What Would YOU Want to Know?
As a freelance writer, there are many different goals you must accomplish within a given piece. But at the end of the day, you only really have one mission – to make the client happy with your work. Whether you’re writing a press release or creating website content, you’re golden as long as the client likes your work.
The problem is, clients aren’t writers. They don’t always know what goes into creating a good piece. They also might give you the bare minimum in terms of instruction. This gives you a lot of leeway, which sounds great from a creative standpoint, but it can easily lead to a piece that goes off-course and alienates the client. What can you do when you don’t know which way to go?
Use Your Imagination
Pretend that you’re the person that will be reading this piece when you’re done. Picture that person’s frame of mind and the takeaways they’ll want when they’re done reading. What do they want to know? What sort of format do they want? Do they want something serious, or would they rather read something on the lighter side?
You don’t always know everything about the topic at hand, and you don’t always know what type of reader your piece will get. But as long as you can get in the ballpark, you’ll be able to come up with something that doesn’t totally miss the mark. And that’s all you can ask for at this juncture.
Put Yourself in the Reader’s Shoes
Moving on from the typical reader of the piece, think about all of the times you’ve sought out content, regardless of the topic. Then, rack your brain and think of the things you like to see. For instance, if you’re reading a press release, you obviously want to know the topic of the press release, as well as dates and times for any events related to the press release. But would you also like to see quotes from leading executives? Do you want to see background information? Would a link to a resource with more information be helpful?
Although you’re a writer in this instance, you’re also a reader. And you’ve read way more than you’ve ever written. Use this backlog of decades of reading experience to help you form your articles. Your intuition will help you to fill in the blanks, guiding you through the writing process and helping you to deliver what the client wants – even if the client can’t articulate what he or she wants.
Even better, thinking outside the box can have significant benefits for your writing career. You can only reach the next level when you go above and beyond expectations. Going that extra mile is much easier when you move beyond what the client wants and delve into what readers need to see in order to be moved. When a client sees that you’ve taken the ball and ran with it, they’ll be more likely to give you repeat work, potentially for more money. Try incorporating your own perspective the next time you get a basic order with little direction. You may find yourself receiving a very lucrative reward for your efforts.
Bryan B is a freelance writer based in Long Island, NY. He’s already started complaining about it being too hot outside.