12 questions freelance writers should ask their clients

So you’ve landed a freelance writing gig — congrats!

When you write for clients, it’s important to keep in mind that a lot hinges on your performance. I’m not just talking about the quality of your writing, either. When you offer your writing services, you become your own brand, and how you work with your client will go a long way toward determining if you get any repeat projects. Plus, if you’re finding your clients through gig sites like Fiverr or Upwork where your client has the opportunity to rate you, it’s crucial that you leave a good impression.

One way to demonstrate your professionalism while alsosetting yourself up for success is to ask the right questions up front. The answersto these questions will:

  1. Demonstrate that you know what you’re doing
  2. Ensure you have everything you need to complete the project
  3. Help avoid unnecessary (and potentially confusing) back-and-forth emails

Whether you’re new to the world of freelance writing or you’re just looking for some extra tools to add to your freelance tool kit, here are some questions you should be asking your client at the beginning of a new project:

“When’s the deadline?”

Find out when the client needs to receive each piece of the project. This includes drafts and final version. Hopefully I don’t have to tell you to meet whatever deadlines you’re given!

“Will I be responsible for revisions?”

Some clients expect to give feedback on a first draft and then receive updates completed by the writer. Other clients prefer to take the writer’s draft and edit it themselves. It’s always better to ask than assume. Also, if you charge for revisions, make sure you’re upfront about that too.

“How would you like to receive the work?”

Does the client accept Word Docs? Do they prefer to work in Google Drive? Are they okay with getting draft copy in the body of an e-mail? Find out how your client wants to receive the project to make the delivery as seamless as possible.

“How and when will payment be processed?”

If it matters to you how you get paid (i.e. via Paypal, check, direct deposit, etc.) you should have that conversation early. Some clients are flexible, while others may only have one method at their disposal. Typically, you should expect to be paid within 30 days of issuing your invoice (which you should state on the invoice), but sometimes it’s helpful to know when they process payments so you can plan accordingly.

“What keywords should be included in the piece?”

If the work you’ve been hired to write is going to appear online as a blog post or article, chances are that your client has specific keywords in mind. As with revisions, if you charge extra for specific ranges of keywords, let your client know upfront. There’s also a chance your client doesn’t have an answer to this questions. This is where brushing up on SEO will come in handy.

“Are there any links that need to be included?”

As with keywords, your client may want you to work specific links into the project.

“What is the desired word count/limit for the piece?”

Not only will knowing how long the project should be ensure you meet the client’s expectations, but it will also allow you to provide an estimate on how much the project will cost them.

“What should the voice/tone of the piece be?”

Does the client want the project to conversational or formal? Salesy or informative? Sometimes it also helps to ask if the client has a brand or messaging guide that you can reference.

“What preliminary notes/information are you able to share?”

Any information the client is able to give you upfront willmake your life a lot easier (and will save them some research fees in theprocess).

“Am I responsible for sourcing images?”

On occasion, a client might expect you to include images to accompany the written copy. Because of licensing, this can be tricky so if you’d rather not have to deal with images, let the client know that they’re not included in the service you provide upfront.

“Is there an aspirational business/example you’d like me toreference?”

Sometimes clients have an example in mind of what they’d like the project emulate in sound, style, or quality. Problems can arise if they have their heart on something that they don’t share with you; it’s hard to manage expectations if you don’t know what they are! If they have an “aspirational” (this is marketing agency jargon for “something you aspire to”) example in mind, knowing it will help set you both up for success.

“Who should I contact if I have any additional questions?”

Avoid running around aimlessly and spamming the wrong inboxesby knowing exactly who your point person is from the very beginning.

Have any other questions you think should be added to this list? Tell me all about it in the comments!

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. wordearthling says:

    Great list of questions for clients!

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