinese water torture over a period of days or even weeks? You’re not? That’s good news.

  • The brief should be in writing, even if it’s ‘super urgent’ and you are ‘really busy’.
  • Send your copywriter enough supporting information (eg images) to help to do the job in hand, but don’t overwhelm with anything irrelevant.
  • Make sure the copywriter knows why you are wanting this piece of work and what you want it to do, even if it’s obvious: to drive more visitors to the website, encourage sign-ups or to attract leads are examples.
  • If you provide a good brief the first draft could well end up being the final piece of work, with maybe just a word or two changed.

In my experience, lots of back and forth with copy is usually because the brief wasn’t nailed down at the outset.

Bespoke client copy

Each piece of work written by a good copywriter is unique. We write for our clients in a new way each time, depending on the task at hand. It’s bespoke work, which is why good copywriters don’t use a stopwatch or quote by the word: there’s much more to it than that.

Clients often say they want to copy to be ‘modern’ or ‘simple’. In our discovery meeting, we’ll find out exactly what you understand by those terms in relation to your business.

It’s hard to get things perfect the first time. And sometimes a client has to ‘see’ something to realise it isn’t exactly what they meant or envisaged. We get that: a good copywriter will include a set number of minor revisions (I include two) in each substantial piece of work.

Making client amendments or changes

The nightmare client sends the copy back with lots of changes, often adding in grammatical errors, sometimes with comments from ‘the girls in the office’. Not you? That’s good to hear.

It’s better not to touch the copy, but to phone (or email) explaining your concerns and talking it through together. Copywriters write every word for a reason and once you understand why you might be prepared to leave the copy as it is.

However, you are the client, and if you really want to change the copy, of course, a good copywriter will do that happily, especially if you had had a discussion about it.

How to be a great client

But you know this already. No?

Copywriters understand you are busy, but hopefully, this post has demonstrated how most good copywriters work. A bit of collaboration at the beginning will bring the best results. And a happy future working relationship for us all.


Want to brief a good copywriter? Coo-ee. 020 8288 8573 Olivia


Image credit: Shreyas Shah on Unsplash