10 Questions Freelance Writers Must Ask Before Beginning a Writing Project
There is no denying that to excel in the field of content writing a writer must possess genuine writing talent, focus, foresight and an uncanny ability to read the client’s mind! Often, businesses hire content writers and copywriters to develop content for their company website or to breathe life into their existing, dull and boring website.
Things become difficult when clients themselves lack clarity and are unable to communicate clearly their expectations from the writing project. In such a scenario, the writer lacks a sense of direction.
Unable to understand the requirement, the writer may create content that is far different from what the client needed.
Since not all customers provide detailed briefs, it is imperative for the content writer to respect the uniqueness of each project and ask relevant questions before beginning the writing task.
Understanding the project’s scope is the first and foremost step to producing relevant, focused and likeable content.
QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE WRITING
If you are a freelance writer who wishes to excel at each writing task you take up, you must first accept that the client’s expectations are always going to be high.
If a business owner or prospective client does not provide enough background information, it is up to you, the writer, to ask the right questions so that you can gather sufficient information to create killer content and effective copy.
Here are 10 essential questions you must ask a client before starting a writing project –
1. Tell me about your Business / Company
What is your company about?
This is a pretty straightforward question but it still needs to be asked as it provides unique company-specific information that throws light on the company’s soul, their functioning, and their identity.
You must encourage the client to be as detailed in their answers as possible since it is their inputs that will help you give the content a unique voice.
Other specific queries like ‘When was the company/business founded?’, etc.
2. Define your Prospective Customers
Who is your target audience?
This is a million dollar question, one that requires a clear and precise answer. Ask the client to give you a profile of their target market – their age group, gender, location, and preferences.
Knowing who you are writing for is essential for producing content that gets the desired results.
3. Define your Core Values
What are your core brand values?
In order to write content that resonates with the business/company, you must understand the client’s core business values and beliefs.
- What are their short and long-term goals?
- What is their vision for the future of their company?
- What is the mission behind the company?
Understanding the core of the business will enable you to provide a unique and distinctive voice to their website content and other materials meant for business communication.
Remember, there is a lot of general information you can find online using a simple search. However, when it comes to company-specific information, your research begins and ends with your client.
4. Describe your Products & Services
What do you sell?
Ask the client to give you a comprehensive overview of the products they sell and the services they offer.
Once you know about their offerings in detail, your job is to present these services and products in a genuine, convincing and focused manner.
5. What are the Benefits of using your Services/Products?
How do you solve your customers’ problems?
As a copywriter, it is your job to write such relevant and effective content that showcases the advantages a customer can derive from using a product or service.
Remember, what defines a good product or service is not its features, rather its benefits.
So make sure to ask your clients to define how their goods or services can solve the customers’ problems and assist them in improving their lives.
6. Define your Competitors
Who do you see as your competitors?
Knowing what you are up against is always recommended as it helps in research.
During the initial stages, remember to ask your clients to profile their competitors. Once you know who they are, take a look at their websites to understand their core competencies as well as how they operate.
7. Tell me about your company’s USP
How are you different from your Competitors?
Now that you know who their competitors are, find out how your client scores over their competition.
By understanding a brand’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP), you can write powerful and valuable content that reflects the company’s core competencies and gives readers clear reasons why they should buy from your client.
8. Describe your Strengths
Why should your prospective customers buy from you or do business with you?
This is another crucial question that needs specific answers from your client.
The only way you can position your client correctly is if you know about their business strength and also their weakness.
Encourage your client to define the top reasons why a prospective customer should use their services and products instead of their competitors. Some of the top reasons may include – their reliability, dedication towards delivering on time, their active task force, high-end machinery, and international standards, etc.
9. Define the Purpose of the Content
What is the objective of developing this content?
Whether you are writing an article, web content or rewriting existing copy, it is useful to find out the client’s goals with regards to the content.
The goal may be to build a positive image, achieve a higher turnover or communicate something important to their readers. Whatever the reason may be, knowing the purpose and objective will help you to tailor the content accordingly.
Can you send me a detailed Sitemap?
Before you start working on the content, it is good practice to ask the client for a sitemap of pages or topics for which they need content.
Other than that, understanding the client’s expectations with regards to the content’s word count is also a good idea, especially if you charge per word rates for the content you develop.
A client may give you a free hand when it comes to how long a content piece needs to be. However, there may be others who are pretty clear about how wordy or succinct they would like a write-up to be.
Hence, it is ideal to discuss their preferences well in advance.
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To make your freelance writing career successful, you must start each and every writing project the correct way, and this includes asking the client relevant questions about their content requirement.
It will not only give you an edge over other writers but also help you to complete each project successfully.