Let’s be honest – working with me is a pretty streamlined, efficient affair. I don’t call myself a ‘process junkie’ for nothing! One of the first steps in my onboarding process is getting prospective clients to complete an initial Quotation Request form. In this form, I ask: ‘Do you need copywriting, editing or proofreading?’ Pretty simple question, right? Well, as it turns out… no.
Quite often, I get answers like these:
Others just leave the question blank.
For clients who’ve never worked with a copywriter before (and even for those who have), working out what service they need exactly can be difficult. Particularly if they’re eyeballs-deep in their project and running out of time to meet their deadline, at which point everything becomes rather rushed and confusing.
I’ve found the easiest way to suss this out is to simply ask, “What problem do you need me to solve?” Usually, their answer slots them quite neatly into one of the following groups:
As I’m sure you’ve guessed (you clever cookie, you!):
Of course, knowing WHAT you need, you can then make an informed decision about WHO to use. Some copywriters (like moi) also offer editing and proofreading. Others don’t; which is a good thing because there are some great writers (particularly those who write fast and frantically) who have terrible attention to detail, and therefore make useless editors and proofreaders. On the flipside, some editors only edit, some proofreaders only proofread. Sometimes it’s best to stick to your knitting, as they say.
So, what exactly can you expect to get from each?
A good COPYWRITER will offer a thorough end-to-end service, taking the time to understand you and your target market, honing your unique selling proposition, developing a tone of voice, writing your copy from scratch and then working with you collaboratively to perfect it.
A good EDITOR will take your existing piece, sprinkle it with fairy dust and voila – magic! Okay, not quite – but they will improve it significantly. Changes might include restructuring, getting rid of fluff or repetitiveness, transforming technical content into plain English, inserting some personality, making sure your tone and style is on brand and giving it that extra edge to compel your readers to take action. Many people worry unnecessarily that by working with an editor they’ll lose the essence of themselves in their work. On the contrary, working with a savvy editor who really gets you can bring out even more of you in your work. One of my favourite testimonials is this one from Life Coach, Kate Caddle, who sums up the editing experience beautifully:
“Working with Sally was an absolute dream. She made my first experience of working with an editor everything I had hoped it would be. Intentional, kind, creative, and 100% me. In the most perfect way, Sally took my work and turned it into a more beautiful version of what I had created, and somehow brought even more of me out in the content. When I read the content for the first time, I had tears in my eyes, and butterflies in my belly. I instantly knew how well this would connect with my ideal clients.”
And finally, a good PROOFREADER will correct basic grammar and spelling, pick up any typos and resolve any inconsistencies (for example, capitalisation in some places but not others).
As with anything, when it comes to choosing your copywriter / editor / proofreader, do your research and then trust your intuition. My previous post, about what to look for other than experience and education, might also be helpful.
So, in closing! Work out:
1 // The problem you want to solve;
2 // What you need to solve it; and
3 // Who is best placed to offer that service.
Do that, and you’ll be on your way to a powerful piece of error-free copy that feels authentic, connects with your audience and brings home the bacon. Yum.