The Profit Potential of Working Together

It used to be good enough for designers and copywriters to work separately. But because today's DM market is filled with skeptical prospects, you need to leverage every advantage to bolster your package's success.

One of the most rewarding ways (financially and personally) to do so is to work directly with the copywriter who created the package.

To let you know how rewarding this can be, we spoke with master designer Lori Haller and her master copywriting partner Donna Doyle.

IFD: When you started as a freelancer, did you work directly with other copywriters or designers?

LORI: Before working so successfully with Donna, if a company didn't hook us up, I didn't ask. I felt it was probably “not my business.”

DONNA: Same here. I just stayed in my realm. I wrote and let designers design.

IFD: When did you start collaborating professionally?

LORI: I'd done lots of controls, but not with a weight-loss product. When I saw Donna's copy, it was wonderful to see her new, exciting ideas. Agora gave me the okay to call Donna, and we hit it off. We came up with many ideas that we liked, and worked together with the marketing director. In the end, our promo beat the control 2 to 1!

DONNA: It's like Lori said. But I didn't realize that Lori had also done the graphics for another one of my packages a few months earlier … so she was already familiar with my work.

IFD: What are the benefits of collaborating?

DONNA: There are lots. Here are three main ones.

  1. Mutual recommendations. When a client hires me for a project and needs a designer, I recommend Lori. I've passed Lori's name on to other clients. And Lori has passed my name on to her clients. We've gotten projects for several brand-new clients this way.

  2. Brainstorming and bouncing ideas. A negative about freelancing is that you . work in a vacuum. You don't have coworkers to bounce ideas off of. When you work with a collaborator, though, you have the luxury of exchanging ideas that will make the overall writing and design of the package stronger and better.

    Seeing your copy printed out is one thing. But you'd be amazed by how different the words flow once they're laid out. Many times, I'll see that I need to change a headline, cut a section, or add a chart. You couldn't do that if you weren't working with the designer.

  3. Knowing what works and what doesn't. Working with Lori, she'll tell me things like, “I used that idea for another client, and it didn't work well,” or “Graphically, a magalog works better than a slim Jim.”

    This works on my end, too. I usually include some type of interactive comparison chart in my copy. Clients love it and it helps involve the prospect. But it needs to be written and formatted a certain way or else it won't work. If I'm not able to collaborate with the designer, it might not be designed correctly and the package could fail.

LORI: Let me add that designers and copywriters truly get an edge when we work together. We become a strong team, learning from each other. Then that tiny bit of our history together becomes bigger and juicer. It grows with the next promo and the next. Working together really gives a team the strength needed to pull off a BREAKTHROUGH WINNER.

IFD: How do you find collaborators?

LORI: I listen for names associated with winning projects at meetings, seminars, and interviews. Sometimes, people will mention that a piece was done by so-and-so. I make a mental note as to who it is and learn more about that person.

I gather samples, read them, and watch for styles. I attend conferences like the AWAI Bootcamp and talk to presenters and attendees. I read a variety of publications relating to direct mail. I also give out names when asked who I've worked with and who writes good copy. It's FUN meeting other copywriters and artists along the way. You not only get new clients and make big winners, I've also made several very close lifelong friends.

DONNA: I tell all my clients when they book me that I'd like to see the project through until it goes to the printer. So I make it clear that I'll work with their designers. If I enjoy working with them and like their style, I ask them if they'd be interested in working with nme on future projects. They recommend me if a client needs a writer, and vice-versa.

IFD: Any last comments?

LORI: Donna and I have a special relationship when working together. We trust each other and are good listeners. We're not afraid to let the other one take the lead.

DONNA: Totally. This is the way freelancers should work together. Trust and respect each other and you will turn out winning packages.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »


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Published: April 6, 2006

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