Helping Your Clients With Web Content – What to do When They Don’t Have a Clue

By Katie Daggett

(Note: This post originally appeared as a guest post on the Creative Freelancer Blog.)

Things are good. You’re designing a site for a new client. And they’re loving everything you’ve done… so far.

But, the time has come to plug in the copy. So, you send the email or make the call to your client asking them to send the copy over.

And you’re met with silence. Or, you get a pile of old brochures and some scribbled notes that would take you hours to make into usable content.

Or even worse, you get a response along the lines of, “But, we thought that was something you would do.”

The project stalls.

Finally, in a desperate attempt to get the project moving (so that you can get paid), you give in and spend hours piecing together their piecemeal copy yourself.

Hours that weren’t in the budget, and hours you likely won’t be paid for.

If you’re “lucky”. The client does have content to give you. It works. But, you know that it isn’t all it could be. You have a sinking feeling that the copy you’re plugging in won’t attract the audience, or drive the sales, that your client is expecting from their website.

So, what’s a self-respecting web developer to do?

1. Set Expectations

If you don’t have a copywriter on staff, or don’t offer copywriting as a part of your web development services, make sure that your client knows that up front. During your initial conversations, be sure they understand that they will be responsible for creating the copy, and ask how they are planning to provide it to you. Discuss content deadlines early on, so that the client knows when they will need to send final copy to you in order to launch their site on time.

2. Give them Guidance

To help your clients along, be sure to discuss in detail what content they will need to provide for each page of their website. Give them an outline, noting where headlines, subheads, sidebars, calls to action, and other components of each page will be needed. Ask them to send content to you as a single Word document (or whatever format you prefer), to avoid getting disorganized bits and pieces from several company authors, or in the form of various brochures and other marketing pieces that you are required to sort through and pull from. The more detailed the content outline you provide, the easier it will be for you to plug in the copy when the time comes. If the client is clueless, and you’re concerned about quality, you may also want to give them a copywriting guide or checklist.

3. Include Copywriting in Your Proposal

If, as often happens, the client hasn’t given a thought to copy and isn’t sure how they’re going to handle it, it’s helpful to have a network of copywriters to recommend. You can either pass your best recommendations on to the client, or, gather an estimate from a trusted copywriter and include it as part of your bid. If the cost of copywriting puts the project over budget, your client can always strike it out – but at least they are aware that the burden of providing copy is theirs.

Read the rest of this article on the HOW Creative Freelancer Blog