6 Steps for Recognizing Good Copy When You’re Working with a Copywriter

6 steps for recognizing good copywritingHave you ever hired a freelancer or worked with an agency and wondered if you were getting your money’s worth?

Hire a gardener, and you can tell if the flowers grow. Hire a carpenter and you’ll know if the shelves are solid.

But when you hire an artist, like a copywriter or a graphic designer, judging the results can be more challenging. How can you tell if you’re getting good, creative content as soon as the first draft?

Copywriting is one of those amazing occupations that straddles (or dances across) the line between art and science.

Writing well is an art, there’s no question about it. Crafting words that evoke emotions, stir passions, and convert into actions is a sought-after skill.

But copywriting is also a science, to some extent. There are strategies, concepts, and “rules” that experienced copywriters follow because they’ve been proven time and time again to work—to get the reader to take action.

Of course, some “rules” are made to be broken. Sometimes doing so even helps you stand out in a crowded field. However, you won’t know unless you test them.

But before you get to that point, it’s useful for you to know some of the basics. Doing so will help you recognize what to pay attention to when a first draft of content is submitted to you for your review.

Here are 6 questions that you can ask yourself the next time you’re evaluating copy:

1. Does the copy present ideas clearly? Does it demonstrate an understanding of your customers’ problem(s) and the solution(s) you offer to help them? Good copy will have your readers saying “yes, that’s me, I want what they have to offer.”

2. Does the headline make you want to read more? The purpose of the headline is to pique your interest and get you to read the first sentence.

3. Is the copy easy to read? To judge if it sounds natural, try reading it out loud. Are you using any jargon your customers/prospects may be unfamiliar with? Speak to your audience in terms they understand.

4. Does the copy flow easily and transition from one point to the next smoothly and in a logical sequence?

5. Does the copy ask you to take a specific action and tell you why it’s important for you to do so? Active language propels the copy forward and not only keeps your readers engaged, but makes it more likely for them to take action themselves.

6. Does the copy make a compelling case? Does it make you want to take the action you want your reader to take? Again, try reading it to a partner and gauge their response if you feel too close to the subject.

The easier it is for you to say “yes” to these questions, the better your copy will be.

Once you’ve evaluated your copy using these questions, you can also communicate more effectively with your copywriter about changes you want to make. Being specific and telling her that you’d like more active language is much easier for her to grasp than something like, “It needs more oomph!

What questions do you have about working with a copywriter? Please share them in the comment section below because I’d love to hear from you. Thanks and here’s to your sweet success!

Debra Jason

Marketing & writing with heart, not hype at at The Write Direction
A recipient of the “Creative Person of the Year” award, Debra educates and empowers creative solopreneurs and enthusiastic business owners to create a lifestyle business that provides them with the flexibility, fun and freedom to do what they love. She also inspires you to communicate your marketing message in a way that captivates and converts your prospects into loyal, raving fans - even if you have been struggling with how to transform your ideas into words in the past.


  1. Thank you for the tips. I have never had the opportunity to work with a copywriter. These sound like some very clear questions to ask yourself. Anything that helps communication and helps the progress of things is worth investing your time.
    ~ Jodene
    Jodene recently posted…Guidelines to Successful Goal SettingMy Profile

    • Jodene, marketing is an essential component of being in business. And, you can’t market without words. Knowing what to look for when working with a copywriter (or writing the copy yourself) will you help you get your message out there successfully. Glad you’ll keep these pointers in mind for the future.
      Thanks. Here’s to your sweet success.

  2. I’ve been studying copy writing off and on for years. Didn’t start really working in it until last year. I took some notes and look forward to more on the topic.

    Brian McDaniel recently posted…Marquel Russell Interviewed – MLM Prospecting Tips By Marquel RussellMy Profile

    • Good luck on developing your writing skills Brian. Take a look at the “copywriting” category here on the Blog and you’ll find many posts on the topic.
      Here’s to your sweet success.

  3. I like this, Debra! Does the copy inspire/compel me to DO something, or does it blend into the woodwork? Great stuff to consider. Thanks!
    Larry Hochman recently posted…Food Lust, Alcohol Adventures, Fun PeepsMy Profile

  4. Great tips Debra, thank you!
    elizabeth708 recently posted…50 States Cookbook – Sailing – Sail Away GirlMy Profile

  5. Wonderful advice Debra! Thank you for always giving us useful tips to improve our writing skills!
    Belinda Rose recently posted…God’s Grace Is Our Sufficiency In All ThingsMy Profile

  6. Debra,
    Very good tips and suggestions… I feel as though I’m pretty good at writing copy but some of the things you’ve suggested are things I hadn’t thought about, especially steps 5 and 6. Thanks for sharing!

    • It’s good to feel confident about your skills Kelly. And, I’m glad to have inspired you with a few new pointers to help you enhance those skills in the future.
      Thanks for commenting.

  7. Hi Debra,
    You present some excellent guidelines here and, although “copy” could refer to many things, I think if everyone would apply these principles to their business blogs they would start to see significantly more bang for their buck with regard to opt-in rates, repeat visitors, etc.
    DeAnna Dimmitt recently posted…Sleep, The Wonder Drug Part 3: The Effect Of Sleep On Athletic PerformanceMy Profile

    • Thanks DeAnna. “Copy” is mostly used as a reference to content used in a variety of marketing materials such as blogs, web sites, sales pages, direct mail letters, brochures, etc.

  8. Great article. I normally do my own writing, so I’ll remind myself of these tips when I sit down. I know I need to work on my active verbs! And the advice to read aloud is a good one, even if I hate to do it myself. I think I just have to pretend I’m reading someone else’s work! Thanks for sharing!
    Christine recently posted…What to expect from the Year of the HorseMy Profile

  9. Debra, A very healthy observation, for each of us to look at our own copy, and in turn allow us to re-evaluate our own writing. I would dare say, that most of us in this arena are “our own copywriter” and your post certainly gives us a list of questions to ask ourselves. Thank you for giving me (us) this tangible list, so that we all might improve our own creative juices in this uncertain world of writing. I for one, have learned a great deal in my attempt at creative writing, but I am sure my college professor might have a different view in this judgement. A great post with a clear understanding list.
    John Logan recently posted…What Lies Beyond?My Profile

    • Many people attempt to write their own marketing content and many are good at it. However, there are those that struggle with getting their ideas on paper and therefore, turning to a copywriter helps free them of their struggle (so they have time to the parts of their business they enjoy). Whether writing your own or hiring a copywriter to assist you, it’s always good to know what to look for.
      Plus, a college English professor might even cringe at marketing copy since – every so often – we break the rules of grammar!

      Thanks John.

  10. These are great questions to ask when looking over copy. It can seem nebulous but you’ve made it tangible. I used to be a copywriter but now do it just for myself, so it’s good to be reminded of the aim.
    Tracey recently posted…Cod coconut stew {What is Hari Mirch?}My Profile

  11. Love your post and these are great tips to consider. I think 2,5 and 6 are toughest for me; although I could use help in all these areas. I think it’s important to know what you want to say, what transformation you provide and such before tackling this. I tried doing these things before getting clear about the “what”.
    Tandy Elisala recently posted…3 reasons why family advocacy is a BIG deal: Day 2 of 30 day Family Caregiver SeriesMy Profile

    • Tandy, you bring up good points. It’s important to know who your audience is, what their problems/challenges are and then, how you can help them overcome those challenges. Check out some of the other posts on my blog (in the copywriting category) for tips on headlines and calls-to-action. On March 13th, I’ll be speaking about that on Direct Marketing Day @ Your Desk, a free virtual conference. Find out more about it at http://virtualshow.directmarketingiq.com/agenda/

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