Business clients have their own ideas about what comprises quality online content, and those don’t always “gel” with mine. If, like me, you’ve had clients who expect every blog post you write to be about buying their products or services, then you’ll know this is an occupational hazard for every freelance writer.
And if, like me again, you hate writing keyword-stuffed, sales-y material because you know it’s not good blog content, the only solution is to educate your client so s/he understands what it’s really about. Then develop his trust so you can take make your services indispensible and add value to his business.
Show, Don’t Tell
You can talk until you’re blue in the face and it won’t mean the client has heard a word. Or even if s/he has, it doesn’t mean your advice will be followed. After all, what do you know? You’re just a freelance writer, correct? You can’t possibly understand the client’s business. So don’t bother to keep trying. Rather, find a way to show him what you mean:
- Look for examples of other companies in the same industry as your client.
- Bookmark specific blog posts, preferably ones that show the number of shares and Likes
- Find information that supports your point of view on blogging from authoritative sites. Sites like Copyblogger, Search Engine Land and KissMetrics are good places to start.
- Prepare a presentation for the client that links to a range of competitive sites and show how well their posts are doing.
This might not work right off the bat, but your client will likely be impressed enough with your display of knowledge to let you have some leeway in which to prove yourself.
Build Up the Trust
Once you’ve got the go ahead to write the client’s content the best way you know how, it’s important that you continue to build on your reputation. There are three specific areas in which to build up the client’s trust and respect, so don’t let any of these be your downfall:
1. Be reliable:
Ask for or develop an editorial calendar so the client knows what to expect from you and when. If your client is expecting you to produce something, make sure you do it or let him know you can’t. Sure, everyone has emergencies, but I’ve lost count of how often I’ve subcontracted work out to another freelance writer with tons of lead time, only to hear excuses long after the work is overdue. Aim to write your draft at least 24 hours ahead of the submission deadline, or the expected delivery date. If you aren’t going to manage that, ask for an extension at that point. Most clients are only too happy to give you extra time occasionally, but they hate it if it seems like you only started working on it an hour before it’s due.
2. Put in the effort:
Whatever the client is paying you to write for him, if you’ve accepted the rate it’s up to you to do your best work. Another pet peeve of mine is when I contract work out to someone I believe is a dedicated freelance writer, only to get back a piece that looks like it’s been slapped together. The spelling and grammar might be fine, and even the keywords, but if the research is shoddy and the facts haven’t been verified—or it feels like the piece was rushed—I’m not going to be giving out any more work to the person.
3. Check your work:
Perhaps this one should be first on the list. The number of times I see blog posts with errors on them is legendary; and no, it’s not the publisher or the client’s fault they didn’t edit the work of the freelance writer they used. It’s the writer’s fault for not proofreading the work. Nothing undermines your client’s trust as fast as producing work with typos and mistakes does.
Prove the Point
Nothing succeeds like success, and although it’s a cliché it’s still pretty accurate. Ask your client for access to his analytics to see which posts perform the best, so you can use the information to prove how well you’re doing for him. If he isn’t keeping a record of the improvement in traffic, undertake to do it yourself so you can show it to him.
The magic formula for being a successful freelancer writer is a) telling your client what you can do for him, b) doing it, and then c) showing him proof that you did it.