Friday, June 4, 2010

On the "Theatre" of Freelance Writing

I had a long phone conversation with a client the other day. We were discussing our approach for an upcoming project and some revisions from a previous project. At the end of the conversation, the client said something that made me think.

He owned his own business and had clients of his own. He said the conversation we were having was priming him to love the writing I sent—it was the same way he operated with his own clients. And we had an interesting discussion about the “theatre” of freelancing. And this made me think…how much of my client interaction process is for my own benefit, and how much is to reassure or “prime” the client?

If everything were done just for my benefit alone, I would do pretty much everything via email for some projects--and keep it to a single phone interview for others. I wouldn’t need to have long talks in most cases. Everything I didn’t need would be trimmed in the interest of time.

But that’s not really providing the most effective service possible. In my resume writing practice, for example, I interview clients by phone. It would be much more efficient for me to have everyone fill out a questionnaire and send it over. If I ask the questions the right way, stress in the beginning how important it is to be thorough, and ask for corroborating documents such as old resumes, I get all the info I need. But the client wants to feel like they’re getting a document that reflects “them.” And some people won’t feel that way if they don’t have a chat. I’ve learned that most clients will be much happier with the final product if they feel like you’ve gotten to know them—and they’ve become invested in the process.

What’s your feeling on the theatre of freelance writing? What do you do in your process that’s more for your clients’ benefit than your own?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I use this on some of my higher-level clients. I know the only way to really get them on my side sometimes is to show them I know what I'm doing. I do that by asking them questions that are designed to A) get the info necessary to do the job, and B) show them I know more about what the job entails than they think.

In general if I'm not talking to them on the phone I'm telling them in email how I'm handling it, and I do tend to show them a little more of my process so they'll understand I know what I'm doing. Sometimes they just want to be reassured that I'm not playing at this.

One company thought I'd hung the moon because of a question I'd asked. And I explained how I'd go about setting up their project, which was so basic, but they'd never considered it. I became their hired genius. LOL