Getting the right instructions from your client at the outset of your relationship is essential for being able to work together not just on this project but well into the future. There are four primary reasons why instructions can make or break your relationship.
It is far better to ask for the information upfront and to clarify expectations in your initial conversations and your writing contract rather than waiting until it is too late.
I. First Impressions Count
Getting off on the wrong foot is hard to correct. If you assume that you’ve got everything under control and then wait to ask questions until later, the client will know that you’ve pushed the limits as far as the deadline and will wonder why you didn’t ask questions initially.
This is why you should never agree to work on a writing project or look over a contract until you’ve had the opportunity to review instructions … in full. After you’ve looked carefully at the instructions and verified this is a project you can handle, then go back to the client with any remaining questions.
Taking additional steps like this demonstrates your professionalism and that you care about the project and the client’s individual needs.
II. Waiting to Turn It in Can Lead to Problems for You and the Client
Waiting to turn in the project and finding out that it wasn’t what the client was looking for can be frustrating for you as well as the client. You’ll feel like you’ve let the client down and the client will be confused about what happened in the process that led the final product to look unlike something they actually needed.
You should never take control of the project and attempt to figure things out on your own because this situation can be very aggravating and can lead the client to lose trust in you altogether.
III. Mistakes Mean Added Discussions, Redos & Maybe Even Having to Offer a Discount
If the mistakes are your fault and you did not get enough information to begin with, you’ll have to spend additional time discussing what needs to be changed with the client as well as making those amendments to the piece you already submitted. If what you sent in was totally off target with what the client was looking for, you’ll probably have to start over from scratch.
This means further delays in the delivery of the client’s project and additional time you have to budget into your schedule which you’re not likely being paid for. It’s unlikely that the client will be willing to pay you to rewrite the piece all over again so you’ll also have to count this as a loss.
IV. The Client May Never Hire You Again because You’re Difficult to Work With
Half the battle in being a successful freelance writer today is in having clients you enjoy working with who love working with you too. If it’s challenging to work with you because of misperceptions about directions, then the client is unlikely to stick with you and may instead choose to work with someone else in the future.
This is why you need to get all of the critical information upfront so that you can write a piece that is well in line with what they are looking for.
One of the most important things you can do is to provide writing samples to prospects. This eliminates the challenging problem of the client coming back and saying the tone and style just aren’t what they were looking for. Unfortunately, this kind of feedback is all too common, but it can easily be eradicated just by taking this step.
That way the client gets a chance to see how you write, and signs a contract saying that they’ve reviewed your samples and have agreed on this tone and style being similar to what you’ve shown.
What an Online (SEO) Writer Needs to Know Before Taking on a Project
In order to increase the chances of success with your SEO writing clients, there are a couple of things you should have upfront. Having these as a fillable Google Form or other checklists online that your client can fill out makes client onboarding that much easier, ensuring that you’re both on the same page when the relationship kicks off.
Following are some topics you need to cover in your conversation with the client regarding writing an SEO blog post these days:
- Target length
- Preferred keywords
- Keyword density
- How to use citations or links
- Whether meta tags or other sub header information needs to be included
- Any forbidden topics, forbidden words or forbidden claims
- Preferred calls to action
When you have all of the information upfront, you’re that much more likely to deliver something your clients will love, which leads to future referrals, testimonials and ongoing work.
Have you lost a client because of miscommunication — either on your part or theirs? How did you handle it? Please share in the comments section below.
Next Post: Handling clients who’ve been burned by a freelance writer in the past can be tricky, but you can close the sale and turn their bad experience around by the way you handle your pitch. I’ll talk about how to do this in my next post, as well as when it’s not worth your time to take on a particular client.
Author Bio: Laura is a former inner city teacher and corporate employee who fled the grind in 2012 to work at home. She specializes in SEO content for law firms and insurance agencies, writing everything from ebooks to blogs to video scripts. She is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, and blogs at SixFigureWritingSecrets.com.