Whether you’re writing materials for booklet printing or deathless text about bathroom fittings, there are some basic rules to article writing. If you’ve got a brain in your head, learn fast. Working with your contacts, your clients and your editors is absolutely critical to understanding their needs, which are providing your income. You’ll find your contracts all have specific markets, business needs, and often come with quite a few requirements for content, style and materials.
Rule 1: Client guidelines deserve respect
You don’t have to be Shakespeare to get work writing articles. You do have to provide good and above all useful materials for your clients. You’re producing the content they use for their businesses. You may be surprised or irritated by some requirements, but there’s a reason for things being done that way.
Your client produces content for huge numbers of sites. They also get the feedback from these sites, which can be anything. The client, not surprisingly, has guidelines based on what their clients want, and in some cases even legal requirements for how information is used, and always SEO considerations.
You, as the writer, may not have a clue what the client requirements are. If an article gets rejected on the basis of going away from the guidelines, whose fault is it that it was rejected? It’s quite unfair to the client to put them in this position.
Respect the guidelines, respect the people, and respect your profession.
Rule 2: Client relationships
Many professionals suffer from a neurosis some call “the assumption of superior knowledge” and other writers call “sheer stupidity”. This strange belief is supposed to be some sort of excuse for making a hideous mess of an assignment. Wrong. As a matter of fact this is about as un-professional as it is humanly possible to be. As relationship management goes, this is roughly the equivalent of spitting in someone’s face as a social asset, guaranteed to sour any relationship in seconds.
The basic processes for successful client relationships:
- Listen to your clients- This is their business, they need to explain their needs, and you need to know what those needs are.
- Don’t guess- Make sure you know exactly what they want
- Issues and unresolved matters– Ask questions, if you’re not sure
- Professionalism- Remember basic courtesies and be professional at all times.
- Some topics can be very hot potatoes- If you think something’s going to be sensitive, say so to your client.
- Critically important- Don’t spring “surprises” on your clients. Always consult before writing a word.
Rule 3: Your obligations to your clients
You enter into a contract with clients to provide your articles. That contract defines your obligations very clearly:
- Your work must be original
- Your work must be of a good standard without errors as far as possible
- You must ensure that the information contained in your articles is correct
Are those obligations unreasonable? No, they’re not. Stick to them.
The client’s interests are your interests. Whether you’re ghost writing the Great American Novel or doing the wording for business card printing, the client comes first, always. Remember that, and you’ll have a great career.
About Guest Author:
Tim Millett is an Australian freelance writer and journalist. He writes extensively in Australia, Canada, Europe, and the US. He’s published more than 500 articles about various topics.