Whether you are starting out as a freelance copywriter or are doing the writing for you own business, there are a handful of tools (the ones I use in my own copywriting business) that’ll make your life a whole lot more efficient.
I’ve talked here before about having a plan and the right tools when it comes to copywriting and blogging. Mine include templates and a roadmap for getting from point A to done with little to no bumps in the road. Of course, each copywriting project is different, and requires fresh ideas and words. But having the right tools in place makes the process smooth as silk.
The Best Tools for the Freelance Copywriter and Those Looking to DIY
If there’s one thing 2020 has taught us, it’s that we can wear even more hats than we thought possible. Some people found themselves in need of a new career and decided to step into the copywriting game. And some business owners took on tasks that were previously being outsourced, like copywriting services.
So, I’ve broken this down into two parts for each section. A little something for the freelance copywriter, a little something for the brand owner. Either way, this is how I streamline my copywriting business process.
For the Freelance Copywriter: This is numero uno because without a proper client intake process, you don’t have the work. When I first started out, I quickly realized it was waaaay important to have email templates. Not only to cut down on time spent writing the same stuff over and over, but to make sure I wasn’t forgetting anything important when onboarding a new client. I suggest taking an hour or two to work up all of your emails and responses in a word doc so it’s as simple as copy and paste next time you get a new lead.
Client intake can be a long and winding road. And instead of searching back through emails and wasting time (mine and theirs) trying to remember where I was with each new person, I hopped on board with a client management system. I checked out a few before purchasing (you can get a free trial on most of them) and settled on Dubsado. It has everything I want – from branded forms and email templates, to invoicing and client meeting scheduling. You can also send and sign contracts in the system. If I can stress one thing, it’s this…don’t do ANY work without a signed contract. Trust me, I learned the hard way. Dubsado is super easy to use and if you use my code elobs you get 20% off and I get one free month. And don’t forget to get in on that free trial!
For the Brand Owner: You, obvi, are your own client and don’t need an onboarding process. Instead, think of your copy as your client. Get straight exactly what you need copy-wise and come up with a clear game plan. This not only eliminates guesswork, it feels super good! Not quite sure exactly what type of copy you need? Get in touch and we’ll do a Free Discovery Sesh to flesh it out for you;)
For the Freelance Copywriter: Before any writing can take place, you have to get to know your client’s brand voice and personality thoroughly. I start by asking if they have branded materials they can send me, but even if they do have branding materials, I ask if they would fill out my Brand Voice Questionnaire (which I have all ready to roll in Dubsado). It’s a short and sweet questionnaire that helps me learn more about the feel of their brand, the terms they like to use, their keywords and main demographic, and so forth. It gives me the overall picture, which varies from client to client, and is essential in writing effective copy. I then craft a thorough Brand Voice Guide for each new client with all the juicy details (in a pretty and useful format that I make in a template I created in Canva (free)). I use this guide in my writing for them and share so they can use it too.
For the Brand Owner: Before you start writing, you must zero in on your brand voice and personality. As a brand owner, you are most likely intimate with these things. Even if you have branding materials, it’s still super helpful to drill down on your brand voice for a cohesive feel with your writing across all platforms. I highly recommend coming up with your own brand voice guide and use it any time you write for your business.
The First Draft
For the Freelance Copywriter: Once you have the BVG, project scope, and editorial picture all hashed out, the next step is to get writing. One tip for new copywriters, don’t literally send your first draft. When I talk about a first draft, it’s a finished document that I am letting my client view for the first time. If you send an unfinished doc, your clients will likely be somewhat horrified by what they see, and you will be equally as horrified at their reaction. Soooo, a first draft has to be complete, ready to be published, with SEO, compliance, and all the bells and whistles added in. I like to write in Word, then copy/paste it into a Google Doc for sharing, for ease of commenting and so forth. I also note in a Trello board created for each client the name of the piece of copy I sent and the date. This makes keeping track of deliverables a snap and I can double check it with my Dubsado invoice.
For the Brand Owner: You may be intimate with your offerings and projects. But it’s still a good idea to come up with a solid plan. Trello boards are great for creating content idea lists, editorial calendars, and for keeping track of pieces you’ve already written. And they can be shared with your team.
The Edits (Rounds 1 and, sometimes, 2)
For the Freelance Copywriter: My clients can either mark edits within the Google Doc or send them to me via email. Edits can be a slippery slope. I allow two rounds of edits on any piece of copy I write. Here’s why. I can almost always get it right with one round of edits, two for sure. Anything more than that usually constitutes scope creep (aka, the project looks completely different than initially described) and that is not something that falls under normal edits.
For the Brand Owner: If you are writing your own copy or blog posts, I highly recommend having a second set of eyes read it over before you put it up. At the very least, run it through Grammarly to make sure readability is high. I also like to check the Yoast plugin on my WordPress site when I write for my own blog.
For the Freelance Copywriter: Once I have made any revisions, I send the revised copy back to the client. I always create a separate Google Doc for this and, most of the time, don’t make edits in the Doc with the first draft. Some people are comfortable doing this and you can look back at history to see all changes. Personal preference, here. This is when I take the info from the Trello board and add it to the client’s invoice in Dubsado.
For the Brand Owner: I suggest you keep two files on your computer. One for copywriting, which includes any web pages, landing pages, social media posts, product label copy, etc. The second contains blog posts. Then add two folders in each, one for drafts and another for final copies. This will help you to keep track of which version you used in the end.
For the Freelance Copywriter: Invoicing is as simple as clicking Send on your Dubsado invoice. And it allows you to get paid via Paypal, credit card, or check. Easy as pie.
This may seem like a lot, but a bit of legwork up front will streamline your process. This means you get to think about what’s important, the writing! And not whether you sent that email or logged every piece of copy you sent.