Managing a high-volume copywriting project on a tight deadline

So, you have landed the dream. The biggest copywriting project you have been commissioned to write (to date) comprising thousands of perfectly chosen words sown into hand-crafted sentences to compel your client’s end customer to buy. The only problem with this dream is the reality of the proposed delivery schedule – its tight and its actually like, looming…right now…

What is the best thing to do in this situation? First of all, do not panic. This is a vital piece of advice so I will say it again. Do not panic. You just need to create a delivery plan and then be disciplined enough with your writing time and indeed your editing time (yes, it always takes way longer than we imagine, right?), to achieve both the set pages and the word counts (no cutting corners in this profession, please!) you have said you would, in this delivery plan.

Before you accept such an ambitious commission in terms of both copywriting output and turnaround time, ensure you have all the information you need from your client to prepare a realistic quotation so you are adequately compensated for this project. Then make sure you are in receipt of a detailed brief (AHEAD OF TIME!) so that you can write to this remit.

Know that if you are writing each and every day (including weekends –  yup, this does happen – bye bye, Monday to Friday 9-5) you may not enjoy the process as much as you might if you were writing shorter pieces for multiple clients where the variety would retain both your creative spark and your attention span. It may mean that for the first time, you view your copywriting as routine. This is not the case. Without doubt, know that it may become a non-negotiable and even an all-consuming part of your daily life for the duration of the project but you still have to act like the gifted wordsmith you are – bringing your imagination to each page, each day and all day long so that the quality of your words shines consistently throughout the work.

This is why the delivery plan is so important for both you and for your client. It acts as a point of reference for both of you to manage the expectations on each side. Your client’s account management time with their end customer is now a whole lot easier as they can confidently keep them up to date with progress plus it will hold your focus as a professional copywriter as you systematically create and then complete each page in order, before you start a new topic. If you are constantly feeding in completed copy to your client in a controlled manner, you can edit and amend this copy easily when you receive feedback from them, rather than creating a mountain of half written pages which have not yet been given an initial review by them to check if you are literally on the same page or not (yes…I know..but I couldn’t resist..forgive?).

Remember that timing is everything and I am not talking about the deadline set. Time your work. Know exactly how many words you write per hour and how long one page of completed copy takes you to edit. This discipline (see? not so scary stuff, actually a very helpful practice) will concentrate your efforts on the copy output in hand and remind you that yes, your professional time is valuable and so chargeable. These clear calculations and metrics can guide you as you monitor your pricing on this project and calculate future project pricing more accurately so you may never undercharge again – hurrah!

When the copy is complete do not yet relax. Ensure you have reserved enough time to edit and proofread the copy so that it is as perfect as it is possible for you to achieve. Copywriting is still an art in terms of the free rein we have to create original expression and argument to persuade people to purchase, but it is still an analytical skill needing a discerning eye to ensure it is error-free, written exactly to brief, optimised for search and of course – delivered on time, every time.

From one small business owner to all budding freelance copywriters everywhere – note that it is not just your writing which is on show when you send copy; rather it is the way you work and the way you conduct your business in terms of delivering on your communicated promises of delivery which is also very much on display. At all times – be creative, be conscientious, be cautious and yes, definitely check it all again before you find the professional courage and the freelancer confidence to hit publish.

(I did and I still do, each and every time!).

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