I was both surprised and delighted to know that yesterday was my official one year anniversary of being a freelance writer. I honestly wasn’t sure if this was going to be a viable option for me, but at least in the meantime it is. And considering much of what I do I wound up learning as I went, it’s a seriously humbling feeling of accomplishment.
As is the case with any type of work, if you deal with any type of customers or clients, there’s going to be some miscommunication. And while the reaction to my work has been overwhelming favorable, there’s always going to be some hiccups. Sometimes it’s me not fully understanding the client’s needs, and other times it’s on their side. It’s fine; such is life.
I will say, however, that there are some reoccurring issues I see time and again. That’s why I decided for this post to discuss a few of them.
Calling Out Competitors
This is always an interesting one for me. At first, the client seems sure that they want you to call out a few of their top competitors. Whether they’re simply feeling strong or they’re attempting to piggyback on their SEO influence, this happens quite regularly. And I don’t think that it’s coming from a place of malice so much as small business owner ego.
And almost every time without fail, once they see their competition mentioned in text form, they do an immediate 180. I don’t know if it’s seeing it in plain black and white, or maybe a feeling of inferiority to their competition, or possibly even seeing the potential for slander, but more often than not their own request typically freaks them out.
Long story short, if you’re going to have me throw shade at someone else, either commit fully and know that you do X,Y, and Z better than them, or stick to common civility and leave them out.
Wanting Me to Use Existing Content
Again, business owner ego is alive and well with this issue. No matter how poorly written their existing site may be, these types of clients will kick back what I wrote, and instead request that I use what is already available. This is problematic as it raises the question of 1) if it’s already that good, why are you hiring the content work out and 2) without a writing background, how do you know the existing text is effective?
I get it. I’ve worked in my own businesses in one capacity or another. It’s your baby; it’s an extension of yourself. You don’t want to know that you’re doing something wrong, or that something isn’t as sharp as it should be. But at the same time, being your own company means recognizing your strengths as well as your weaknesses and compensating accordingly.
Think of it like this; would people have read Donald Trump‘s book if he didn’t utilize a ghostwriter? This same question can be applied to any celebrity memoir. People who need a book and don’t know how to write one use a writer. In the same vein, those who don’t know how to fill out their website need to sub it out as well.
Not Being Specific Enough
Anyone who works in any sort of creative capacity knows what this feels like. They assume that, even as a content writer, you’re some sort of artist with a blank canvas just waiting to make them a masterpiece. However, in actuality, the process is far less romantic. I’m usually in last night’s pajamas banging out a generic service page for someone I’ve never met. Sometimes in my living room, or if I’m feeling particularly under the weather, from my bed.
This doesn’t stop some clients from requesting several thousand words without any direction whatsoever. They will make claims such as “I trust your judgment” or “you’re the writer” or even “surprise me!”.
I am not a birthday clown. There will be no surprises.
They may go the other way with it, where they provide me what seems like every single word in the English language that remotely may connect to their services in even the slightest capacity, which leads me to…
Lack of Understanding of What Content Does
Many know SEO as the buzzword, but I’m finding that few know what it really is. The short answer is the better your page’s SEO level is, the easier it is for people to find you. For example, if you have a plumbing company, when people have a leak they’re going to head over to Google and simply type “local plumber”. Those sites with better SEO will appear first, which is important as the vast majority of people won’t even pay attention to page 2 of results.
So how do you rank better? There are dozens of factors in place, content being one of them. Google’s crawlers are getting smarter daily, and the main focus is preventing spam and bad info from appearing first. So if your site looks and reads like garbage, you’re probably scrapping the bottom of the search barrel.
Many clients want text to either paint a rosy picture of their business, while others are more or less looking for a biography written. At minimum, your page should successfully explain what you do and services offered, with about a dozen or so relevant keywords.
I want to end this post by once again thanking everyone for their support this last year. As always, if I can assist you with your professional or creative writing needs, I’d love to discuss your job. Be sure to send me an email (below) or hit me up on my Facebook page and I will gladly return your inquiry.