What Do I Need to Get Started on a Website Copy Project?

Kelley Gardiner headshot, striped sweater, smiling

"What Do I Need to Get Started on a Website Copy Project?"

You’re not alone — this is the most common question I get.

It would be *nice* if we could just wave a magic wand and make copy happen. But your expert knowledge is the pixie dust. Our copywriting know-how is the incantation. So: magic, but there’s still work involved. And we have to work together.

Summary: Be prepared with a budget and information to share about your business. Plan on several hours to meet with a copywriter, fill out paperwork, and review copy.

Everything you need to get started on a website copy project

Everyone:

  • Budget
  • Time for a few meetings
  • Emotional energy to review and approve copy
  • Clear focus on your business goals*👇

If you have an active business with clients and a website:

  • Client contact info for interviews
  • Digital and print marketing materials
  • Testimonials
  • Website analytics

*👋 Want to start focusing on what those business goals will be? Grab your free website copy planner.

Graphic with text: "What you need to start a website copy project"

Budget

Let’s be honest: for small business owners, budget is the first and sometimes biggest hurdle. Website copywriting is a professional service that takes a lot of time and effort, so expect to pay professional prices. I’m talking a starting point of $3000-5000 for a 5-page website.

No, it’s not cheap! But as small business owners, we know how important it is to be paid for our work. And we invest wisely. It’s not always in your best interest to invest this amount of cash in a website project. But when you’re ready, you’ll talk to a few copywriters who can give you a project estimate based on how much work they think it’ll be.

I know you don’t always have a few thousand dollars laying around for website copy projects. That’s why I offer Website Copy Reviews — personalized blueprints for how to optimize your copy yourself.

If budget is a concern, consider this affordable option. Get optimized, and get back to serving your clients. 

Time for at least 4 meetings

If you’re working with me, we’ll probably have a flow that goes something like this:

  • 10-minute phone call to see if it makes sense to move forward
  • 30-minute get-to-know-you Zoom, followed by referral or proposal
  • 1-hour onboarding session
  • 20-minute copy presentation at the end

A major project like this would be a waste of your time if we did NOT take these steps.

A copywriter will also expect you to be pretty available during the course of a job. Questions do pop up.

Emotional energy to review and approve copy

It’s a real thing.

You probably see this with your clients (or yourself) as well: they say they want to get a project done, but they actually do not want to deal with it at all. They say they’ll do the supporting work, but they leave it and leave it until the last minute. Your deadlines get pushed back. They’re not happy. You’re not happy. 

It takes emotional energy to make major changes in communicating your worth to other people. When you’re drained, good work is not getting done.

If you’re already deep into a busy period, you’ll have a hard time engaging with the work.

As a reminder: rest.

Clear focus on your business goals

Writing your website isn’t a matter of what words to put where.

(Okay, it is. But stick with me for a moment.)

Everything on your website needs to have a purpose behind it. Every word, every image, should have a strategy behind it.

Not to be sneaky. But to be purposeful.

If you’re not clear on who your business serves, what they want, and how you do it? It’s not time to invest in website copy yet.

Get totally clear and focused with your free website copy planner.

Graphic with text "If you have a current site"

Client contact info for interviews

Can we talk to your clients? Plleeeaaase let us talk to a few of your clients.

I know it seems like an imposition, but it’s just an ask. A lot of people appreciate the opportunity to be heard in a short interview. 

We also want all the information from your customers that you’re legally and morally able to give freely. Aggregate info is clutch: Who are they? Where do they live? What do they eat for breakfast? Does that egg sandwich have some kind of sauce on it?

Digital and print marketing materials

Gimme gimme gimme, everything you’ve got. Not originals, please. 

We want to see your current website, yes, please and thank you. Any hidden pages? Yes. Working with a web designer currently? Please let me talk to them.

Have any other written marketing materials? We want that too. Any social media posts that really hit and helped with conversions? We’ll gobble them up with gusto. Your employee handbook? Hell, email it, could be something there.

Testimonials

This might be the single most important item on the list.

We want all the testimonials you can round up. Allllll. Even for services you don’t offer anymore. If someone wrote down how they felt about your business, we want to know.

The language is gold. The message is gold. Testimonials are a huge part of the copywriting process.

✨ Website analytics ✨

Do you use an internal analytics program? Google Analytics? Do you have Hotjar or a similar heatmap tool installed? Can you start?

Most copywriters would love to have backend access, but do your due diligence before you hire. You don’t want to be handing out passwords to just anyone. Hand out reports generously. 

"Okay, that's all the STUFF I need. What do I have to DO to get a project started, though?”

1.Get to know and trust your copywriter.

Get some recommendations from your business friends. Check your network. Find someone you vibe with. Make sure you have similar working styles and expectations. 

2. Set aside time for onboarding.

Not only will you have at least one onboarding meeting, but you may be asked to fill out a questionnaire as well. If you want your project to go quickly, you have to… actually do this stuff. (It’s okay if you don’t like talking about yourself! Talk about your business!) You’ll be gathering a LOT of material (see above) and emailing or Dropboxing it.

3. Sign a contract and pay the deposit.

Boom. After everyone’s on the same page, you’ll make it official with some contracts and money exchanges hands. There’s already been a decent amount of work done by the copywriter by this point, but now they’ll take off running and start making that copy magic happen.

Got everything you need to get started? Or want to?

A copywriting project doesn’t start with words. It starts with your business goals. 

Step one: get your thoughts in order with your free website planner.

You’ll get access to a Google Doc that you can save to your own drive and start working on right away.

Get clear on your goals. Get optimized. Get going.

Questions? hello@kelleygardiner.com

—Kelley


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