20 Questions to Ask Yourself about Copy before Starting a Project

As a business owner preparing for a project on your website can be a long process that is difficult to organize. Even as a writer it is easy to be overwhelmed at the beginning of a new project. To help overcome any potential problems it is very important to solidify the details of the project before the writing can start. Having these twenty questions clearly answered can make writing projects much easier for all involved.

Courtesy of Flickr.com user Milos Milosevic

Courtesy of Flickr.com user Milos Milosevic

What is the Project?

Is the project a small update to reflect a new season, is it starting a new blog to appeal to a new audience, or is it a full site upgrade? Without this information clearly stated it is impossible to accurately plan the rest of the project.

Why Create Content?

Once you decide what the project is it is important to know the reason for starting that project. Are there some pages that are outdated, poorly written, not SEO optimized, or is it something else? Knowing why a new project is being started makes sure that all the appropriate changes are made to what doesn’t work and what is working is left alone.

Is the Content Going to be Reused?

Is the content going to only be used once or will it be used again and again? Content that is intended to be reused will use evergreen phrases that will maintain their meaning for years to come.

Who is the Target Audience?

Your writers will need to know this information before they can start writing quality content for your project. Content that is written without a clear audience sounds too general and won’t give you any lasting connection with your audience.

What Need Does the Content Address?

Once you identify who the content is trying to reach you can increase your connection with them by finding a specific need or two that your company can fulfil. Knowing the needs that are being addressed means that writers can craft their content around that need.

Will There Be Any Other Requirements Beyond Writing?

A large project will have many requirements beyond writing, such as new graphic designs and videos. Having these other requirements outlined early on will eliminate a lot of last minute confusion when attempting to bring all the separate pieces together into one cohesive whole.

How Many Hours Will the Project Take?

As a project progresses the answer to this question will change but knowing this information will help to determine approximate times and dates for when the content will be ready for customers to see.

What is the Budget?

This is important to discuss especially if external writers are going to be used.

What is the Tone or Style of the Piece?

Is your company an authority who is providing information to your readers? Or are you trying to start a conversation with your customers by asking them questions throughout your content.

Does the Content Need to be SEO Optimized?

Any content that is intended to attract the attention of search engines needs to be SEO optimized. More questions will come up when deciding what keywords to use and how to provide quality content that both meets the clients’ needs as well attracting search engine algorithms.

Word Count?

Do you need short descriptions to improve SEO rankings? Or do you need longer form blog posts intended to impart information to your readers? Good word count estimates will make sure that you won’t have content that won’t be used.

What are the Guidelines the Writer Should Follow?

Are there unique services that only your company provides? Are there words or phrases that should be avoided? Understanding what should be emphasized and what should be played down can only help your writers provide you with better content.

How Many People Will be Involved? Who of Those People Have Final Approval?

Even the most collaborative projects have one individual who can give the final approval. Knowing who this person is early in the project will prevent any confusion about who has the final say on the content.

Who Comes Up with the Topics?

Do the writers have the freedom to decide what topic to write about, or will topics be provided to them? Even if you decide on a combination of the two sides a writer will be happy to know exactly what is expected of them.

Do Any Drafts Have to be Seen?

Is content expected to be seen in a rough form as well as in a finished form? Rough drafts can help ensure that all the content has the same tone but it also can increase the amount of time a project takes to finish.

What is the Rewrite Process?

No matter if drafts are expected there are always revisions to be done. The rewrite process can become confusing if it isn’t clearly outlined beforehand.

What is the Timeline? And what happens if the deadline isn’t met?

While the final deadline may be decided earlier there are many smaller deadlines that need to be met in order to meet the final deadline. Deciding the consequences of any missed deadline allows everyone to know when work is due and what will happen if it is late.

Can earlier content be reused?

When content is simply being updated, keeping the older content is useful to show what topics should be discussed on that page. Poorly written content can become a good example of what not to write.

Any Specific Sources to Cite? If Interviews are Involved, Who Finds the Subjects to Interview?

Does your company have a close relationship with another company that should be reflected in the content? Letting writers know which sources to cite before work begins makes the writing process much easier because the writers will only use approved sources.

How will Success be Measured?

Once a project is finished what determines if the project was successful or not? Success can be measured by an increase in the number of visits to or an improvement in search engine rankings. By determining how to measure the success of the project you can decide which analytic tools to use to track the success.


These 20 questions will help you overcome many of the common problems that come up in every copywriting project.




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Filed under Content, Project Management, Proposals, Time Management, Writing Resources

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