7 Questions to ask before accepting a freelance content writing assignment
For many professionals, working from home may be a new experience occasioned by the pandemic. However, it is just another day in the life of freelance writing professionals who contribute to content marketing. Most of them have been working for clients from their home office and carry out their work based on remote coordination.
Content creation companies make sure that an appropriate brief is provided to writers while assigning them a task. But writers can make their content writing experience smoother by asking some key questions at the onset. There are a few ground rules about content writing that you need to know before starting any writing assignment, and getting clarity from the client is the best way forward.
- What is your expectation of my availability?
If it is a one-off assignment, confirm the deadline with your client. If it is an ongoing project, try to determine how the assignments are planned in their content calendar. With this knowledge, you can calculate how much time you will need to allot to the project. It will also help you efficiently distribute your available time among various clients.
- What kind of research am I expected to do to create this piece – primary or secondary? If primary, will you be providing any support?
It is vital to get some clarity on the level of research required. If you are expected to do primary research, you should determine if the client has specific instructions. Besides, it is advisable to ask the client if they can share any information. The time and effort estimation should be made based on these factors. Client preferences on sources should be ascertained in case of secondary research as well.
- Who are your major competitors, and how is your company different?
Clients make use of blogs and articles as a part of their content marketing strategy. Therefore, the writer should be well-informed about the client, their business, and their niche in the market. Inquiries should be made about the companies whom the client consider as direct competitors. You should start writing after analyzing the content generated by these competitors. This will help you to create bespoke content for the client that will stand out among the competition.
- If my piece will be published online, will I get credit in the form of a live link to my website?
Your piece may be either uncredited or credited. Sometimes, a client may insert a generalized term like ‘editorial team’, ‘content team’, ‘news desk’ etc. instead of the writer’s name. You may get a byline in your name, but you may not be able to reproduce it elsewhere. Either way, you can inquire about the possibility of getting some publicity for your work. A credited piece on a recognized web portal can enhance your professional résumé.
- What is your budget for this project?
You should be clear about the commercial aspect of the project before you accept it. The budget for the project would depend on the client’s content marketing budget as well as the client’s valuation of your writing. To make money from freelance writing, bear in mind that your time is the major investment. You would have your monetary expectations for the time you spend. Based on the client’s budget, you can go on to accept a project if the remuneration is in line with your expectations.
- Who is the target audience?
Content cannot be effective unless it appeals to the intended audience. Therefore, it is vital to know who your readers are. The audience of a press release would differ from that of a blog, just as web content would differ from a thought leadership article. When you have clarity on your consumer persona and their reading patterns, you will be better placed to create engaging content. For instance, if you are demystifying a banking product for those living in tier-II towns, you would need to follow a specific writing style. On the other hand, a write-up targeting prospective customers of a premium credit card in a metro city would call for a different choice of language and presentation. You may need to draw up a style guide on how to get your blog noticed and strive to make the project more TG-oriented. Alternatively, you can ask the client to provide you with the same.
- What is the aim of the content generated?
A content marketing campaign may aim to sell products, direct more traffic to a web page, or be educational/informative. While writing a piece, you should find out what the greater goal of the project is and how to measure content marketing success. Accordingly, your content should be moulded to achieve such goals. If the client has SEO aspirations, you must familiarize yourself with keyword targeting, and their positioning and density. You should also confirm if there are additional expectations from you regarding SEO-related activities, such as identifying keywords or onsite optimization.
By getting answers to the questions listed above, you will find out if a certain assignment fits your expertise, what level of research is expected of you, whether you can allocate sufficient time to the assignment, and other such key determinants. By asking the right questions beforehand, you will be able to avoid confusion while taking on the writing job and minimize the need for rework.
Contributors: Saurabh Saxena, Sanchea D’Souza, and Swapnil Adsul