Have you ever experienced an endless revision of a copywriting project with a client? Yes? It frustrating, right? I’ve been there too.
Managing copywriting projects and client relationships is a challenging task. And keeping clients happy without driving yourself crazy or cutting the time you should spend on other clients’ projects, is key-success to your freelance writing career.
Full disclosure: I believe there is nothing such as good or bad copywriting. And revisions are very often the result of overlooking requirements gathering stage.
What is it to gather requirements
The requirements gathering stage is the basement of any writing project. They are a set of question you ask your new copywriting clients, perhaps in forms of briefing document or checklist, to determine the purpose of the writing project from the go.
These routinely asked questions —though they can seem useless sometimes— help you determine the materials and references you need to refer to in the copywriting project. Plus, you will learn relevant details such as the target audience, the format, the tone of voice, and more.
So, if you’re planning to commit to a copywriting project, note that the requirements gathering stage defines crucial detail regarding the project —the key to your success.
How to go about gathering requirements
The material need to come up with an article layout is somewhat different from a writer to another. Similarly, there is no right way to gather the requirements of your new copywriting clients.
Working out the right steps depends on what you need to complete a copywriting project. Either it is to write articles, blog posts, marketing materials, etc.
Question you need to ask your Copywriting client
Though requirements may vary from a project to another, there are some general details you can ask your new clients. This details range as follow:
#1 Project purpose
Clients that hire you to write for them has a goal set. You need to know what’s the company expectation at the end of the day.
Perhaps, it’s to increase subscribers, promote awareness, drive sales, or leads. Or rather, they have no clear-cut perspective. And, they need you to advise them on the project that suits their company at the time.
Whatever it is, knowing the end goal affect how you approach the content.
#2 Target audience and tone
As you are taking on a writing project, you must identify your target audience. Knowing the ultimate beneficiary will make it easier to get your ideas across to them through your copy.
Another must-know requirement is the client favored tone. You should ask what tone describes your client the most. Some clients prefer professional, authoritative, or serious tone. Other will like it to be a relaxed, fun, and friendly tone.
To help you understand how your client wants to be perceived, ask for adjectives that best describe your client value and the industries they peek up.
#3 Format and length
An excellent requirement gathering includes details about the format and length of the copy. This consist of:
- Word count range
- Guide lines
- Multimedia files (if any)
- External and internal links
- Products, services, phrase and topics to avoid
- Keyword density for SEO purpose
- The call to action (if any)
- Content format (blog post, white paper, proposal, academic article)
- Content delivering finish format (via email, client’s CMS, Google Docs, Word Docs, Powerpoint, Pdf)
- Material distribution (Online or print)
#4 Contract and payment
Determine the project timeline and the payment terms—How fast can you get upfront paiement? who you invoice? what currency? and whether it is an hourly? daily? or per word billing?
Having this set out right from the beginning helps you know how long it will take from start to finish of the project. And, whether it’s a part-time or full-time position. You also learn about the non-disclosure agreement, so you don’t mistakenly divulge clients’ confidential information.
The requirements gathering stage is an essential step before any writing process. Though it can be overwhelming sometimes, it saves time for both parties to know what the end goal is.
Spending time identifying what you need to produce an efficient writing copy will help you fit in clients expectations as well as readers need.
There is no one way to gather requirements for new copywriting clients. However, there are some common questions you can ask:
- The project purpose the project
- The target audience and the tone
- The format and length of the writing copy
- The contract and payment terms