Quite often in the cyber-venting chambers known as writer forums you’ll find freelancers grumbling that “mind reader” is not found in the content writer job description. This is usually the result of accepting an assignment for which the instructions were not clear, not understood, or not firmly grounded in reality. Often, all three.
A series of frustrating revisions ensue, and in the worst cases, an escalation of some sort finds the writer either dropping the article or vowing never to write for the client again, and really meaning it this time!
I rarely encounter this issue because my intuition rocks and I can smell an energy-sucking situation from the next state over. If I’m confused while reading a project description, I divine that the job is going to cost me more in time, creative energy, and angst-ridden insomnia than it’s worth to me in U.S. dollars.
The care and guiding of your content creator
There are two job-dispensing styles that clients exhibit I particularly favor. They represent extremes at the opposite ends of the “guiding” spectrum.
The first client acts as Open-Handed Muse. They provide only the article title, which tells me all they need me to know. They offer statements like the following, which clearly communicates what they want me to know:
I hate micromanaging creative individuals as it restricts the awesomeness they make.
Creative freedom is yours. Let me know if you need anything.
I feel you have a good grasp as to what we’re looking for so feel free to use your creativity. Let me know if you need more direction!
These clients do not ask for revisions, and they usually rate pieces with “Exceeded Expectations.” They are the trusting souls who, for whatever reasons, believe that whatever I produce will be sufficient unto their needs. Bless them and keep them!
The second type of client is a bit of a Content Control Freak, and I mean that in the best way! They usually provide a few resource links from which the material should be culled, and then they lay out a coherently structured outline with enough bullet points to pretty much eat up half the maximum word count.
Sub topics within the article should be:
Here is an outline to guide your writing:
Following is one of my recent favorites (facts altered to protect the client). Who wouldn’t want to collaborate with this perky person?
Looking for a 675-800 word well-researched blog post written for folks who … (specifically …) on how to keep them motivated, boost morale and prevent burnout. One possible angle that comes to mind is … but I’ll leave the way it’s framed up to you. :]
Also, I can’t emphasize enough that you’re going to need to do research for this, don’t just put ideas onto paper–back them up, pretty please!
A few points I’d like to see made in the introduction section:
Here are a few requirements:
- Quotes are great! Use ’em if you find them! (same deal with attribution as above)
- Keep the tone upbeat and fun–you can even be a little snarky or funny if you’d like. Bonus points if you can make slightly “nerdy” pop culture references
Don’t hesitate to write to me if you need a sounding board for ideas or have any questions!
Laura W appreciates all of her perky, and quirky, clients.