Web Copywriting: Making a Website with a Copywriter in a Nutshell
Creating a new website? Sooner or later you will need to fill it with content. We’ve summarized what role copywriters play in creating a website, when to approach them, why, and how the collaboration works from the first e-mail to the launch of the site.
Best Time to Approach a Copywriter
The earlier, the better. A good copywriter handles things well even if you approach them at the stage when you already have the structure designed. That said, the sooner you find a copywriter, the sooner they can contribute with their know-how. For example, copywriters can give you useful advice about the website’s structure.
These are the most common scenarios when companies approach our copywriters in Obsahová agentura:
1. Company Approaches Copywriter After Having Decided to Make a Website
The best-case scenario. The company makes a decision to create a website and reaches out to a web developer (possibly a UX specialist, designer, or graphic designer) and a copywriter at the same time. Alternatively, the web developer recommends the copywriter, and they tackle the web development together from scratch.
Starting the project with a copywriter on your team makes things easier. You get their expert opinion on the website concept and structure, and they evaluate whether the wireframes will work or not. Web developers (or SEO specialists) may design a site structure that is technically fine-tuned, but may not work content-wise. For example, a copywriter recommends what needs to be communicated on each page and what elements are necessary.
Another key advantage is that the client doesn’t have to repeat the brief. If the copywriter comes in later, the client has to repeat the information they have already passed on to the developers — and waste their own time. In the worst case, the copywriter gets the brief only from the developers, which is risky; an important sales argument can get lost in translation.
- The sooner you let a copywriter work on your website, the more time they get to connect with your brand. When we were working on a new website for Remoska (manufacturer of electric baking pans), we had to get to know their product portfolio — see all the products live, and watch videos of their production. Without that, we would miss important details and the website would lack information.
2. Company Approaches Copywriter After Having Wireframes Designed
It happens — usually when a company or developer isn’t aware of the benefits of having a copywriter from the beginning, and decides to reach out to a copywriter as the next logical step.
No worries, though. The copywriter can handle it. First, they gather all the necessary details to create content, and then work with the wireframes from web designers. Sometimes the copywriter discovers that the wireframe doesn’t make sense content-wise, and alerts the designer so that they can change it.
Imagine that a designer prepares five boxes for the main selling points on the homepage, and the copywriter finds out only four can be filled with meaningful content. An experienced copywriter doesn’t write random text just to fill all the boxes — they suggest removing it instead.
3. Company Approaches Copywriter After Realizing the Content on the Website Is Poor
This often happens when a client writes the content on their own and receives negative feedback, or if the client hires an unskilled copywriter who comes up with content that doesn’t meet expectations.
There are two ways to handle this. The new copywriter gathers all the necessary information and rewrites the website, or conducts a content audit, where the copywriter recommends modifying the existing content to make it work. Clients usually choose the second option when they don't have the budget for rewriting the whole website — or when they want to pinpoint the biggest issues and improve the content themselves.
- At Milmar (a company that manufactures products from nonwoven fabrics), product specialists originally wrote the website. Their marketing manager wanted to ensure the content was good, so she hired us to conduct a content audit. We analyzed the content, described its weak points, and came up with ways to improve the website. Based on the results, the manager decided that the website needed professionally written content. So, we rewrote key product pages, the homepage, the About Us page, and the contacts page.
Step-by-Step Process of Making a New Website with a Copywriter
The process of creating content for your website with a copywriter depends on:
- the size of your site,
- your budget,
- your deadlines,
- the complexity of your market/products/services,
- the knowledge of your target audience.
The basic structure is always the same, though. Expect at least these six steps:
1. Finding out Where You Are at
Expect a copywriter (or a project manager when cooperating with a content agency) to ask many questions. Which parts of the website are already done, who is involved in creating the site, or what is the estimated number of web pages — these are the basic details a copywriter needs to know to assess the scope of their work.
Think about the first meeting with a copywriter not just as a business meeting but also as a consultation. Are you unsure if your site needs an About Us page? Ask the experienced copywriter sitting in front of you.
- Before we jump into a huge project such as creating a website, we let the client try us out on smaller tasks, so that they know how we operate and what kind of content to expect from us. For example, before creating a website for Bottling Printing, we started off with a case study.
If you also require other services (such as web development, graphic design, photo and video production, UX, SEO, or branding), don’t worry — a good copywriter will recommend you a fellow specialist with whom they have already worked.
2. Hour and Price Estimate
Based on the information gathered, a copywriter (or a project manager when cooperating with an agency) sends you an estimated price for each task. When creating a website, the price is usually based on the estimated hours the copywriter spends writing each page.
Aside from writing all pages, the offer should involve time and price estimates for:
- getting to know your company, products and all key details,
- creating a communication manual or content strategy (see below),
- project management,
- any extra work.
After the deal is sealed, you still have to plan the workflow, deadlines, and ways of communication. What works great for us is using project management tools such as Basecamp and Asana; we have a great workflow overview thanks to them. Much better than when just exchanging e-mails.
3. Gathering Information
We mentioned that a copywriter asks a great deal at first. At the stage of gathering information, they ask ten times more. A copywriter needs to know a lot of details to make your website thrive. Mostly about:
- your business,
- your products and services,
- the market,
- your competition,
- your customers.
In addition, a copywriter also needs to know the keywords that your site visitors often search for. That’s why drafting a keyword analysis by SEO experts is also important.
There are different ways for the copywriter to do their research. It usually depends on the size of your website, your budget, or the complexity of the topic. The most common methods which we use are:
Workshop and communication manual
Our best method for gathering information about a new client is a roughly 4-hour workshop. We visit our client or do it remotely. Two of our copywriters (and usually a project manager) thoroughly review the client’s products, strengths and weaknesses, and also look closely at the end customer — the situations, desires or fears they are experiencing when interested in the product. Roughly 2 to 6 people from the client’s company are present, typically from management, marketing, sales, and customer support.
- We always tweak the workshop to our clients’ needs. When we were drafting a career website for the IT company Melown Technologies, we focused on the company’s weaknesses and strengths in the workshop — not on their business as a whole. We had to understand the company from the perspective of a developer who wants to work there.
After the workshop, we use all of the input to create either a short communication manual or a content strategy.
A communication manual is several pages long — it suggests the best ways of communication of the company and its services based on its strengths and customer needs. Once the client approves the manual, the copywriter uses it for creating the content. The benefit is that the copywriter and the client agree on how to describe the company from the beginning.
When the company wants not just a new website but a continuous flow of content marketing, the copywriter drafts a complex content strategy. This contains the same elements as the communication manual, plus a plan to target the right people with long-term content.
The communication manual and content strategy are also perfect tools to be used by the client’s employees and other marketing suppliers. It makes it easier for them to write posts on social media, draft e-mails, or think about the right ways to communicate with potential clients at business meetings.
Two-hour video call
Some clients just want a small website. There’s no need to create a content strategy for them. We have a longer video call instead of a workshop. In about two hours we gather all the necessary information a copywriter needs to understand the client’s business.
All relevant materials
There’s no point in reinventing the wheel if the client has already attended a workshop with web designers, or had a marketing strategy developed before reaching out to us. The client sends us all of these documents, and we go through them, ask a ton of questions, and get the ball rolling.
That said, the documents must be of high quality and provide helpful information. It won't be enough if we are given just a bunch of slideshows with pictures.
We skipped the workshop when creating a website for the energy consultants PKV. Why? The web designers from the agency House of Řezáč had already done the work. They gave us detailed deliverables from the workshop and a prototype of the site.
4. Writing, Writing, Writing
Now the copywriter locks the door, puts headphones on and… writes and writes and writes. The writing process usually involves the copywriter creating one page after another and sending them to the client in several batches.
At Obsahová agentura we write copy in Google Docs. Cloud storage allows us to easily share it online with colleagues, web designers, and the client.
We always write web copy in wireframes — we create a simple template of the website and write the text into individual frames. The benefit of this approach is that the developer doesn't have to ask where text should be placed. It's clear.
5. Content Quality Control
Copywriters approach content quality control in different ways. Some send their copy to proofreaders, others to other copywriters, and some read their texts out loud. At Obsahová agentura we have the benefit of a whole team of copywriters — every single text is viewed by at least two pairs of experienced eyes (and passed through at least two pairs of experienced hands).
The client always reviews the finished content, mainly from a technical and factual perspective. They usually don’t edit the text significantly.
6. Final Check
After the client approves the copy for all pages, the content is passed on to the developers. Once the website is ready to launch, the copywriter steps in once again to do a final check.
Typically, they check for mistakes that happened when the copy was being deployed. Some parts of the text might need to be shorter or more visually appealing. This happens because the text deployed on the final web page looks visually different than in a document. When checking the site, copywriters also come across broken click-throughs or other tiny details that require adjusting.
Summary of What’s Important
Your Website is Done! What Next?
The copywriter’s work doesn’t have to end once your website is finished. Usually, they will offer you follow-up work — such as creating blog articles, case studies, or microsites. Such content can make your website thrive and attract more people.
If you are planning to create content with your team once the site is complete, the copywriter may run a training course for your writers so you can make the best-quality content yourself.
When you add more pages to the site in the future or update the text, we recommend contacting the same copywriter who created the site for you — or thoroughly familiarize the new person with your communication manual. When different people with different styles write the website, the website as a whole doesn't usually look good.