The Copywriter's Crucible

Surviving the Vagaries of the Freelance Life

Why “buffing up” existing copy isn’t always possible

Posted by rachelwriter on August 17, 2009

Photo Courtesy: BrittneyBush/Flickr

Photo Courtesy: BrittneyBush/Flickr

Often, people ask me if I can simply “clean up” or “buff up” some copy they’ve already written.  You know.  Not rewrite it.  Not start it from scratch.  Just… fix it up.  Make it sparkle.  Make it shine.

Here’s the thing, though: often—and, I don’t mean this in an offensive way, guys—the copy these people give me to “buff up” flat out stinks.  As in, there’s no amount of polishing in the world that’ll make it glisten and glow.

In cases like these, there’s really no choice but to start from scratch and rewrite the thing.

And, that’s okay.  I’m cool with that.

The problem is when the client doesn’t see it that way.

Look, proofreading and spellchecking are one thing.  But going in and making sure that the copy is a.) relevant; b.) compelling; c.) concise; d.) purposeful; and e.) on-target often requires a lot more than a cursory glance for a misplaced comma. 

In fact, depending on the quality of the copy, such a task may require a complete overhaul.  Frankly, it’s up to the copywriter to decide.

Trust me: it’s not that the copywriter is trying to rip people off by taking on more work than what’s necessary.  Good copywriters have eyes and brains that are practically programmed to spot crappy copy and clean it up.  That’s what they do.  They can’t help it.  It’s their job.

So, the next time you seek out a copywriter for help “polishing” or “buffing up” your copy and the copywriter tells you it’d be best to start from scratch, please, please, puh-leeze don’t put up a stink. 

If you do, I hate to say it, but, the only thing that’s going to be left stinkin’ is your copy. 

 —Rachel

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