Preparing for a writing project… before you start writing

Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on

Whether you’re a novice copywriter or content writer, or have years of experience in the field, you should prepare before doing any writing. Writing by the seat of your pants – without preparation and research – might work in some cases, but it’s not a recipe for success. You’ll often miss the mark with the client, and will have to write the draft again, possibly from scratch. If you totally miss the mark, you might annoy or lose the client, which is not a way to run your writing business.

Follow these four steps when preparing for a copywriting project (you can apply these tips for content writing as well):

  1. Get the client’s previously published material on the product.
    • Ask the client for material before attending any briefings or writing any copy.
    • Check out the client’s website for published materials.
  2. Ask the client questions about the product.
    • What are its features and benefits?
    • What does the client consider most important about the product?
    • What competitors’ products exist, and what are their features and benefits?
    • What are the product’s applications?
    • What typical problems does it solve? What about secondary problems?
  3. Ask the client questions about the audience.
    • Who uses the product?
    • Why do they use it?
    • What are their main concerns?
    • What do you know about their persona?
  4. Identify the objective of the copy.
    • Generate inquiries?
    • Increase sales?
    • Qualify prospects?
    • Build brand recognition?
    • Support marketing efforts?

Once you’ve collected this key information, you can start writing your copy. Ideally, the client will provide a brief that includes this information, but you should ask for at least this much before writing your first words.

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