And how can they help transform your copywriting business?

If you’re a copywriter, you’ve probably heard of the term Copy deck before, but you might not be 100% sure what it is.

In this episode, we answer ALL your copy deck questions and explain how this one document could transform your copywriting business.

Tune in to learn:

  • What is a copy deck
  • Why you should use a copy deck
  • What Kate and Belinda include in their copy decks
  • How should you create your copy deck
  • Should you include layout and design ideas
  • How to take the client through your copy deck
  • How many versions you should expect to write
  • When does the copy deck officially belong to the client?

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Kate Toon:                              If you’re a copywriter, you’ve probably heard of the term copy deck before but you may not be 100% what it is. So in this episode, Belinda and I are going to answer all your copy deck questions and explain how this one document could transform your copywriting business.

Kate Toon:                              Hello and welcome to the Hot Copy Podcast, a podcast for copywriters, all about copywriting. My name is Kate Toon, I’m a copywriter, the founder of the Clever Copywriting School, which is an online hub with all things copywriting with courses, jobs or community and more. And with me, is my de-lovely cohost, Belinda Weaver.

Belinda Weaver:                  Hello everyone. Yes, my name is Belinda Weaver. I am also a copywriter, my business is Copywrite Matters and that’s where I have also courses and coaching and lots of content to help you become a better copywriter.

Kate Toon:                              Well, today we’re going to talk about copywriting but we’re going to talk about something else first ’cause it’s rather exciting. You won’t obviously be able to see this ’cause you’re listening with your ears but I am now officially a ginger. You might have noticed that for a long time, Belinda has held the ginger crown but now I’ve dyed my hair ginger too. What do you think of it Belinda?

Belinda Weaver:                  I think I am onboard the ginge, welcome. I am officially, on behalf of the ginger community Kate, welcome.

Kate Toon:                              Thank you. Now, the only problem is that I do hear that ginger people don’t have souls. That’s something I’ve heard before.

Belinda Weaver:                  That is absolutely correct and you will get that outlined in the pack that will be sent to you.

Kate Toon:                              Oh, I get a pack? Fantastic, ’cause I was wondering how to handle my new ginger life and I’m glad there’s a support network out there for me.

Belinda Weaver:                  Absolutely is. You also get a bonus bottle of 1000 SPF sunscreen, which you have to wear all the time.

Kate Toon:                              And instructions like never wear green and things like that. Is that a thing?

Belinda Weaver:                  Pink is the colour.

Kate Toon:                              Pink, okay. See, I would have made that mistake if you hadn’t told me so I’m really grateful.

Belinda Weaver:                  Thank goodness for guide books.

Kate Toon:                              Ah, thank gosh. Did you copyright it?

Belinda Weaver:                  Maybe.

Kate Toon:                              Did the ginger community get you to do it? Anyway, let’s move on. And if we were to write a guide book for ginger people, we would probably use something called a copy deck. [crosstalk 00:03:08]

Belinda Weaver:                  Segue.

Kate Toon:                              Segue of all segues. I get a point. So copy deck is something that Belinda and I could talk about in our sleep. And right now, I could actually do with a nap but instead of sleeping, we’re going to take you through what copy decks are, how you can use them in your business, what’s included in them and really what a great asset they are and a great way to present your work to a client in a more professional way. So I’m going to take the first question, we’re going to do this kind of Q&A style but we’re asking ourselves the questions. There you go, go figure.

Kate Toon:                              What is a copy deck? So, a copy deck is a single document usually written in Microsoft Word but we’re going to talk about different formats later on in the episode. And this single document, contains all the necessary bits and blurbs for a given copyright project. The term copy deck is often used in ad agencies. It’s also sometimes referred to as a copy platform. So there you go, your question next Belinda.

Belinda Weaver:                  The next question we always get asked is why use a copy deck and the whole idea of using a copy deck. And as Kate just said, this is the document that you present your copy in to the client. The whole point of creating a professional looking copy deck is to make it the single point of reference for everyone working on the project. More often than not, when you hand your copy over to a client, it might get passed around to different people. So it’s really important that you have all the information in one place so everyone can get onboard with the project. It provides a template for all the pages and it often provides guidelines on things like tone and structure and consistency.

Belinda Weaver:                  And these things are useful as I said, because you want to remind your client about all the things you talked about maybe in the copywriting brief to around these things, tone and structure and consistency. And it’s an opportunity to kind of show off your expertise a little bit because everything’s there and you’re demonstrating your knowledge and expertise. It’s really easy for anyone to pick it up and get up to speed with what the copywriting project’s about and what they need to know in order to read the copy. That’s right, you need to know stuff in order to read copy.

Kate Toon:                              So I’m going to take us to the next question, which is what does a copy deck include? Now, plug, I sell my copyright templates in the Clever Copywriting School. It’s my most popular template. I think I’ve probably sold over 1,000 copies of it to copywriters all over the world. And Belinda has her own copy deck which comes with her fabulous writing course plug which launches again soon so check that out.

Kate Toon:                              So our formats are slightly different but I think it’s worth talking about what they include and why they’re different ’cause probably we should have, at some point, bloody get them together and make one uber copy deck and maybe we can talk about that after this.

Belinda Weaver:                  But then we would be one person then.

Kate Toon:                              Yeah. Well, we are. I’m already ginger. It’s happening. I’m morphing into you. Yeah, it’s happening. Okay, so I’m sure every writer uses a slight different format but this is mine. So first up I have a title page. And on my title page, I have all the project details including a list of contact details for those involved in the project, a diversioning channel that shows the date of each version of the deck. I also have my branding on there, the client name. And in the footer, I have copyright Kate Toon copywriter because it’s my document at this stage, it does not belong to the clients. And we’re going to talk about when we hand over the document and when it belongs to the client later on in the episode.

Kate Toon:                              So that’s my title page. Then I have my contents page, which is a simple table of contents, which lets the users quickly jump to the relevant piece of content. Your standard table of contents. Makes sense? Yeah. Then I have my copy format guidelines and that my guidelines are quite expensive and they cover things like how should the brand be referred to? Can it be abbreviated? I’m going to stop. I can hear every click and [crosstalk 00:07:10]

Belinda Weaver:                  Oh my god, I’m sorry.

Kate Toon:                              That’s why I kept enduring.

Belinda Weaver:                  Oh sorry, okay.

Kate Toon:                              Okay. I mean, you can split the tracks but I just don’t want ’em to have to split the whole thing.

Belinda Weaver:                  I have the noisiest keyboard in the world.

Kate Toon:                              Yeah. It’s [crosstalk 00:07:23] but I’ll go from copy format guidelines, okay?

Belinda Weaver:                  Yeah.

Kate Toon:                              So then I have my copy format guidelines. They’re like tone of voice guidelines that sit at the star of all my templates that I use. And mine are quite extensive and they cover things like how should the brand be referred to? Can it be abbreviated? Are we going to use fullstops at the end of headlines and subheaders? Should we be using title case, sentence case for the navigation of other elements? How should bold, italics and underline be used in the copy? How are we going to use price? All that kind of stuff.

Kate Toon:                              And then after my copy format guidelines, I have tone guidelines so this has been taken from the brief. How should the copy sound? Should it be chatty, authoritative, formal, confident? Now, I always have a whole separate tone of voice template that you can get from the shop. That’s a huge piece that you would probably charge a client separately for. In fact, it’s a great little thing that you can sell to a client and say, “Let’s get the tone of voice guidelines done before we start the copy deck.” We can talk about that. I think we’ve talked about that in a previous episode, maybe, maybe we haven’t, maybe we will.

Kate Toon:                              Then I might include some SEO keyword phrases. Usually, on the individual pages. So whether I’ve done the keyword research myself or the client has provided them, what keywords are we going to use for each page within the copy deck? If I’ve written the tagline, again, that would be a separate piece of work for me. I might have to add my tagline in there. And then I start off with what I call common elements. So before I even get to the pages, I detail out what’s going to be in the header of the website, say we’re talking about a website. What’s going to be in the navigation, what’s going to be in the footer, what’s going to be in the sidebar? Anything that’s common to all the pages, anything that’s going to be repeated. I write it all out once. And that means that’s set and the client knows that on every page of the site, the footer is going to look like this.

Kate Toon:                              Then I move into the individual pages. So first page, homepage. What is on the homepage? And in my copy deck template, I kind of list out, this is the title tag, this is the meta description, this is the breadcrumb, this is the word count, this is the headline, this is the subheader, this is the intro, this is the … Every single thing is broken down. This is a video, this is an image, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Kate Toon:                              And I was going to talk a little bit more about explaining it to the client but I annotate as well so I use Word and I have comments inside about going, “Hey client, this is your headline. I made it like this ’cause I thought it was going to sound really groovy. I hope you like it.” And things like that. So, that’s pretty much it. And I have a page for each page within the site, I have my search results page, I have like my contact thank you page. Every page that is going to be on the site, I have a page for it. Of course, if the client’s paying for all those pages.

Kate Toon:                              So that’s mine. Belinda, how does yours work?

Belinda Weaver:                  Mine is pretty similar actually except … And I’ll probably just really highlight the difference. Mine hasn’t got as much stuff. So I have a title page as well where I’m summarising the project name, the contact detail. I have an introduction kind of letter and this is where my copy deck and my proposal document kind of look quite similar. So I have a little introduction letter and it says, “Thanks for the opportunity to present this copy deck to you. I wanted to run through some of the things that we talked about that cover the scope of the project.” And I might mention some of the key objectives.

Belinda Weaver:                  “You mentioned that you wanted the copy to blah, blah, blah, blah. You highlighted that you wanted the copy to have this tone of voice to match your brand personality words of these.” So I kind of do a-

Kate Toon:                              I really like that because it’s not something that I’ve done. And what I like about it is that often those two documents can be created quite a distance from each other in time. Or often the proposals forgotten so they’re like come to the copy deck and they’re like it’s almost like … You know when you about to watch series two of Westworld and at the beginning they give you a little rerun of what it will be?

Belinda Weaver:                  This is what happened?

Kate Toon:                              Yeah. It’s kind of like, “This is what you told me to do just before you look at it. Remember, you told me to do this, this and …” I like that.

Belinda Weaver:                  Yeah, that’s exactly right. And it’s just reminding them what they told you to do and it’s kind of showing off your expertise. Like, “I have totally got this. This is what you asked me to do and this is what I’m going to do.” And I kind of recap on the scope, this is what we’re going to be looking at together as long as it’s not like 20 million pages. Then on my second page, I have a little about me blurb. Again, I just take it from-

Kate Toon:                              It’s all about you.

Belinda Weaver:                  It is. “Just a reminder, this is why I’m awesome and this is why you chose me.” And it’s not too much but it’s just to kind of remind people of who I am. ‘Cause as we said, in the intro, comes sometimes the copy deck gets passed around to people, and they don’t know who I am so it’s just … I recap on all those kinds of things.

Belinda Weaver:                  And then I don’t have the things like the formatting guidelines and things like that. So that’s where our copy deck really differs. One thing I do have then, is the page. Before I go into the page detail, I have some revisions suggestions. This is how I … Things to look at and I’m like, “Is there any information that’s incorrect? Is there any phrasing that you’re not comfortable with? Does the tone of voice match your brand personality?” And the reason I put these in, is because people come back with this, “You’ve got the comma in the wrong place.” And I’m like, “That is not what you should be looking at in version one.” And part of my revision suggestions as well is, “Here’s a reminder that proofreading is going to happen on the final draught so please forgive any typos for now,” and we talked about that in our very excellent episode on proofreading.

Belinda Weaver:                  And then I cover what happens next. So here’s some tips I’m revising. And then once you have a look at the copy, here’s what you need to do. So the first two pages are an introduction, a bit of a process explanation and some tips on revisions and then I get into the copy itself.

Kate Toon:                              [crosstalk 00:13:37]

Belinda Weaver:                  Yeah. And then for each page, I have the project name, contact name, the version number and a date. Then I have the copy and then I have a section with links. So I have all the links highlighted, underlined in the copy but then I have a separate little table saying, “This is the link and this is where it goes to.”

Belinda Weaver:                  And we’ve talked about this before but if you can make it easy for developers to put your copy into a website, they will love you for it. And that’s how you get good work from developers, is putting your h1 tags labelled. Labelling your h2 tags, putting your meta descriptions in and highlighting links and where they go to.

Belinda Weaver:                  And then I wrap up … Oh go on.

Kate Toon:                              Oh, no. I thought you had wrapped up. You go on.

Belinda Weaver:                  I’m not done. There are more. There’s more. Then I wrap up with a reminder of this is what you need to do next. And I might go into it a bit more detail and just basically recapping on the process.

Kate Toon:                              Interesting. So I put all that stuff about what to look for and the process in the e-mail that the copy deck comes with. So I keep that separate. And I don’t have a what next bit. I do my links contextually so I do Control-K, the link is underlined and click it and it takes you where you need to go.

Belinda Weaver:                  What if the page hasn’t been created yet? [crosstalk 00:14:58]

Kate Toon:                              If the page hasn’t been created yet, I do brackets, linked to page 1.2 so all my pages are numbered ’cause usually I will provide a site map or a site architecture with it. So homepage is 0.0, about page is 1, sub page is about … We should do an episode on site mapping at some point and I’ll take you through my information architecture process. So yeah, I do that. So, linked to 1.7, linked to 2.2 in the brackets.

Kate Toon:                              So yeah, different ways and I think probably a combination of the two would be splendid. But I think it’s very important to say that if you are on Belinda’s course or if you’ve downloaded my template, you should really try and make the copy deck your own.

Belinda Weaver:                  Absolutely.

Kate Toon:                              And obviously you can brand it and you can change that but add your own little touches, make it your own little thing and then that’s your baby that you’ve created. So the next question is with you as well. I’m going to ask you it. How do you create your website copy deck? Do you do it in Word or Google Docs or …

Belinda Weaver:                  I do it in Word. For a little while, I did things in Google Docs and what I found was some of my formatting elements, people would get the Google Docs and it was … I don’t know, Google Drive just wasn’t really as popular I think, or well-used as it is now. And people would try and open the document in Word and the formatting would just be like vomit on the page. So I said, I do mine in Word because a lot of people use Word and I can kind of control how it looks or at least be a bit more confident that when they open it, it’s how I think it’s going to look.

Kate Toon:                              Yeah. I’m the same, I use Word. I know that [Glen Marie 00:16:38] who’s a good friend of the show, is a big fan of Google Docs. And I have got a bit more into it and I’ll add a link to the show notes with a little document where I show you how to version in Google Docs and save, all those stuff. But I agree, I just don’t feel … I know that I have, but I don’t feel like we have the same level of control with Google Docs. Like it feels like, ’cause it’s in the crowd, people can mess about with it. And I agree, the downloading, the turning it into a PDF, the turning it into a Word document, never is quite the same. Some people have accused me of being a bit old school with the Word templates. But the things is most clients, unless you’re working with a cutting edge agency, I find a lot of clients are a bit iffy about Google Docs. They just don’t trust it.

Belinda Weaver:                  Yeah. That’s exactly right.

Kate Toon:                              Do you find that too? Like I mean-

Belinda Weaver:                  It just feels … It’s not new but it feels you and it … And the other thing we didn’t mention is like when I have my revision notes, I have a, “Please track all changes using Track Changes. And here’s a link to a tutorial on how to use Track Changes.” For the love of God, please use Track Changes.

Kate Toon:                              Yeah, print it out and write it in red pen and post it to me.

Belinda Weaver:                  No, I’m candid. I’ll take a photo.

Kate Toon:                              I love that you can track changes with Google and you can add comments but you go into edit mode rather than view mode but I find it a bit more conky and I find the kind of accepting of changes and rejecting of changes much more conky. But I guess it’s just what you’re used to.

Belinda Weaver:                  And what your clients are used to as well. If the clients are happy with it …

Kate Toon:                              That’s the more important thing I think because we’re already making them do something they don’t want to do. We’re already trying to make them understand something that they can’t quite get their head around. The reason they’ve approached you is they don’t know how to write copy, but they don’t really get things like copy decks and stuff like that. We’re going to talk about that in a minute. I think that’s such an important point. Just ’cause you really love Google Docs, it’s like sometimes you have to be like, what’s going to be easier for the client? Sometimes we have to think about the client.

Kate Toon:                              The next question I get asked a lot is should you include layout? So I see a lot of people almost trying to sort of like mark up the page in Word which is a whole world of pain. If you’ve ever tried to use tables and add images and stuff into Word, it’s literally you’ll be able to gin within half an hour ’cause everything goes out wack and the images are wrong and things … So both Belinda and I do include layout suggestions but what we mean by that is what Belinda just touched on. Like this is a h1, this is a h2, this is where a video will go. And like for example, if I’m going to have two columns … Yes, I’ll create a little mini table and put the content in two columns. If I’m going to have a grid of icons, I might do like a little eight, four by four grid and put them in.

Kate Toon:                              But I’ll also handle a lot in the comment. So sometimes I’ll say, “Designer, it’d be great if this could look like this.” And then in the comment, I will take a screenshot of the image of the page that I like and pop it into the comments. But the thing is, all I’m doing with that is try and provide a few hints and tips because a copy deck is not a wireframe. It’s not a wireframe. Wireframes are separate things. And one of the things I talk about a lot in my community is being very distinct about what you’re providing. A copy deck is a [inaudible 00:19:57] piece of work. It’s not keyword research, that’s separate. It’s not a tone of voice documents, that’s separate. It’s not a site map, that’s separate. It’s not a wireframe. All those separate things, are things you can charge a client for.

Kate Toon:                              I didn’t get one of those, just as a given. You can say, “Hey, it’s 2.99.” So I think that makes it clear. Now, again, I know some people will actually … Again, Glen Marie, he’s a big fan of OmniGraffle and I am too. It’s a very popular wireframing tool. He actually writes he’s copy straight into the wireframe and presents it in the wireframe. There’s no copy deck. They just get wireframes. Again, I’d like to do … I think that’s great because you’re literally seeing the page. But for me, and Glen and I have argued about this many times, I really feel that copywriting is a collaborative process and being able to have lots … Word is easier to edit, let’s be clear. And kind of separating form from function at the early stages and getting the words right and then deciding how the words are going to sit on the page, I think there are kind of slightly different steps. I really do.

Belinda Weaver:                  Yeah. And for me, I’m not a website designer. Like I know Glen has that as part of what he does and that I do not. I am not a designer, I can’t visualise the website. If it’s already created, yes I can work with that but for me to create a wireframe, I would spend more time trying to do that and it kind of shoehorns the designer out of the picture a little bit [crosstalk 00:21:32]

Kate Toon:                              I think you’ve got to know your limita … I mean, I build all my own sites and I did a lot of IA when I was at Ogilvy, information architecture, so I am very visual. As I am writing, I’m seeing it on the page and that’s helping me make decisions. Yes, it does cut the designer out of it a little bit. These days I sort of think with websites, design is almost as less of a role because you go straight to your developer and they’re using a template like Divi or [crosstalk 00:22:01] drag and drop. And they’re colouring in basically.

Kate Toon:                              Sorry, no disrespect to any designers ’cause I think designers play a valuable role but I think with website designer, they’re kind of been almost edged out. So that’s a really important point as well. Who is on the team? Like often the clients I am working with, they don’t have a web developer or designer. They are going to be taking this copy and putting it on the website themself. So the more direction I can give them, the better. But if I was working with an agency who’s got a design team, well, I might make a few suggestions about this, this and that. I know full well they’re going to completely ignore them because they’ve got designers and that’s their job.

Kate Toon:                              Again, it depends what you’re being paid for. If I’ve been paid for the IA, if I’m being paid to do the wireframes, I’ll have at it. But if I’m not being paid for that, I might give you a few tips but I’m not going to give you … I’m going to give you some value adds but I’m not going to give away my value. Do you know what I mean?

Belinda Weaver:                  Yeah, absolutely.

Kate Toon:                              That’s the main. Surely that’s the main.

Belinda Weaver:                  That’s exactly the main. I mean, one thing I’ll do is like with the tagging is I might have things like this could be great as a highlight window, this needs to stand out from the page in some way. I used to-

Kate Toon:                              And emphasise this. Yeah, emphasise this blah, blah, blah, blah. And then the designer knows that it’s important but doesn’t feel kind of-

Belinda Weaver:                  Shoehorned.

Kate Toon:                              Yes, exactly.

Belinda Weaver:                  Yeah, that’s exactly right. Another thing that I put in that I didn’t mention ’cause when I have page by page, I have a little section on notes as well and that’s when I kind of say I might do a, “For this page, you mentioned it was important to blah, blah blah, so what I’ve done is I’ve used words like this word and that word because that really ties in with your tone of voice and being authoritative.” So I try and choose moments where I’m trying to explain the choices I’ve made, not only because it makes me look like I know what I’m doing, which I totally do by the way, but it’s a way of reducing the second guessing during the revision cycle.

Kate Toon:                              I do love that. And that segues perfect into the next question which is how to take-

Belinda Weaver:                  To take a client through it.

Kate Toon:                              So you’ve got … You said you were discussing this in your group the other day I think.

Belinda Weaver:                  Yes, it was actually … It wasn’t in my group but it was in another Facebook group and it was someone said, “Well, what’s a copy deck?” And this conversation spring forth on what a copy deck was. And someone popped in and said, “You should talk your client through your copy deck.” And I went, “I agree, mentally.” They then went on to say, “You should read your copy aloud to the client so they have an idea of how it should hear.” And that’s when I went, “mm-mm (negative) totally disagree with that.” Because if you’ve written a 50-page website, the last thing you or your client wants to do is listen to every word being read out.

Belinda Weaver:                  Now, if you have an ad or a flyer, sure, but at the same point, when the client’s customers are reading the copy, no one’s reading it aloud to them. It has to be … People have to be able to read it in their own heads and have it make …

Kate Toon:                              That’s such a good point because yeah, it’s not always you’re going to have audio on your website reading it all out. Does depend if you’ve got a beautiful velvety voice maybe they might enjoy having their copy read to them and …

Belinda Weaver:                  [inaudible 00:25:20]. Otherwise, it’s just me going, noise.

Kate Toon:                              Or easy copy, it’s [inaudible 00:25:25]. All right, piece on page one, I like it. That’s how you sound to me. You don’t though. I’m so mean. But the tip that I always give and Belinda said I was allowed to give this tip is that I make a little Loom video [crosstalk 00:25:43]

Belinda Weaver:                  This is the best tip listeners, the best tip.

Kate Toon:                              It’s the only tip I’ve got, let’s be honest. [inaudible 00:25:49] after this one, it’s my one joke. Do you want to know what my best joke is by the way?

Belinda Weaver:                  Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kate Toon:                              What do you call an Italian with a rubber toe?

Belinda Weaver:                  What?

Kate Toon:                              Roberto. That’s pretty good, isn’t it?

Belinda Weaver:                  That’s a good joke.

Kate Toon:                              It’s good to have that ’cause like when things go wrong, like events and stuff, I’m always capable of jumping on stage and giving that joke and people respect it. Anyway, my tip was Loom, L-O-O-M. It’s a free app that you instal in your browser, on Chrome and what you do is you can record your screen and your audio. You can also, if you want to, record your little head in a circle at the bottom. But if you’re looking ugly, just turn that off. You don’t have to have that. And you know literally what I do is when I send the copy deck to a client with my e-mail, with the bits that Belinda has in her deck, find it in the e-mail, say, “Hey Sue, here’s your copy deck. This is what you need to look out for, here’s some things to think about, it’s not proofread, get over it. Here’s the deck and also, ’cause I love you, I made you a personalised video to just explain this copy deck to you.”

Kate Toon:                              Takes me about five minutes to put a nice personal touch. So I will say something like, “Here’s the deck, this is the index page, these are your tone of voice guidelines. And things to think about here are this, this and this. Okay, here are the common elements, this is what’s going to be in your header. I did your navigation like this because …” And basically, and so on and so forth. Don’t read out every word just give them some pointers and the feedback on that has been great. Because also, what it allows them to do is watch that video in their own time then go through the copy deck in their own time. If you’re going to have to make an appointment to talk them through it, that’s a whole level of pain and-

Belinda Weaver:                  Oh god, yeah.

Kate Toon:                              But they can then watch that in the bath later and enjoy that or wherever they are. I’ve lots of people read my copy in the bath. Belinda, I don’t know why you’re laughing. So yeah, that’s the top Toon tip. It doesn’t get better than that. There you go.

Belinda Weaver:                  Well, and I think the other reason that is genius is your copy deck is a little complicated ’cause [crosstalk 00:27:50]

Kate Toon:                              Yeah, mine, it is complicated and what I’m actually doing is selling that complexity as a selling point and also selling my copy. Because if you read a line of copy and you’re like, “This is a line of copy.” Whereas if you have the copyright you go, “Hey, so this headline, I debated for a couple of hours, came up with five or six different options. I know you wanted this but it didn’t kind of work so this is what I went for. I think it works because of this, this and this.” Well, I’ve just sold them that copy, something that D.P. Knudten said in the last episode that we did with him. The interview with him was, Copy is not bought, copy is sold.

Kate Toon:                              Sending the copy deck, yeah, they’ve paid half the invoice but they are not sold yet and you still need them to pay the other half of the invoice. So you need to present your copy, not only professionally, which is what the copy deck is all about. Like people will say when they get the copy deck, “Wow, this is awesome.” And I’ve seen other copywriters [inaudible 00:28:43] like a ugly Times New Roman clump of copy in a, not even 1.5 spacing Belinda. Can you believe it?

Belinda Weaver:                  That would have flawed you Kate.

Kate Toon:                              She went white then with the horror. It would have done … So it looks professional but that’s not enough. You need to sell it as well to the client so that’s where the loom thing is really great.

Belinda Weaver:                  I remember when I used to … When I very first started out as a copywriter, I showed a mentor the copy that I’ve handed over and I remember her saying, “Is this it?” I was like, “Yes.”

Kate Toon:                              I get that all the time. I get that-

Belinda Weaver:                  But yeah, there was no branding, it was just the copy. There was no project name, there was no version number, there was no-

Kate Toon:                              I bet there were no page numbers at the bottom of the page either.

Belinda Weaver:                  No. There’s none of it. I just had the copy on the page.

Kate Toon:                              I bet it was Times New Roman, wasn’t it? Was it Times New Roman?

Belinda Weaver:                  Oh Kate, don’t offend me like that.

Kate Toon:                              What are you? You’re the Arial girl or a Helvetica.

Belinda Weaver:                  I like Calibri.

Kate Toon:                              Oh, you weirdo. Let’s move on.

Belinda Weaver:                  But the point is-

Kate Toon:                              [crosstalk 00:29:43]

Belinda Weaver:                  We’ve got a whole other episode on fonts. But then she basically said, “What if this gets separated, what if this gets passed around? This document has nothing that tells me what it is and what it’s about and who it belongs to and who wrote it.” I was like, “That’s a really good point.”

Kate Toon:                              I know. And it seems such basic stuff when you’re kind of a couple fo years in, but when you’re first starting out, people don’t know. And that’s why this copy deck is for sale in the Clever Copywriting School. Anyway, moving on. Okay, so we’ve had this discussion before I think or we’ve argued about it so I think we arm wrestled about it. How many versions of the copy deck do you produce?

Belinda Weaver:                  I have two rounds of revisions with each project so that means three versions of the copy deck and if the third version has had revisions applied, I usually wait to make sure they’re okay before I go and get it proofread. But I like to get projects happening so that by the time I’m creating the third version, it is the final version and that’s the proofread version. So three, sometimes a fourth version if that’s the professional proofreaded version and that you … ‘Cause you have an extra one.

Kate Toon:                              I have a secret sneaky baby one. I do four so I start off with what I call my skeleton deck which is the bare bones of the copy so it’d be everything that we talked about in that outline as well. So the tone of voice guidelines, the page for each page, maybe I’d put the keywords in, maybe I’d take the notes that I’ve taken from the brief and the discussion and put them in bulleted lists on the page, not written out, just some notes. I would highlight any gaps and I would probably write like maybe a 200-word sample. So usually something from the homepage or the about page. And then I send that to the client and say, “Hey look, this is what I’m working with. This is everything I got. These are my notes, this is the tone of voice you’ve agreed, here’s a little snippet of copy. Here’s the keywords, this is missing. There are not very much for page seven, but there’s an awful lot for page eight. Do you really want to see all of that?” And this serves a 2.2 purposes. Yeah, really important.

Kate Toon:                              Number one, it gives the client and opportunity to get their fact straight before I start writing ’cause it’s much harder to edit a full written line in a copy than a bullet point. Two, it puts the ball back in their court, which for me, when I’m very busy is very important. It can take me only like a couple of hours to put together a skeleton deck, send that to the client. I’ll give myself 24 hours, 48 hours to work on my other stuff. And also I feel it makes it much more collaborative. Then I have my first deck, first draught. I’d say that’s 60% of the waiver.

Kate Toon:                              Then my second draught. So skeleton, first. Second, which will be about 80 to 90% there and then I’m same as you, the last draught is really dotting Is, crossing Ts and proofreading. So for all that.

Belinda Weaver:                  Absolutely. One of the things-

Kate Toon:                              You go.

Belinda Weaver:                  Oh, that’s all right. I just completely had a brain fart and forgot what I was going to say.

Kate Toon:                              I’m so glad because I was going to ask you when do you handover copyright? When does that copy deck become the client’s copy deck? And you take your little copyright symbol off the bottom and you put the client … It belongs to the client.

Belinda Weaver:                  When they pay their invoice.

Kate Toon:                              I like it.

Belinda Weaver:                  Or when we hit approval, whichever happens first.

Kate Toon:                              Yeah.

Belinda Weaver:                  But when they pay their … Like if they pay their invoice first but we’re still finalising revisions, then obviously it’s when we finish. But they don’t own nothing until they pay for it.

Kate Toon:                              Definitely true. And I also have another little template in the shop and I think you have one similar in your course, which is a final approval document that literally legally hands over the copyright to them and says, “This is what we agreed, this is what you got. It’s now yours. By the way, will you give me a testimonial? Here’s what I wrote that you might want to use.” So I do that as well. And that final document is kind of like done deal because you can sometimes get clients who two months later will come back and say, “Can you just make one little [inaudible 00:33:55]? Can you just make this one little change?” And if you don’t have that final document saying, “We’re done.” You can feel almost like, “Oh god, I should just do it.” But all those little tiny changes add up to being another job that you can’t do because you’re too busy doing little stupid changes on the last [crosstalk 00:34:11]

Belinda Weaver:                  Yes. You need closure. This is [crosstalk 00:34:14]

Kate Toon:                              You need closure. So there’s obviously a lot more that we can say about copy decks, I’m sure. If you have more questions about copy decks that you would like us to cover off, then of course you can head to our page on Facebook and leave them there or go to the blog and leave them there. But I think that’s a wrap Belinda Weaver.

Belinda Weaver:                  Yeah, I think we’ve covered it. And you know what, if you started this episode going, “A copy what? And what are they even talking about?” Don’t be embarrassed, these are questions we get all the time because quite frankly, copy deck is jargon and us copywriters use it all the time. It makes us sound clever. But now you know. Now you know what I use.

Kate Toon:                              And we’ll include links to … Belinda’s written a great article about copy decks, I’ve written a couple as well and the template and various other bits in the show notes of this blog. But as regular listeners will know, this is a time we read out a review of the show. And today, we’re giving a shout out to Sarah content from Australia. Maybe Sarah Content from Australia. Sarah, content … Sarah, thank you. “Working as a copywriter from home can be a lonely endeavour but listening the Hot Copy makes me feel inspired. It lights my fire,” like what she did there, “And gives me the confidence to keep on showing up, keep ’em, coming.” Thank you Sarah. And keep the reviews coming. Keep the reviews coming people.

Kate Toon:                              If you enjoyed the show, please don’t forget to subscribe and leave a rating and review on iTunes, Stitcher or wherever you found this podcast. Your review will help otherS find us and make me and Belinda smile and we’ll give you a shout out on the show. And as I mentioned earlier, you can head to and leave your comments and questions on the blog post and find all those useful links. So thanks very much Belinda, my fellow ginger.

Belinda Weaver:                  Thank you very much Kate, welcome to the club.

Kate Toon:                              Yay! Happy writing. Oh, until next time, happy writing. Whatever!


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