The people who request your work—clients or product managers—are crucial partners in the project. But just because you’re working on the same thing doesn’t mean you’re speaking the same language. Here are five things you don’t know that they really wish you did. Read on…
Today’s question comes from Olyvia P. who asks, “I just landed my first freelance client! I’m super excited and want to make sure I do well. Is there anything I should know?”
Most clients and product managers have absolutely no experience being on the other side of the table—that is, they don’t know what it’s like to be a copywriter or designer. And what that means is that they’re trying to relate to you, but they don’t always know how.
The items below are five things that clients and product managers wish you knew—and they’re five things that, once you know them, will make your relationships with clients and product managers immeasurably smoother.
1. They don’t really understand how you do what you do
As I said, the vast majority of clients and PMs have no experience on the creative side. And one of the consequences of that is that they essentially have no idea how you actually do your job. They don’t know how you come up with the ideas and lines that you do, and they don’t understand how you cull through what doesn’t work to find what does.
What all of this means is that you shouldn’t be afraid to explain your process or your choices. You can’t assume that they know what when into creating your copy.
Now, you don’t have to explain it if it doesn’t come up, but if they’re looking for some insight, lay it out for them in layman’s terms. Words like “concepting” and even “benefit to consumer” may be a little bit foreign, so don’t assume.
2. They want your input—and sometimes even guidance.
Even though your client/PM doesn’t understand how you create copy, they still respect your skills. Often, very much so. This means that they’ll be looking to you as the professional to help them make decisions.
Don’t be afraid to let them know what your recommendations are. Even those recommendations aren’t taken, they’ll still be valued. You may even find that your freelance clients need your input, but also your guidance. They may not know what the best thing to do is, and they’ll be looking to you.
3. They can’t picture things.
Designers and copywriters can talk together about how they imagine a layout coming together without putting pen to paper and mouse to screen. However, you’ll find that many clients and PMs don’t operate in the same way. They may understand what you’re saying but, often, they won’t be able to picture it.
This isn’t true of absolutely every client or Product Manager, of course, but it’s true of enough that I wanted to be sure to mention it. Instead of trying to describe things to your client/PM, you’re much better off showing it. If your designer can put something in layout—great. But you may even find that sketching helps. Don’t expect your client/PM to think with the same kind of mind you do. Help them by showing them what you mean.
4. They give suggestions because they don’t want to offend you.
If you’ve ever been in a creative review where the client/PM told you what was wrong with a project and then suggested a multitude of ways to fix it, you’re not alone. This happens a lot.
Partly, this happens because they have ideas they want to share. But another reason this is so common is that some clients or Product Managers feel bad identifying a problem without helping you come up with a solution.
How do you fix this? Just let your client/PM know that the best way to give you feedback is to identify what’s working and then let you come up with the solution. More often than not, your client/PM will be relieved.
5. They’re amazed by what you’re able to do.
They don’t understand how you do it…but they sure like the results. Especially if you’re someone for whom writing comes naturally, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t come naturally to most people. And that includes your clients and Product Managers.
You have a talent and set of skills that can be downright amazing to clients and PMs. Out of thin air, you came up with just the right words to make a project work. And really, that is amazing. When they praise your work, or even just thank you, take it to heart: They mean it.
Your turn! What have your interactions with clients or Product Managers been like? Let us know in the comments below!