When you pay a writer to work with you what is your money buying? The obvious answer to that question is ‘words’, isn’t it?
And that’s right – up to a point. It’s the text that matters, but you’re actually buying more than words on a page. If words are a simple commodity, head for a content mill.
The value that you’re actually buying from a professional is creativity, and most of that what happens when your writer’s fingers aren’t hovering over a keyboard. Copywriting guru Tiffany Markman reckons that she spends less than half of the time she gives a client on writing; the lion’s share is given over to making sure she gets the writing bit right.
Possibly the most important non-writing activity is listening. Clients often don’t know what they want, or can’t articulate it. Many are too close to their business, product or project to see it as clearly as they should do.
They are also busy, which means a writer’s brief is often much too brief (‘you know, just do what you usually do… I haven’t had a moment to think about it…’) That’s why it’s the writer’s job to ask questions. And to be all ears.