Collaborating? Who do you listen to – and when?

Copywriting and collaboratiohn

Advice, collaboration, feedback, input. Whatever name it goes by, it can be tricky. But like everything in life, it’s about balance. If you have no single vision for what you want to achieve, all the advice, feedback and collaboration in the world won’t help. At the same time if you bullishly follow your vision, ignoring any input at all, that isolation may cost you.

It’s about time. It’s about you.

It’s important to know when to open yourself up to feedback. And that’s quite personal. Some people may find it more useful to request it early, at ideas stage – and then maybe again later, to help finesse the end copywriting product. Others prefer to work collaboratively throughout the process, taking feedback at each stage as they go; so work out what’s right for you.

Keep it positive

How you perceive feedback is important. And will make a huge impact on your blogs, social, website content other copywriting. You can chose to see it as an external source, judging your finished work as right or wrong. Or you could view it as valuable input into a work in progress. This is the approach I take personally with the copywriting work we do and that I share with the writers I work with. It keeps us open minded and makes us more likely to take input as inspiration. But it’s a choice you need to make.

Pick your collaborators

As a freelance copywriter it can be hard to collaborate, partly because we often work in isolation. But also because there are specific types of copywriting feedback you need at certain times. For example you might want input on tone of voice but not on content structure because you’ve already locked this down with a client. So you need to be able to ask for exactly the input you need, whether that’s on tone of voice creation, scriptwriting, blog writing or something else. As a result who you ask is key. Of course you’ve got to be confident in their copywriting expertise and experience but most of all, in their honesty. As with some many things, it’s about knowing who to trust.

The right type of collaboration

Different copywriting work needs different styles of collaboration. For blogs and articles, short reports and website re-writes, collaboration may mean a quick check of the brief by another copywriter, a read through and a few small suggestions. For more complicated work, such as content strategy, tone of voice and brand personality development the process is richer.

In these cases our copywriters are collaborating with the client too, which makes sense as they know their business better than us. We have a fun way of teasing out their feelings about the company, which we use to build our work on. At each stage of the development we take client feedback before we move on, so the client is genuinely involved in the creative process. Then throughout the content creation process we work together on how the new personality and voice are operating. And then it’s back to the client for more feedback – so really, nothing happens in isolation.

Feedback or die

I love feedback. Frankly, I’d have no copywriting business without it. It’s integral to how my business model works. Mostly, when people want a freelance writer, they hire one. And that’s what they get, one freelance copywriter. With us, they still have one main copywriter but they also have the brain of another senior copywriter, to sense check, feed in new ideas and even challenge the main copywriter’s approach. So that feedback and re-thinking is a big part of what makes our work effective.

A final word from Gran

I know there are many examples of strong loners, such as Elon Musk, who’ve had great success, despite ignoring advice. But I’d guess that while they ignored the voices saying they’d never do it, they paid close attention to people with cool ideas for how to do things better. My Nanna once gave me the best piece of advice she had ever been given: “Take advice”, she said. And I do.

Alex Genn

View posts by Alex Genn
I run a team of 25 senior-level copywriters and am myself a professional copywriter with over 15 years' experience.
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