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Big copywriting projects – 5 things to ask your copywriter

Many events prompt a big copywriting project. It may be a website redevelopment, a branding exercise, or even a new product launch. In any case, you suddenly find yourself faced with a mountain of content which needs to be reviewed, refined, and (most likely) re-written.

Thankfully the powers that be have given you a budget to hire an external copywriter to help with the work.

Now from a copywriter’s perspective, big projects are a completely different kettle of fish than a quick-turnaround brochure or web page update. They require far more planning and often a different approach. You really need to understand how a project works, and how your component (the writing) fits in with everything else.

Often, you need to do far more non-writing activities like content audits, schedules, and stakeholder interviews than you’d otherwise allow for.

So from your point of view, when it comes to selecting the copywriter for your big project, make sure you ask them these questions to see if they’re going to be the best fit for your project.

Have you worked on a big copywriting project before?

A copywriter who understands the basics of project management will be easier to manage than one who doesn’t. This includes things like stakeholder engagement, scope changes, and risk management.

Do you have a day rate?

Personally I find it easier to work on a day rate for big projects because you have to be more fluid with the timing of deliverables. Allocating which days you’ll be working makes it easier for the project manager to schedule meetings and allocate tasks.

When quoting for big projects I break the project up into a number of core deliverables, each with an estimated amount of days. I then identify key milestones to re-assess if the days are still realistic.

Have you allowed enough time for feedback?

This is an important one. From my experience, the best-planned content project can still be de-railed by rounds and rounds of feedback. Even if you stipulate your hours only cover two rounds of feedback, some organisations simply don’t work like that (no matter what they say). So you have to be flexible and adapt along the way, and that’s why I use milestones to re-assess how much work can be done in the time allocated (see the question above).

What happens if the scope changes and there’s additional work to be done?

Find out if your copywriter has other copywriters who can be called on, or if they have the capacity themselves to take on the additional work.

What’s your availability after the project is scheduled to finish?

Delays are common. Don’t get trapped by having your project run over time and then losing your copywriter because they are already booked immediately after your project finishes.

What’s your experience with big copywriting projects? Have they gone to plan?

Share your thoughts below.

 

I can help you with the content strategy and copywriting components of your next content project. Send me an email to get in touch.

 

E-book review: The Unlimited Freelancer and SEO Secrets

Ok, I’ve got something to admit – I’m a sucker for an e-book. My laptop is full of downloaded articles, books and reports. A lot paid for. Most of them unread.

In the past I’ve found that a lot of books leave you feeling warm and fuzzy and ready to take on the world – but when the push comes to shove they are light on with the real nuts and bolts of *how* to do it. Or, they seem too far removed from anything that you could possibly achieve – so you give up before you even start.

Today I had some reading time and discovered two gems in my collection: The Unlimited Freelancer and SEO Secrets.

Both have been written by people who I admire – clever, friendly and interesting web copywriters. Both are meaty – The Ultimate Freelancer is 200 pages and SEO Secrets is 213 pages. Both are great value for money.

And best of all – both give you some real, practical tools that you can apply to YOUR business.

The Unlimited Freelancer

The Ultimate Freelancer is written by Mason Hipp and James Chartrand (from Men with Pens) and published by FreelanceFolder.com. It’s easy to read, to the point, and very practical – real get your hands dirty advice (which I like). The focus of the book is on the behind the scenes stuff that a successful freelancer needs: good systems; a good team; and good revenue generating assets.

It’s been written to benefit any type of freelancer, not just writers – so it’s a lot about business sense not the freelance writing industry.

Software is suggested under the ‘Systems, software, and automation’ section – and there are even some that I can use (being in Australia). I am now on a mission to figure out what combination is going to help me the most.

I would have liked some extra case studies (I like seeing how others have done it), and even though it’s great that there are 200 pages – I did end up printing it out for quick reference. Which is good I guess as it’s definitely something I’ll go back and refer to as I clean up my systems and processes.

All in all, an excellent book – and a bargain at US$29. You can download The Unlimited Freelancer from the FreelanceFolder site.

The Ultimate Freelancer

The Ultimate Freelancer

SEO Secrets

First a quick disclaimer: I haven’t been paid in any way for this review but I have signed up for Glenn’s affiliate program for his book. So, if anyone from this site purchases the book I do get a commission. So please, if you are going to get the book – follow the link from this page 🙂

I found Glenn Murray from Divine Write on Twitter and have been an interested follower ever since. When he released version two of his SEO Secrets book, I was quick to download it. I admit it took me a while to get through it (it’s so big!), but now I’m kicking myself that I didn’t do it sooner as – even though I do know a fair bit about SEO – this book is going to be my go-to guide for any of my SEO questions.

It’s very practical, and drills down to a level that – if you follow the step-by-step instructions – you can improve your website quickly, easily, and without any real technical knowledge.

It covers:

  • keywords
  • search engines
  • optimising WordPress blogs
  • content optimisation
  • developing optimised sites
  • social media.

It’s an entry-level book on SEO – but covers the fundamentals so well that even people who understand SEO well will benefit from a read. At US$79.95 it’s also well worth the money.

SEO Secrets

SEO Secrets - Click image to purchase

Intranet redevelopment planning 101

I’ve recently been appointed as the Project Manager for a large intranet redevelopment (yes, another one). Part of the redevelopment will be the implementation of a web content management system (WCMS). I’ve now got a couple of these types of projects under my belt, but as they usually take so long (due to the size of the sites), it’s always good to sit down and re-visit some great intranet/cms resources. Here are my favourites:

Step Two Designs

Definitely the leaders in all things intranet, KM, and CMS, James Robertson and his team provide an invaluable insight in what to do and what not to do with these types of projects. The best thing about their site is the abundance of useful articles and papers, most of which are free to view.

Mark Morrell – the BT intranet guy

Mark is lucky enough to work in an organisation where the value of a good intranet is recognised and cherished. He takes you through different redesigns, enhancements, and general observations on how to manage a large intranet. Well worth the read.

AGIMO better practice checklist – Implementing a CMS

Even though it has a government focus, it’s still a really useful checklist that you can also download as a PDF.

CMS watch

If you’ve got some money to spend, then CMS watch can be quite good. You have to pay for the detailed reports, but the blog can contain some useful info.

What other resources are out there? Please let me know.