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5 Tips For Creative Collaboration: For Copywriters, From Designers

Let’s talk creative collaboration! Here's how copywriters and graphic designers can seamlessly merge their skills for the best outcomes

Graphic with text '5 quick tips for copywriters and graphic designers working together'

Hey fellow creatives!

As a copywriter, I’m under no illusion that copy exists in isolation. Neither does design, socials, or any other element of your branding.

In the often-lonely world of freelancing, it’s when we join forces that the magic really happens. Whether we’re spinning creative copy or crafting funky visuals, it's the seamless merging of skills makes a cohesive final project.

Inspired by some enlightening conversations and calls with fellow freelance creatives, I’m sharing 5 quick, yet invaluable, tips for copywriters and graphic designers working together.

So pour yourself a cup of your favourite hot beverage and let’s dive into creative synergy!

1. Understand Each Other’s Expertise

Barney Abramson, a top graphic design voice, emphasises the importance of copywriters aligning themselves with the creative team or graphic designer:

You are both creatives, meaning you're both striving to solve a creative problem. Far too often, I see copywriters aligning themselves with the project owner, acting as if they're on 'Team Requestor.' Avoid doing that. Instead, proactively engage with the creative team. Seek their insight and understand their creative process above all. Build a rapport and offer support; let them know you're on the same side, not an outsider. By doing so, you'll inspire trust and collaboration, leading to our best work.

Once you know who you’re working with, take the time to familiarize yourself with the skills and style. By understanding each other's strengths, you can leverage your combined creative talents.

2. Pair Up From The Get-Go

Engage in collaborative discussions early in the process to brainstorm ideas, explore creative concepts, and establish a cohesive vision for the project.

As Charlotte Holroyd, brand designer at Creative Wilderness, puts it:

Think of the brand essence, personality, and what makes the brand unique and how you are going to communicate it through words and visually. This will bring about a much more powerful and aligned creative experience that goes deeper than just something that looks and sounds good.

Early collaboration sets the stage for a smoother workflow and ensures that both copy and design are aligned from the start.

A group of women in a creative office working on their laptops

3.    Know Your Part of The Deal

Before embarking on a project, ensure that both parties have a thorough understanding of their part of the brief.

Sarah Mays, a digital marketing professional and owner of The Printed Edge, shares her thoughts on the role of the copywriter:

Copy that is clear and crisp helps the coordinator or designer create an experience for the event or website. It provides direction for the designer in terms of which pages are needed, how to structure the website, whether the design is more tech-intensive or low-tech, etc. All of this is based on the target audience, which is relayed through the copy.

Establish what you’ll be working on and when, as well as times you’ll come together. This will serve as a roadmap for collaboration, ensuring that everyone is aligned from the outset.

4.  Be Open and Available

Of course you need focus time to crack on with your creative work, but you don’t want to leave your collaborator trying to read your mind.

I have the pleasure of working with designer Clara Chang, who says

When the writer sets the context, the designer can get a better understanding of the overall message and it’s a lot easier to create elements and layouts that accommodate the copy.

Maintain open lines of communication throughout the project, sharing ideas, feedback, and updates regularly. This will prevent misunderstandings and delays.

If you visualise the copy to look a certain way, tell the designer. Making suggestions can help you present your creative vision, but respect that the others’ expertise might mean it needs tweaking. As Clara says,

Even if I’m not always able to do what [copywriters] ask, it gives me an idea of what they envisioned for their copy.

5.    Always Keep The Audience In Mind

A designer working on a digital sketch pad surrounded by a colour chart, laptop, and pens.

One mistake both copywriters AND designers make is creating for the client, not the audience. Of course, you want the client to like what you do, they're the ones paying for it after all, but to achieve the goals you have to get clear on the visuals/ words the ideal audience will connect with.

Tara Piggott, a freelance brand identity and graphic design specialist, emphasises that it's essential that the client, designer, and copywriter go in with an aligned understand on the brand's foundational messaging and the goals for the business:

Otherwise the whole website will have a disjointed feeling. The site visitor will be able to pick up on this sense of disharmony, and as a result will be less likely to understand, trust, and remember the brand’s message.

Copywriters and Graphic Designers: The Dream Team!

I'm going to finish by adding my own bonus tip, and it might seem like something you mum would tell you, but to me, it's one of the most important things for successful collaboration:

Keep. Everything. Organized.

Keep track of all project assets, including copy, graphics, and design elements. Establish a centralized system for organizing and storing files, ensuring easy access for both collaborators. I love using Basecamp and Google Drives for this.

Organization is the core of a stress-free working relationship, hence why it's a top priority in my retainer services. Trust me, it'll make everything feel and flow so much better.

If you’re a talented designer, web developer, or other creative, passionate about crafting exceptional experiences for clients, I'd love to hear from you to see how we can combine our skills!

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