The Key First Step for Every Copywriting Project

You’ve landed a prime copywriting project. There’s just one question …

Where do you start and how?

Well, let me share an illustration …

Before I became a full-time freelance copywriter, I worked in the kitchen of a busy resort on the eastern shore of Maryland. Every week, there were corporate retreats, where the companies would have business meetings throughout the day, and then relax at night.

My job was to prepare most of their meals and snacks.

On the last day of their stay, the guests would often get a “lunch box” to take with them. This included a sandwich, fruit, chips, and a brownie.

I was usually in charge of making the sandwiches. This amount could range anywhere from 10 to 180, depending on the size of the group.

Now, the thought of preparing 180 sandwiches is enough to send someone into the panic zone, but, I actually enjoyed it.

The key for me was to get every bit of prep done ahead of time. That way, when I was ready to make the sandwiches, all the ingredients were right there.

Typically, I’d start the day before the lunch boxes were to go out. I’d make a list of all ingredients needed, and the exact amount of each.

Then I’d proceed to count out the cheese slices, putting them in a neat stack on a large plate. Check.

Next came the deli meats. Each sandwich had at least six slices, so portions of those were made, then arranged in piles on a platter. Check.

Last came the pieces of leaf lettuce. The amount needed was counted out and put in a bowl, with a few extra thrown in for good measure. Check.

With all the ingredients good to go, everything would get wrapped up, labeled, and put in the cooler for the next day.

Sometimes the resort had multiple groups staying at the same time, so we often had marathon prep days. That’s when I had to look for a window of time to get this done. Just another reason I wanted to get the prep done ahead of time. It could be tedious, but I knew in the long run I’d be glad.

When all was ready to go, the bread, cheese, meats, and leaf lettuce were set up in assembly line fashion in front of me on the table. In no time at all, I got all the sandwiches made and wrapped.

It was easy and fun, all because I did the extra work beforehand.

Get Organized Before You Write

The same approach can be taken with copywriting. Take a B2B project, such as a white paper. You want to get the “ingredients” together in the beginning. That way, it’s a snap when you go to write it.

First, you’ll have the initial conversation with your client about the project.

From that, you should get some key pieces of information:

  • Who is their target audience?
  • What is your client’s objective of the white paper?
  • What exactly is the topic?
  • How many pages does the client want it to be?
  • Get all the detailed info you can on the topic, then figure out how to go about getting more.

Once this is all gathered, then it’s research time. Even if you already have an overload of information, you want to go the extra mile and add to it.

Information can come from:

  • Industry publications
  • Interviews with experts
  • News sources
  • Books
  • Government research and statistics

 … just to name a few.

Now that your prep work is done, lay everything out in an organized manner on your workstation. This way, you have everything you need right at your fingertips.

There should be no interruptions with your writing. No stopping to look something up. No phone calls to your client for one piece of info you should have gotten in the beginning.

Take the time to get all you need.

Okay. Ready, set, go … write that white paper!

The initial work may seem tedious, even frustrating. But, trust me, it will be worth it.

That extra effort you put into finding the special tidbits on your topic will make your white paper stand out. Your client will look good, which will make you look good, which will probably bring you continued work with that company.

This same practice of “pre-production” can be used with every writing job you take on, just tailor it to suit your needs and style.

Comparing sandwich-making to copywriting may seem a bit odd, but is it really? In the end, your goal is the same — to create a quality product.

When all is said and done (and written), you’ll see, and appreciate, that doing the thorough preparation will truly bring about copywriting success. For you and your client.

This article, The Key First Step for Every Copywriting Project, was originally published by B2B Writing Success.

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Published: December 6, 2018

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