In today’s world, the writer runs the show.
Not just any writer, of course. The pennies-a-word scribe may barely scrape by. But the quality professional writer — the writer who demonstrates high value and trust from the moment of first contact all the way through to delivery of the final word — that person writes his own ticket to success.
Quality professional writers command attention online, whether they do it for themselves or for the businesses they represent. Writers influence behavior, help form opinions, and drive people to take action.
Great writers are the modern-day stonemasons of any online presence. Our words form the very foundation of all online content, whether those words become a blog post, a podcast, or a video. Writers rule the online world!
And successful professional writers do things differently.
They don’t stop at writing with authority. That’s just where they start. They also deliver outstanding value even in the most unexpected moments in their interactions with clients.
In today’s post, we’ll cover how successful writers deliver value in all three stages of a project: before, during, and after.
Value Phase #1: Before the first project begins
Writers set the stage for a quality customer experience before they write a single word for a new project. How can you do this in your own work?
Before you begin
- Listen between the lines. Tune in to your client’s underlying frustrations. Take notes on his current situation. Listen closely when you hear your client talk about long-term goals and desired results.
- Be flexible. Take your client’s current needs into account and offer payment solutions like retainers when they make sense.
- Think strategy. Add value to your services by stepping back and seeing the big picture. Solve a strategy problem; don’t just fulfill a word count.
When presenting your proposal
- Be crystal clear when setting expectations. We’re not delivering pizza in 30 minutes or less — clients deserve to understand exactly how long a project will take, what the milestones will be (and when the writer will hit them), and what form the final product will take.
- Offer terms of service that explain how you work. Craft rock-solid proposals that protect your time and energy and spell out exactly what will happen if the project doesn’t proceed as expected. (This happens a lot!)
Some clients may view writing as a nebulous, indefinable service that can’t be pinned down.
But when you set expectations clearly and leave nothing up to chance, your client will feel more confident about signing a contract and starting to work with you.
Specifics make something that is abstract seem more concrete. Use them!
Value Phase #2: Working on and delivering the project
If a project is going to have a quick turnaround, it might be enough to set the deadline and get to work. But if a project is going to stretch beyond a week — especially if it’s a first project for a new client — it’s a good idea to establish some milestones and keep the client updated as you go along.
While you work
- Use your client’s preferred mode of communication to provide updates. How often and where would your client like his updates? Email? Slack? A quick phone call? Find out how he wants to hear from you and keep him abreast of your progress.
- Format for ease of use. During the information-gathering stage, nail down how the copy you write will be used so you can deliver it in a ready-to-use format the client can plug right in. Does the client prefer you deliver the copy formatted with HTML? Does he expect a copy deck? (Read this to learn what a copy deck is.)
- Deliver more. One major sign of quality is when you over-deliver on what you promise. Do extra competitive research. Deliver the project a day early. Make a few extra suggestions about how your client could use your work.
Again, the idea with these tips is to make an abstract service seem more like a tangible product by delivering extra communication and value every step of the way.
Value Phase #3: After the project wraps up
You’re done! You’ve delivered on your promise and (hopefully) gone above and beyond your client’s expectations.
But you’re not done delivering a quality experience.
To wrap up your project with a remarkable bow, put these ideas into practice:
- Have a post-sale follow-up system in place. If you’re delivering web copy, give it a look once it’s published online and send a quick note to your client to let him know it looks great. If you’re delivering print copy, ask for a sample and send feedback once you review it.
- Send a survey (or a few follow-up questions). New clients may have feedback on your process after your first project with them. Ask them for feedback soon after you finish the project and be sure to include some open-ended questions. Try, “What would have made my service easier to use?” or “Anything you’d like to add?”
- Offer related products or services based on the client’s goals. Once you’ve worked with a client, you may see other ways you can help him meet his needs. Don’t expect your client to be familiar with everything you offer: you do clients a favor when you let them know other ways in which you can help.
Build a profitable freelance writing business
Inside our Content Marketer Certification program, we’ve got a lot more for writers.
We designed this program to help writers make the most of their careers — to help them position themselves and their offerings, so that they can build profitable freelance writing businesses.
And we’re opening the program soon. Drop your email address below and you’ll be the first to hear about it.
What are your value phases?
Service providers become successful when they find ways to deliver value during every stage of communication — even the unglamorous ones like estimating the price of a new project or following up after a project wraps.
Look at your client interactions and use the tips here to find new ways to add value.
What have I missed? If you’ve found a way to stand out (and you’re willing to share it), let me know in the comments section.