Hack: Three ways to stop being a sad copywriter

According to research by DMA, UK copywriters are “sad”. There’s a multitude of reasons for this, but here are some solutions to stop the copy blues.

Hack: Three ways to stop being a sad copywriter

The recent state of copywriting report by the DMA painted a picture of copywriting that we at Radix found unfamiliar in many ways. And we weren’t the only ones, with industry expert Tom Albrighton stating that it “isn’t a world I recognise”. The picture was bleak, with copywriters seemingly tied into relationships – whether they worked for a brand, with an agency, as freelancers, were B2C or B2B – where they are passive bodies unable to evoke actions that would lead to better working relationships and a greater quality of copy.

The DMA surveyed 433 copywriters based in Britain to produce their report, which they dubbed the “first ever British copywriting census”. The report was titled: “Why your copywriter looks sad”.

And there were three particular stats, for me, that stand out from the responses:

  • 68% think poor briefs are a barrier to good work (and 70% want better briefs)
  • 51% want more time to work
  • 61% want more insight

Certainly, these three alone could explain why only 5% of respondents thought that their best copy is always what goes live.

But if you’re really having problems with the above, how can copywriters avoid the copy blues?

3. Never second guess the client – always get a clear brief

I don’t envy you if you’ve been saddled with an inadequate brief, but there’s no point in cracking on with it. If the brief isn’t clear, get on the phone with the client and ask for more details and specifications. A call at the beginning could save you going through more amends then you originally allocated for.

And for a long-form piece of content (like an ebook), always write an outline for it and get that approved by the client first. It gives the client a chance to review what you’re proposing to write and then make any necessary corrections before you get too heavily into writing it.

2. Don’t undersell your time – base quotes on experience

Here at Radix, the time we quote for content is based on past experience, more than anything else. So try to get a feel for how long particular types of content take you.  When you need to ask for more time, don’t be afraid to, and use positive examples of where more time allowed you to write good copy.

If you need to negotiate for more time, then try talking the client through the processes involved in producing the copy.  Discuss with them  the time needed to read and understand the brief including calls that may be needed,  outlines that need to be written, potential research – taking time to understand the audience, products and services that may be featured in the content, understanding the brand’s house style and tone of voice, plus time for the copy to be reviewed before it’s sent to a client.

Help clients to understand that there’s more than just writing involved when it comes to good content.

1. Don’t wait for more insight – seize it for yourself

Among DMA’s respondents, 94% thought that the purpose of copy was to get an “emotional response”, but 61% of respondents felt that they needed more insight before they started writing. It’s hard to get an emotional response through copy if you have no accurate picture of the intended audience. If you don’t have access to relevant audience personas and the client is unable to provide any: create your own personas.

Don’t have a clear picture on the product/industry/service/issue the content is meant to address? Research it yourself – having made sure that your quote to the client accounts for the very simple fact that you will need time to research and read up on who you’re writing for and what it is that you’re writing about.

Agencies and brands need good copywriters

It might be difficult to take action on these issues, but remember that 78% of UK organisations are producing more marketing content than they previously were and digital ad spend is set to increase by 5.5% in the UK this year and reach £15.5 billion. With 51% of organisations in the UK citing that “producing engaging content” is their biggest challenge, followed by 46% saying that “producing content consistently”: brands need good copywriters now more than ever.


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