You can’t fix client supplied copy. Don’t try!

May 1, 2009 •

Whether you’re a copywriter or someone who’s about to hire one, this message is for you: 99% of the time, client supplied copy CANNOT BE FIXED. This video post explains why…

Special Thanks

This was my first HD video post. As I did the whole thing myself, it was a HUGE learning curve. Fortunately for me, I had the help of a very generous expert. Bill Harper (writer, editor, columnist, humorist) is also something of a video specialist. He took pity on me and volunteered easily 4-5 hours instructing and educating me over Skype. Without his help, I don’t know that I’d ever have gotten this far. So thanks Bill.

Also a big thanks to Ian Butler, my ever-brilliant web designer, of MC3 Design, for the overlay at the start with my name, etc.

Please comment…

Let me know your thoughts. Whether you agree or disagree, I’d love to hear it!

Feel free to comment...
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Karen Morris wrote on May 1st, 2009

Totally agree Glenn. When I first started out on my own I would "polish" client copy but would never be satisfied with the results. These days, I guess after building up a reputation for supplying good copy, I would ask clients the same questions you do about what they want to achieve with the copy and suggest a direction appropriate to their goals rather than just rehashing what they've supplied.

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Matt Swan wrote on May 1st, 2009

A great video Glenn! Very useful and informative content & nicely delivered. Just in case Matt Cutts' production team don't come through with the goods I thought I'd offer some low-hanging fruit for the next episode: 1. Use a small preferably carpeted room to minimise echo & background noise 2. Use more than one light source - it adds depth & your moving shadow can be a little distracting behind you. 3. Consider sitting more side-on to your audience - positioning your laptop directly in front of us forms a barrier to the viewer and makes you look like you've something (potentially embarrassing) to hide... 4. By all means gesticulate and illustrate with your hands, but try not to touch your head or face as it can suggest a lack of confidence. 5. Avoid distracting details in the background - the paintings aren't bad but I did find myself trying to see what they were paintings of, and I probably shouldn't have been. All the best mate & thanks again m@

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Donna Spencer wrote on May 1st, 2009

Ahah! Now I understand where you are coming from. The title surprised me as I do use client-supplied content. But I probably use it more to inform me about the topic, then do as you suggest.

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Angus Gordon wrote on May 1st, 2009

Great video Glenn. It will definitely make me think about the way I work with client-supplied copy. To be honest, I often say "yeah, sure, I'll just give this a bit of a polish" and then end up completely rewriting it...

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Deborah wrote on May 1st, 2009

Great advice, and helpful tips Glenn! I'm always amazed at the client-supplied copy I receive, with the request that I just "modify" the copy so it "sounds good". Thanks!

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Rebecca Leigh wrote on May 1st, 2009

Congrats on your video - it's looking good! Now you might get some skype calls asking for help :) Very solid points re: editing vs. rewriting. Often what happens is a start from scratch job at editing prices which is very frustrating! My process is to have a consultation before they draft. Or if they have existing copy I will review, have a consultation, and then invite them to redraft before I edit. It goes some way to ensuring I have something substantial to work with in the edit process. Thanks for the very useful blog and videos!

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Linda Suttie wrote on July 22nd, 2009

Thank you Glenn! I am NEVER comfortable rewriting client copy. I agree with Donna Spencer - it's great for background info but rarely does it look like what the finished copy should be. There is always the danger too that the client is attached to their copy and get quite miffed when you completely ovrhaul it. In fact if a client offers to write something I always just ask for bullet pointed copy - so much easier and it doesn't waste their time or mine. I'm a freelance copywriter based on the beautiful Mornington Peninsula in Victoria - and have only just discovered your blog - so thanks Glenn, I will definately be a regular visitor to your blogs.

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Glenn Murray wrote on July 24th, 2009

Thanks Linda. I tend to prefer bullet points too!

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Karri Flatla wrote on September 10th, 2009

What always slays me is the odd client who feels compelled to go in an edit what you've written. Then send it back to you and ask what you think. New copywriter joke: How many writers does it take to edit client copy? Answer: None. Client copy can't be edited ;) (Sorry. Couldn't resist.) But seriously, love your video and your take on client-supplied copy. Adding this nugget of wisdom to my toolbox ... my quoting toolbox! Thanks Glenn. PS: Your video also confirms that you really do bear eerie resemblance to the dude in the stock photo on my web header. So strange ... Karri

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Louise Desmarais wrote on September 11th, 2009

Good job Glenn! "Polish it up" - oh yeah, heard that one. How about this one? "Can you work your magic?" When I hear that, I generally do a complete rewrite. If there are specs that the client wants in, I will try to find another home for them. A shaded box with bullets off to the side, for example. And I don't have one price for editing and another for copywriting. We've already established that the line between the two is blurry. One price fits all. If the client has supplied me with a good working draft, it takes less time and that's where the savings come in.

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