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How to sell copywriting in your design projects

Why you need it, and how to get it over the line

Here’s an undeniable, well-researched fact: copywriting moves the needle more for your clients than design.

Need proof?

The estimated impact of copy and design on conversion rate.
Source: Unbounce

Here’s another undeniable, yet less-researched fact: very few clients want to pay for copywriting. In fact, given the chance, they’d rather slice the copywriting portion from your project fees and proceed to write the copy on their own.

This is almost always a really, really bad idea.

What happens when clients handle their own copy?

Unless they have a writer or marketer on their team, the job will usually be handballed over to a poor junior with a to-do list the length of their arm. You’ll receive the finalised copy in dribs and drabs as the junior finds pockets of their day to complete the job. And, at the end of the project, the key decision makers will take a look at the copy, usually for the first time, and tell you that it’s all wrong and needs to be rewritten.

Queue: the project (and your final payment) being held up for another few months. Maybe even years.

Nightmare.

What happens when your (non-writing) team handles the copy?

At this point, you’ll usually take matters into your own hands. After all, you want to get this nightmare of a project signed off.

So, you handball the writing over to someone on your team. A marketing grad with a little extra time up their sleeves. An overworked account manager with a Chat GPT login.

The copy turns out better than when the client was handling it. But it’s not… great. You notice a lot of telltale signs that Chat GPT was involved. Overuse of the word ‘elevate’. Clunky sentences that say the same thing over and over.

But! It’ll do the job, so you shoot it over to the client and close the project. It’s probably not going to be featured on your portfolio. It’s definitely not going to win any awards. The extra work ate away all of your margins and caused your account manager to have a small breakdown in the lunchroom.

Another nightmare.

What happens when a professional copywriter handles the copy?

The sun comes out. Angels sing. Dolphins and swans return to the Venice channels. And best of all? You don’t have to deal with the copywriting process at all. 

The copy isn’t just good. It’s great. If something looks or feels a little clunky, or doesn’t match your creative vision, you can get the copywriter to just… fix it up.

You’ll probably be able to nominate the project for an award. You’ll definitely put it in your portfolio. And you’ll almost certainly wrap up the entire thing on time.

Life is good.

There’s just one problem: you need to get your clients to hire a professional writer for the project. And they don’t really see the value in copywriting. After all — everyone can write, right?

So, how do you sell your clients on copywriting?

We currently partner with over 20 Australian creative agencies that sell our services in different ways. Here are three ways we’ve seen them sell copywriting (with a healthy markup), ranked from good to best.

Good: include copywriting as an optional line item in every proposal (even if the client doesn’t request it)

This is the approach that most of our copywriting partners take. From websites to billboards, brochures to campaigns, our clients include copy as an additional extra in every single proposal. Even the quick jobs.

It’s a win-win for the studio, because it makes it abundantly clear that copywriting is not included in the design phase of the project. It also gives the clients a good idea of how much they’ll need to budget for in the likely event that they can’t write the copy themselves — no nasty surprises later on down the track.

Better: including copywriting in the total project fee

Some of our clients simply include our costs in their total project fee and list copywriting as an inclusion. It makes professional copywriting a non-negotiable, as it’s simply part of the process. These clients usually refuse to take on most projects without a professional copywriter on board because they know that it’ll cause more trouble than the project is worth to try and extract copy directly from the client.

Best: including copywriters in the discovery phase of the project

Our favourite clients bring us in right from the start of every project. We’re part of the furniture. And we love it. We get to hear the client out, discover what their challenges are, and create a plan that will solve those challenges — through design and copy. These projects usually run smoothly, give clients a fantastic result and give studios an end product they’re proud to feature on their portfolios. In short, the work is great.

Get a team of copywriters on your side

Ready to start including copywriting in every design project? We’d love to chat.

As a team of white label copywriters, we can slide in and out of your projects with ease. We act on your behalf (we’ll even wear your team shirts!) and work with your designers to create a fantastic end product. Sound good?

Talk to Heydays HQ. 🔥