As a freelance writer, have you ever been in the following position? You get a new client (hooray!) and during your first client call, you realize that not only do they not know how to write, but they don’t even know how to tell you what they want written.
Unfortunately, this scenario is common for freelance writers, and it can be frustrating when you waste hours just trying to get on the same page.
In an effort to help you clearly understand what your clients want from you, and to make sure your deliverables hit the mark on the very first try, use these questions to guide your first interaction.
Always ask these questions on your first client call!
Who is your target audience?
Before you sit down to write, you need to know everything you can about your client’s target audience. Are they young women with a sense of humor? Educated business owners? Industry leaders? Moms? Financial gurus with PhDs? Doctors? Men interesting in men’s grooming?
Learning about your client’s audience will give you a good indication of the kind of language you need to use in your piece. After all, if you are writing a post about going to college to a teenager, you’re going to use much different language than if you are writing a review of a new medical device for doctors.
Can you please give me specific examples of the tone you want to convey?
Just as it’s important to understand the audience, it’s vital to understand the tone your client wants you to convey. I find it’s best to ask them to give you concrete examples by sending you other articles that match the tone they are striving to acheive. This way, you can stay consistent and expectations will be met up front.
Will you please provide me with a topic and a few bullet points on what you would like to highlight?
I always ask this question on my first client call. ALWAYS. This is the money question. When someone gives you a topic with no direction on what you are supposed to focus on, you really could take the article in about a billion different directions. The last thing you want to do is take a shot in the dark. Shooting from the hip will waste your time, and your client’s time. Instead, ask your client to provide you with a simple outline, or bullet points on key points they want you to hit, before you start on the project.
Sometimes I get an email back from the client that sounds like it was written by a 5th grader (hence why they are hiring me to write for them), but it always gives enough information for me to produce a professional piece that the client will love.
Will you send me links to other articles on this same topic that you like and that you would potentially like to link out to?
One of the best ways to get it right is to ask your client to send you articles from other industry experts they like. Not only will that help you understand what points your client wants you to hit, but it will help you with your research. Double win.
Can we start with one article, review it together, and go from there?
This is one of my favorite questions. It’s not easy to write a piece that will represent your client’s business perfectly on the first try, so it’s important to evaluate after you’ve written the first article. Once you have written an article and reviewed it together, take their feedback and make the necessary changes to your next piece. Eventually, you will be able to crank out content for them more quickly.
As you use these questions on our first client call, you will be able to whip out the perfect piece of content that is bound to soar to the top of Google’s search results, and you can bask in the glory of all your social shares. Woot! At worst, you won’t get off the phone call wondering what the heck it is your client wants.
P.S. Sales professionals, check out what you should do on your first client call.