How to stop copy delays from holding up your website project

Want to hit those deadlines and get paid? Stop waiting on copy.

It’s a common scenario: your client’s signed off on the creative direction, approved the design concepts, and you’re ready to start really digging into the project.

Then you hear those dreaded five words:

“We’re just waiting on copy.”

It’s enough to make any account manager cry.

I’ve worked in and with several agencies over the past decade, and copywriting is almost always the #1 thing blocking your project from going live. And, when a project takes longer than expected, your deadlines blow out, your project loses steam and the entire thing ends up dragging out for far longer than you planned.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Here are our top tips for avoiding the dreaded ‘copy block’ and how your agency can hit your deadlines with ease.

1. Understand why your clients are dragging their feet with copy

In our experience, clients usually undertake a big design project during a growth phase in their business. By going through the branding process, you’ve likely asked them a lot of *uncomfortable* questions, and made them reconsider their positioning, their ideal audience, and, as a result, their messaging.

Early on in their business journey, clients likely found it easy to write about what they do. Now that they’ve grown, they’re less sure how to accurately represent their company through words. With this uncertainty comes procrastination.

Not only that, most people feel like writing *should be* an easy task. We’ve all passed Year 10 English, and we’re all fairly good at stringing a sentence together. However, there’s a difference between being able to write, and being able to write — as in, write persuasively, effortlessly and using the company’s brand voice.

Finally, many companies have multiple stakeholders with different ideas about how their copy should read, and which information to include on their website. While the Marketing lead may be technically in charge of the project, the company founder and leadership team likely have strong opinions about the project. Away from your catch-ups, they might be engaged in small battles over features and benefits, or how best to sell their services.

All three of these issues can cause huge delays when it comes to getting an approved, polished copy deck handed over to your team and ready for design.

Ultimately, this is a frustrating process for agencies and clients alike. They probably don’t want their project to be delayed — after all, they have big business goals too. So how can you prevent these delays and keep the project on track?

2. Audit your client’s existing copy

It’s true — sometimes the client’s existing copy isn’t too bad. Sure, the most useable elements might be spread across different pages on their website and blog, but there are times when it’s appropriate to piece together messaging from what they’ve already written, apply a few tweaks and move on.

It’s important that you confirm this approach with your clients before you proceed — they might hate their current copy, or feel that it doesn’t accurately represent their current brand. In this case, I’d recommend you…

3. Refer them to a professional copywriter

If your agency doesn’t offer copywriting services, this is a great approach to ensure you get solid copy, delivered by your deadline. Most copywriting agencies and freelancers have clear processes in place to ensure delays don’t happen — or, if they do, the client will be gently nudged to wrap up the project as soon as possible (or face a financial penalty).

This means, your agency will know exactly when to expect the final, polished copy from your client and can therefore plan your project accordingly. If you’re constantly referring work to copywriters, it’s important that you give your clients a heads-up that copywriting is an additional cost to budget for. Even better, if you have a close relationship with a number of freelance writers, it’s a great idea to give them a rough ballpark figure of the costs of hiring a copywriter to save them from any nasty shocks down the line (and ensure you keep your agency/client relationship intact!).

4. Proactively partner with a copywriting agency

If you’re finding that copy delays are a constant issue in your biz, offering an end-to-end service might be the perfect solution. Rather than sending your clients to an external writer, or (worse) relying on them to write the copy themselves, many agencies are instead working copywriting into their project quotes.

If you don’t have professional writers on staff, partnering with a copywriting agency is a fantastic option for presenting clients with an end-to-end service. Most copy agencies will provide you with the option to white label their services (operating as members of your agency) or co-branding with you so you present as a cohesive team. Whatever your approach, it’s important that you vet the agency early to ensure:

  • You’re happy with their pricing
  • They’ll take your agency’s lead and make you look great
  • They have the writing chops to deliver an exemplary service.

5. Refine your processes

Whether you tweak your client’s existing content, hire an external writer or partner with a copywriting agency, the most important thing to get right is your processes.

When you’re writing your project plan, it’s important that finalised copy is a critical milestone before design, rather than an afterthought once design and development are complete. There’s nothing worse than jamming mismatched copy into an already complete design, or worse, a developed, ready-to-publish site.

Ready to call in a copywriting team?

Struggling to find the words to keep your website projects on track? Our copywriting agency can help! We’ve worked with agencies to write copy that boosts brands and prompts their clients to take action.

If you’d like to chat more about how you can decrease copy delays, we’d love to hear from you. Chat with the Heydays Creative team today!