When I started my career as a copywriter, I received all sorts of advice from all sorts of people. It was the beginning of a long road of receiving advice, feedback and criticism. In fact, I would go so far as to say that my writing has received more changes than it has accolades.
That is the our life: we must write to satisfy our audience, our clients, our selves. To be a good copywriter, you must be good at taking all the advice in and weaving it all back out again as a coherent bit of writing.
My first writing coach gave me the greatest advice of all. He said:
“As a copywriter, you will know you’ve written something special when nobody notices; when no one says a word.”
To me, that statement represents everything amazing about being a writer and about great copy in general. It tells a greater story than the words he used.
He didn’t say that I’d constantly receive feedback, amends and criticism of my work. He didn’t say that most of what went out to the public would be the result of my initial inspiration and the words of a team of others. He didn’t need to.
Instead, he focussed on the positive, that in those very special moments, I would know that I received the greatest praise any copywriter can hope for: silence.
But how do you give useful feedback to a copywriter?
It’s not track changes. Nor is it red pens.
These are the tools of an editor and they are useful in providing corrections to text. Most editors are very good at using these tools and most writers accept the advice of the editor, albeit reluctantly.
Unless your project is at the proofing stage, they are entirely the wrong way to feed back to your copywriter about the copy they have written for your brand or business.
Here’s what you can do instead:
Use the ‘insert comments’ feature
Relieve the burden and hours spent reviewing copy by using the more useful feature of the Office and Adobe suites; the comment.
As I pointed out last week in how to get what you need from your copywriter, if you are in the habit of rewriting the copy instead of explaining your ideas or objections, you are not getting the most you can from the relationship with your professional web copywriter.
When you use comments and explain why a passage isn’t working, or to praise a particular phrase that you like more than others, you will be collaborating with the writer and still keeping a hand in creating the language that makes up your brand.
This is productive and it’s a better use of your time (it’s quicker to explain than to make sure it’s all corrected properly). Commenting helps your copywriter and copywriting agency to understand your position and apply a consistency across any new or previously written copy. It also gives them the space to work their magic on your behalf, instead of taking pure direction without any input.
Try speaking to each other
Sometimes it’s just easier to talk to someone and explain your views and ideas.
It’s also a good chance to build rapport with your web copywriter. The more you can do this, the more passionate the writer will be with your brand, business and ideas.
Above all the professional copywriter wants to get it right. And they are adaptable.
Copy people are good at expressing what your brand needs to say to your customers in many ways. Speaking to your copywriter will allow him or her to explore alternative concepts with you, putting you at the heart of decisions in the early phases of writing.
Do you use another feedback mechanism?
We’d love to know how you collaborate with your copywriter to get better results. Do you use email, Twitter or Skype?
Let us know in the comments.