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  • Writer's pictureHannah Rooke

Sorry, sausages and gremlins.

Yellow sticky note with Sorry! handwritten in blue ink pen, sitting on a wooden background.

I lied. Forgive the inner marketer. The four-step process I detail on my website belies the work I do behind the scenes. You get a lot more magic than you might realise.

I was chatting through a project with a client the other day and mentioned there are loads of edits I do before sharing the first draft with them. They had no idea! And it got me thinking.

You don’t have to see how the sausage is made to taste it, but it’s sometimes important to understand the craftmanship and appreciate the value of a quality product.

So, here’s what goes into my metaphorical sausages.

Brief – Whether we work from your brief, fill in one of my templates, discuss things loosely on the phone and then confirm in writing, I will always dig deeper and ask questions to clarify.

Research – Even the smallest job requires research, even if it’s as simple as checking a website or other source material. Other research can include reading news articles, looking at competitors, reviewing industry trends, exploring target audience habits, touch points and lifestyle, sourcing relevant and supporting statistics or data.

Rough plan – While doing the previous two stages, I’ll jot down notes (in no particular order and very rough). These will include key aims, observations, messaging, tone, brand styles…

Plan refinement – I then review and refine my rough notes, reordering, removing some fluff and repetition. I often share a plan with the client for approval and feedback before jumping into the first draft, particularly if it’s a more complex piece or developed from an interview or verbal brief.

First draft – Once I’ve got things organised in my head and on the plan, and the client’s happy, I’ll start fleshing things out for the required format. This is where the change is most dramatic. There can be anything from four to forty slightly different, half-lives or abandoned versions through this stage. There are lots of checks - thesaurus, dictionary, grammar, style, legibility. Even some extra research or questions asked.

Once I’m reasonably happy with a full version, I print it off and often leave it for a while (overnight if possible) before reviewing and editing, sometimes chopping and changing order, emphasising key points, checking style and tone, and removing any repetition, waffle or fluff.

Only once I’m ready, I’ll share it with the client for their feedback.

Client revisions – I’ll act on client feedback and polish accordingly. Inevitably, there are some areas I want to edit to strengthen, even if the client hasn’t flagged it. I’ll work closely with the client, making sure I understand all the feedback and incorporate things fully, pushing back where necessary or double-checking the consequences.

Approval – Once the client’s happy, I send a final ‘clean’ version, without all the track changes, comments, or explanations on. I’ll also make sure all external links and references are still accurate.

Final proofread – I always recommend a full and final proofread once the copy is formatted (magically turned into a web page, pdf, presentation etc). Tech gremlins regularly interfere when ‘design and artworking’, particularly with symbols, numbers or line spaces. This is a crucial step that’s often overlooked. And particularly important in printed materials.


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