5 Tips to Help with Writing for a Variety of Clients
Over the last few weeks I’ve had the pleasure of working with some truly unique and wonderful clients. From writing press releases and catalogue content for an international luxury brand, to setting up a new website for an up-and-coming small business in Gothenburg, Sweden – it’s been a wild ride. It really adds some spice to my week when I get to work with such interesting clients.
One of the questions I get asked most by friends and aspiring freelancers alike is ‘how do you write for such different clients, and keep them all happy?’ And it’s a valid question! While some freelance writers and/or editors like to maintain a specialty and target that particular audience, I really enjoy writing content for a wide range of businesses. It keeps my days interesting, and it means that I never feel that my work is getting stale or lacking in fun!
There are a few key tips I’d recommend for ensuring that you make your client happy, no matter who you’re writing for.
- Understand your client
Don’t presume that you know what your client wants, even if you’ve worked with similar businesses in the past. As a freelance writer, you may feel that you know it all. Believe me, your client wants to have faith in you, but they want to know that you’re doing your due diligence and really tailoring your approach to their brand. Do your research. Check out your client’s website, previous examples of the kind of work you’ll be doing and ask questions. They want to know that you’re hearing them, that your content is going to match their needs and that you’re open to their suggestions.
- Understand the brief
You may find that some clients don’t know what they want, until you show it to them. Others have a very clear idea in mind about the kind of content they need. You’ll be able to tell the difference based on the detail of the information they give you. Just ensure that you’re really understanding their request, and ask questions to further clarify what they want from you. As a freelance writer, the client expects that you know what you’re doing, sure, but they also want to know that you’re treating their project as unique and important. When email communication is hard to decipher, pick up the phone and give them a call. You’d be amazed at what a 5-minute chat can clear up, versus dozens of emails from a time-poor executive.
- Keep the lines of communication open
As we’ve already covered above, don’t be afraid to ask questions and even pick up the phone if your emails aren’t getting the clear responses that you need. While you don’t want to bombard your client with a steady stream of emails (they wouldn’t have hired you if they had time like that!) you should still keep in touch to let them know the progress you’re making. Depending on the project, you should send through updates and samples as you make progress, so that your client can let you know whether you’re on the right track.
- Offer revisions without taking offence
Some clients are looking for content, content and lots of content. If you’re writing articles for a website or blog, your client may be happy for you to take the lead and let the article be what it is, without their input. Others will want very specific content, which is tailored to their brand. It is completely normal for a client to send a request for minor revisions of your completed project. Most freelance writers will accept a couple of offers for minor revisions without charge, but your policy on revisions is really up to you. When clients ask for a complete rewrite of the article or project – that’s where things can get tricky. The advice from other freelance writers differs on this. Did you miss the point of the brief? Did the client change their mind about what they wanted, or were they just too vague about it in their notes to you? The most important thing to do in this situation is assess where the miscommunication has occurred, and try to fix it. If you follow the steps above, you can hope to avoid a ‘rewrite’ situation. But at the end of the day, how important is this client to you – and how will this affect your reputation? Try the best you can to rectify the situation, and if you can’t come to an agreement about the final outcome, thank the client for their time and for the opportunity, and refer them on to someone else.
- Follow up
Once you’ve submitted your work to the client, and all revisions are done, you need to follow up with them. A quick phone call or simply an email to thank them for entrusting you with the task lets the client know that you’ve enjoyed working with them, and would love to hear from them the next time they need some content written. As they’ll tell you in marketing school: it takes 5 times the effort (and expense) to find a new client than it does to hold on to an existing one.