Copywriter Central
Copywriter Central’s Project Primer — Best Practices for Scoping and Posting Projects
Here are some guidelines to help you define and describe your project so that you can land the right writer and manage your project to success.

Project Descriptions: Share the right details and you’ll find the right writer

The urgency of major content projects can lead to cryptic or excessively brief project descriptions that don’t effectively communicate what a writer needs to know about your project. In contrast to less experienced writers who may bite at any work, seasoned writers carefully choose their projects based on the information provided by a client at the start. So attracting the right talent requires a project description that radiates organization, attention to detail, and clear goals.

Scope Creep: Don’t Let It Happen to You!

Nobody wants their scope to creep, but it happens even in the largest companies. When scope creeps, it’s usually because requirements and expectations weren’t spelled out effectively at the start (or happens when the project changes shape during the development process). Writers can be put in a bad spot if they think they’re bidding on a project the size of a bread box (and negotiate a rate accordingly), and it can put you in a bad spot if you’ve allocated a set budget only to have the project costs soar.

One of the best ways to avoid scope creep is to follow the wise advice of Bob Vila of the PBS series This Old House—“Measure twice, cut once.” In other words, do your best to accurately scope your project and share that information in your project description, so your writer can effectively estimate the cost and stay within your budget.

The Project Roadmap: Define Your Route

Regardless of its type, every project takes shape around these considerations—if you’ve got this information, share it with your writer:

  • How Many / How Long?
    • How many pages of your website, collateral, white paper, etc. is your writer producing?
    • How long will each page or piece be? If you don’t know the word count, share similar pieces with the writer so he or she has a model for estimating length.
  • Target Audience(s)
    • Do you have a written customer persona for your target audience?
    • How granular is your customer persona?
  • Appropriate Tone / Voice
    • Have you identified a brand tone or voice that resonates with your target audience?
    • Can you share anything about your brand voice and style? (Is it friendly? technical? authoritative?)
  • Desired CTA(s) and Outcome(s)
    • Have you planned specific calls to action and outcomes or success measurements for your project?
    • Have you mapped out how the content will serve these CTAs and outcomes?
  • Milestones and Deadlines
    • Have you identified milestones in the process to review the pace and quality of the work?
    • Have you distinguished your hard deadlines from your soft ones? Make sure your writer understands both for effective planning.
  • Revision(s)
    • How many rounds of revisions and / or feedback does your timeline and budget allow for? Keep in mind that the writer will need to write an initial draft, and the two of you will probably need to collaborate on at least 1 to 2 revision rounds to achieve your desired content.
    • Have you identified a point-person to gather stakeholders’ responses on your end and distill them for the writer?

Now, Get Specific

Once you’ve mapped out the project basics, focus in on the specifics of your project type.

  • Website Content:
    • How many pages do you need written from scratch, rewritten, or edited?
    • Will the amount of content in the rewrite increase or decrease?
    • Which pages have priority during the rewrite process?
    • How much research will the writer need to do in order to write knowledgeably about your product(s) or service(s)?
    • Will the writer need to communicate or collaborate closely with others (such as designers) in order to complete the project?
    • Can you share page mockups or wireframes with your writer?
  • Blog Post(s):
    • How many blog posts will you need?
    • How long does the post need to be? (Most blog posts are 350–450 words)
    • Will the writer need to match the tone or voice of previous blog posts, or ghost-write the blog post for someone in your organization?
    • Will the writer need to independently research the topic or will you provide research materials?
    • Will the writer need to conduct interviews for the blog post(s)? If so, will you provide contact information, or will the writer have to reach out independently?
    • Does your writer need industry-specific knowledge to write the blog post(s)?
    • How many revisions does your budget allow? Content that really hits its mark is usually refined over the course of several revisions.
  • Marketing Content (Case Studies, White Papers, Brochures, Sell-sheets, etc.):
    • How long will this content need to be? Will it have sidebars, pull-quotes or other content call-outs the writer will need to create as part of the content? Please, provide examples of pieces you like from other brands or your own.
    • Do you have a design template for the layout that shows what the content will look like when final? This can help your writer organize the content effectively.
    • Will the writer need to research this topic or interview stakeholders? If so, will you suggest background material and people to interview?
    • For case studies, will you have customers lined up and ready to participate?
    • Will you need the writer to collaborate with your designers? If so, be sure to add some hours for that component.