Design Agencies Are Leaving Millions of Dollars On The Table

Designers at design agencies have a unique ability to stare at copy for days at a time and never know what it says. To them, it’s another graphic element, as it should be.

But what if design agencies could evaluate the copy as well as lay it out? What if they could truncate to it make it pithier and easier to fit? What if they could augment it to better complement a visual idea they had? What if they could go back to the client and say “we know what you were going for but here’s a better way of getting there?”

What’s that worth to a client? And what’s that worth to you?

Design agencies should offer copyediting

Juli A. Herren wrote a great piece about the value of good writing to designers for InVision. All 1,466 words of it are bang on. But far too often, designers aren’t given good copy to work with. They get copy written by marketing managers or junior SEO strategists who, to be fair, did their best. But what if their best isn’t good enough to compete in an oversaturated world? And what if no one on the client side has the bandwidth to get it where it needs to be?

You can, though. And it’s an easy sell when you consider what better copy can do for your client:

  • Further the brand
  • Drive more awareness
  • Improve resonance
  • Increase conversion rate
  • Promote shares
  • Make designing so much easier

But design agencies shouldn’t offer original copywriting

The disciplines are too divergent. And any senior client worth their salary will know that a design firm offering original copy is compromising both. It’d be like the salt factory making pepper.

But copyediting is different. It’s about improving what’s already there. It’s about a messaging perspective. It’s about truncating and reordering, punching up and toning down. It’s about turning 70 percent into 98 percent. And it’s about coming back to the client with “this is what your piece looks like when everything’s working well.”

So how should design agencies offer copyediting?

First and foremost, it shouldn’t be a full-time position. Even if you have a large need and could keep a copyeditor busy 40 hours a week, you’ll want your copyeditor(s) to be as removed from your process as much as possible. It’s the only way to get a truly unbiased perspective, which is what you want.

Secondly, you want a copyeditor with cross-industry experience. You’ll want them to have been exposed to different message presentation styles they can draw from when reviewing your work. Like with design, the possibilities for copy are endless when you know what needs to be conveyed.

Thirdly, you’ll want affordability. That’s why you won’t want to bring on a copywriter to do your copyediting. A copywriter will charge on average 40 percent more than a copyeditor because starting with a blank page is a different skill that commands a higher price. If you position the value prop of copyediting properly, you could profit upwards of  25–35 percent on all jobs that include copyediting ¾which really should be every file with words, even if it’s a proofread.

Now think about how many files you send out in a typical month and do the math.

What can copyediting do for a design agency?

  • Increase revenue
  • Improve the work
  • Protect against misprints and other costly embarrassments
  • Demonstrate care for clients
  • Make designers’ jobs easier

If you’re a design agency looking to boost revenue in a helpful way and you don’t yet have a reliable go-to copyeditor, let’s talk. We’ll make your client feel better about you and the work you give them.

Good advice for design agencies