Copywriting Q&A: How Projects Actually Come Together

How the Creative Process WorksFor people who are just starting out as copywriters, there’s an element to the copywriting process that’s often kind of a mystery. Namely, well, pretty much the whole process. How does a project get started? How when do you work with a designer? How does your work get seen? All great questions and all things you need to know. Time to find out!

Today’s question comes from Parminder S. who asks, “When do I get the creative brief? How do I show my boss my work? How does it all work??”

Believe me: what seems confusing and intimidating now will eventually seem completely natural, even routine. It’s just matter of learning how it works. So…here’s how it works!

Step 1. The project manager comes up with a project

Any project comes about because a company has a problem to solve. They need more sales or more subscriptions or they need to increase brand awareness—any of these goals or one of a dozen others. Based on the problem the company needs solved, a project manager will come up with a project to address it.

Step 2. The project manager fills out a creative brief

Once the project is identified, the project manager needs to communicate it to the people who will help to solve it—you and your design partner. They way they do this is through the creative brief, a document that breaks down all of the objectives, the information about benefits and the target audience and all of the other important details.

Step 3. The project manager holds a kickoff.

This is the meeting in which the project manager presents the creative brief to the designer, copywriter and anyone else who holds a stake in the project—and this could be anywhere from a handful to a dozen people, depending on the project. This is the opportunity for you and your designer to ask any questions and to make sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to objectives and expectations.

Step 4. You and your designer concept.

Together, you and your designer will think through the project and brainstorm (or “concept”) possible solutions. When you hit on ones you feel meet the mark, you’ll take note of those. Depending on how many iterations the project manager wants to see, you may leave the concepting session with anywhere from one to a handful of concepts to flesh out.

Step 5. You write. Your design partner designs.

After you and your designer have come up with concepts, you’ll split up to do your own work. You’ll put together some copy in a copy doc (knowing that you’ll probably make some changes in layout) and your designer will start the layout.

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Step 6. You and your designer get back together.

You’ll send your copy doc to your design partner and, after he/she has had a chance to put it into the design, you’ll both get back together in front of the computer and make sure the design and copy work well together. You’ll both have to make tweaks to your contributions but, in the end, it will be for the best of the piece as a whole.

Step 7. You present your work in a creative review.

Once your work is in the best possible place, you’ll present what you have in a creative review meeting. All of the original stakeholders from the first meeting will be there, and everyone will be offering feedback on your work. You’ll explain your reasoning for choices and discuss the issues that need to be addressed in the current iteration.

Be prepared: The vast majority of the time, 99% of the time, you project won’t be approved in the first creative review. This is perfectly fine and completely natural—everyone’s feedback will just help you to revise your project and make it even better.

Step 8. You revise your work.

You and your design partner will go back and incorporate any feedback you’ve received from the stakeholders. You’ll have some problems to work through and may have to change major portions of what you’ve created, but it’s important to keep your stakeholders’ needs—and, very crucially—the creative brief in mind.

Repeat steps 7 and 8 as often as necessary.

You may have to present and revise a couple of times. You’ll want to put your best foot forward, of course, but sometimes changes just need to be made. The most important thing is to do your best work, every time and all the time.

Your turn! What do you think about the creative process?Did anything surprise you? Let us know in the comments below!

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