How to art-direct your copywriting
12th January 2023
For marketing managers, who need to get their vision across to their web designers.
For copywriters, who want their clients to understand the bigger picture.
Sometimes, the beautiful idea in your head just doesn't translate to paper or screen.
People misunderstand your vision and even the best of campaigns can fall by the wayside, because you haven't taken them on the journey properly with you.
Art-direct your copywriting. Show your work in-situ and format it in a way that helps your reader – whoever that might be – to understand what you're going for with your writing. You're not a designer, but this is going to help.
As a freelance copywriter, I do this all the time for businesses. Less so for big brands, because they're fancy and you've got less flexibility.
As a marketing manager, I did this even more often, especially for my web designer.
If you’re writing copy for a website, especially a landing page, there are lots of ways to do it. Google Docs has a ‘Pageless Format’ that means you’re not constrained by A4 page cut-offs. You can whack a few tables in there, to show where images are going to go. You could use Figma, or Balsamiq, or any of the free wireframe tools. Landing pages are all about narrative flow and act like a mini buying funnel, channeling attention through the content towards the CTA. That’s what you need to show in-situ.
When you’re doing email marketing, it’s a similar scenario in terms of the flow of attention, but this time it’s easier to show. Use Hubspot or Mailchimp to write up your draft, and screenshot the inbox preview for your client. Always provide an editable doc format for feedback, but always show them what it’ll look like to their readers. You can even preview your work on different screen sizes and OS types.
For leaflets, posters, and general printed formats – templates are your friend. There are plenty in Microsoft Office, or Google Workspace. I like to go one step further and throw it into Canva as a quick mockup. That way, you can easily replicate their existing brand styles and get their colours in too. Humans are visual creatures, even those stranger financiers and coders.
And for social media, where the rules and trends of writing change all the time, you’re fighting the shortest attention span of them all. Use Hootsuite or Buffer to show previews on each platform, on different devices. You’ll be surprised at how often a Tweet will inspire nothing, until they see it standing out amongst the doomscroll. You can even add some fake metrics here, like shares and likes, which might seem like a cheap trick, but my word does it work well.