Skip the time-consuming back-and-forth by learning how to give better copywriting feedback.
What’s the big deal about giving good feedback?
There’s just something about having to give feedback for writing that makes us inherently uncomfortable. Some want to avoid potential conflict. Some worry about being disliked. Others simply don’t know how to properly critique work and then present their feedback, which leads to feelings of unease.
But, as you can imagine, there’s effective feedback and then there’s not-so-constructive criticism. Clearly, the former yields better all-around results than the latter.
When you give good feedback:
✅ You save time by minimizing the need for follow-ups from your copywriter.
✅ Positive criticism helps the copywriter understand your expectations—and then make the corresponding changes.
✅ Both sides experience less (possibly no) frustration.
So, how do you know if you’re giving good feedback? And how to give written feedback? To answer those questions, you must first know the difference between good and bad feedback.
What is good feedback?
Good feedback is effective feedback: It’s clear, it’s concise, it’s constructive, and it’s well-organized. In other words, your copywriter can easily understand and use your comments during the copy editing process.
💡 Tip: The best copywriting feedback comes from having open and honest conversations with your copywriter.
What is bad feedback?
Bad feedback is opaque or unclear, forcing your copywriter to spend copious amounts of time trying to decipher your comments—you expect your freelancer to read your mind.
Bad feedback is when you nitpick. You’re being critical for the sake of being critical, so you can “get your money’s worth”.
Finally, it’s commentary that makes things personal. You criticize the writer, not the copy.
💡 Tip: “Bad feedback” refers to the quality of your comments. It’s NOT the same as negative feedback, which is when you communicate information, observations, or thoughts that the copywriter can use to revise your copy.
How to provide feedback to your copywriter
Before you fire off that copywriting feedback email, I encourage you to read through this step-by-step guide on how to give constructive criticism. I’ve included a few extra tips that cover the best ways to give feedback.
Step #1: Read your copy
The first step is the easiest. All you have to do is read your copy. That’s right – you don’t have to analyze anything yet. Just take it all in; absorb what you’ve read.
Now ask yourself: How did the text make you feel? What was your first impression?
➡️ If you loved what you read, great! That ends the feedback loop.
➡️ If you felt something was missing or not quite right, move to step #2.
Step #2: Analyze your copy
Since you weren’t fully satisfied with what your copywriter delivered, it’s time to figure out why you feel that way.
Re-read your copy and use these questions to help you pinpoint problem areas.
- Is the information factual and accurate?
- Is it complete?
- Does the copy flow in a smooth and logical manner?
- Did the copywriter capture the sentiment or emotions you were going for?
- Are you happy with the tone and voice?
- If you already have brand voice guidelines, did the copywriter nail your requirements?
- Does the copy inspire you to take action?
Your answers should pave the way for turning your thoughts into copywriting feedback.
💡 Tip: Highlighting sections you want revised is not enough for your copywriter to work with. Tell your copywriter why you’re not happy with those areas. Without your explanation, the copywriter is forced to make assumptions or guess what you’re thinking.
Step #3: Organize your copywriting feedback
Heads up: Disorganized notes are a major waste of time.
If your thoughts are jumbled or you jump from one topic or section to another and then back again, there’s a higher chance of confusion. You’re just adding an extra round of follow-ups to clarify key points.
So, whether you’re sending your thoughts out in an email; adding comments directly to the Word document; or sending a separate file with questions and suggestions—gather all your notes in one place and then arrange these in a logical manner.
💡 Tip: Collate similar points, covering one theme (e.g. brand voice) at a time.
Step #4: Include examples
Sometimes, the easiest way to show your copywriter what you want or really like is to share examples. Got a competitor whose copy inspires you? Include a link for your copywriter! Have existing marketing assets that you’re particularly proud of? Attach a copy for your copywriter to refer to. But if you do include examples, don’t forget to explain what specifically you like about it.
Step #5: Get on a call with your copywriter
Written feedback is the gold standard. But there are occasions when email just won’t cut it. For example: You’re better at communicating your thoughts verbally. Or maybe you want to go into greater detail about something. In such scenarios, don’t be shy about requesting to get on a call with your copywriter.
With all that said and done, a lot of work goes into filling a blank page with words that move people. While copywriters can’t wait to hear what you have to say, sending out what we’ve written for your review will always be equally exciting and daunting. (Surprise! We have feelings. 😆) So, perhaps the most important tip I can give you is to always maintain an environment of respect. Remember that you’re both professionals in your respective fields, and at the end of the day, your copywriter has your best interests at heart.