5 Questions to Ask When Taking on a New Client
As a writer, taking on a new regular client can be a great way to ensure a steady stream of work comes in over the long term. Or you might be considering taking on a more in-depth project with a higher rate of pay than you usually receive but on a short-term basis. Either way, before actually taking on a new client and agreeing to work with them on an assignment, there are certain details you need to know.
This post outlines five of the most important questions you should ask when taking on a new client so that you can understand the nature of the work, meet their deadlines, and ensure the content you create lives up to their expectations.
1. What are the main aims and objectives?
The first thing you need to know when creating content for a new client is what they are actually hoping to achieve with the content. This information can then help you to tailor your writing, establish the right tone, and ultimately create the kind of genuinely useful content that can assist the client with achieving these goals.
For example, if the aim of the content is to encourage readers to spend money on a particular product or service, you may need to adopt a more overtly promotional tone, and your content is going to need to be persuasive. If they are aiming to get people to download a white paper, your content will need to be authoritative and factual.
It can also be beneficial to learn whether the content is intended to solely achieve short-term goals or whether it will remain an important piece of published content for the longer term, as this can help to determine whether the content needs to be contextually relevant to the here and now, or made as evergreen as possible.
2. What is the target audience for the content?
Next, you need to clearly establish who the content is actually intended to target and who is most likely to read it. Depending on the strategic goals of the client, this could either be very broad or intended for a much more niche audience.
If the target audience is primarily other business leaders, you can utilise B2B marketing techniques and language. Knowing this is the audience could also help because you know existing specialist knowledge is likely. By contrast, if the content is intended to serve as a piece of B2C marketing, specialist knowledge cannot be assumed, and the tone may need to be different, as it is being aimed at a wider audience, who may have different levels of understanding.
Knowing the level of existing knowledge that the target audience has can guide you on whether jargon needs to be explained and whether basic topics need to be covered before getting into the heart of the content. Beyond this, it can also be helpful to know how the audience is likely to break down in terms of age, gender, geographical location, etc. and whether the main target of the content is first-time readers or returning readers.
If the content is primarily aimed at people living in the United Kingdom, you will know to write the content using British English, whereas if the audience is mostly located in the United States, you would use American English. If the target is regular readers, you may be able to refer to previously published content.
3. Are there certain things you will need to avoid?
Aside from understanding the purpose and the target audience of the piece, you also need to try to establish some of the preferences of the client in terms of the topics to steer clear of, or writing techniques to avoid.
For instance, a business may wish for you to avoid mention of the products or services of a competitor, or to avoid discussion of certain topics which may encourage readers to look elsewhere for solutions to their problems. Some clients may wish for you to avoid referencing rival websites, or low authority sources such as Wikipedia.
At the same time, there are techniques or uses of language that some clients dislike, such as the use of bullet-pointed lists, or the inclusion of direct quotations from other articles. Asking this question upfront can help freelance writers to avoid having their work sent back for amendments to be made, and this can be important for time management.
4. What are the technical requirements for the content?
In many cases, clients seeking content will also have some specific technical requirements for the finished work, and these requirements can take many different forms. As an example, there may be a need to include certain keywords, or internal links, in order to achieve search engine marketing objectives.
Some requests can include very specific instructions for how the content should be constructed, such as using keywords in specific places within the text or in a certain order. Alternatively, there could be a need to include a certain number of internal and external hyperlinks, and to have these different links placed in specific places within the text.
Having a clear understanding of what is expected can be essential for creating the kind of high-quality content that will encourage the client to make future orders. In some cases, where the requirements are extremely complex or precise, it could also be a good idea to ask for a sample article or an example of similar content on the web.
5. What is the deadline or timescale for the project?
Finally, it is important to get information from the client about the deadline for the completion of work or to ask for information on the overall timescale if they are planning a larger project.
For individual pieces of content, this is likely to be straightforward, as you will usually be given a date by which you need to write and submit the piece. However, even here, it is worth remembering that clients in other parts of the world may be expecting the work to be submitted based on the time zone they are living in.
However, for long-term projects, you may require more details. For instance, you might want to ask how long the project is likely to last or how many individual pieces of content are going to be needed. You could also ask what the client’s expectations are in terms of the number of content pieces created each week.
In order for both you and a client to get the best out of any relationship, establishing agreed parameters and clarifying expectations is key. For more tips on how to enhance your freelance career and manage your schedule as an author, check out our advice on apps or plan to improve your rating – and therefore your potential to attract new Textbroker clients – by considering our rating criteria here.
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About our authorJMMedia is a freelance author who has been writing for Textbroker since 2012. He specialises in the creation of SEO-friendly content on a variety of topics, including online marketing, music, travel, history, video games and sport. Away from work, his interests include reading, listening to audiobooks, and playing football.