Clients are a varied bunch. Some of them are easy, and approve your work with minimal changes. Some of them, though, change their minds constantly, change the project constantly, and make you go through round after round of revisions. Let’s talk about how to deal with that second group, shall we?
Picture this scenario: You have a client that you’ve been working with for about a month. You’re happy to have this client—of course! But it seems like something isn’t working in the relationship. You have the project nailed down and then…your client changes their mind when you’re halfway through the project. Or, worse, after you’re done the client wants to add things that weren’t in the original request. (Not only will this increase your time and frustration, but it won’t have accounted for what you quoted in your bill.)
Here’s what to do.
Managing Client Expectations…And Yours
It’s very rare that a client is going to approve your work without any changes at all. You’d have to be a mind-reader for that to happen: You can do your best work, but you can’t know what’s in your client’s mind.
However, you know you’ve got a problem when you’re going through round after round after round of revisions. You’re either not delivering what your client wants, or your client isn’t sure what he wants. Let’s talk about how to deal with both of them.
Start Every Project with a Creative Brief
The first and best way to avoid this problem from the outset is to make sure you have a creative brief for the project. This helps your client organize what they want the project to be, it helps to make sure you both understand and agree on the key points of the project, and it defines the scope of the project.
When you both go into a project with a clear understanding of a project and what it entails, there’s much less chance of landing in multi-revision purgatory. Also, if your client asks you to add in work that wasn’t part of the original project, you can point back to the creative brief to remind them that the new request is out-of-scope and will require another project cost estimate.
(But you’ll say nicer it than that, of course.)
Empower Your Client to Give You Feedback
If you’re still experiencing lots of rounds of feedback, you need to examine the feedback you’re getting. Sometimes the problem can be that your client simply doesn’t know how to give good feedback. Giving (and receiving) feedback is a skill and sometimes we haven’t practiced it enough.
Clients often fall into one of two camps: the let-me-do-your-job-for-you client and the I-just-know-it’s-not-right client.
The Let-Me-Do-Your-Job-For-You Client
As creatives, we know that the best kind of feedback is to tell us what’s not working and why—and then let us come up with a better solution. Some clients don’t understand that, and think it’s their job to offer a solution if they’re going to offer feedback.
In this case, it’s a matter of making your client feel comfortable giving you feedback and letting you come up with a solution.
Other clients may simply feel uncomfortable giving feedback at all, and may give only half responses or respond with, “Well, I don’t know…” Both of which, of course, aren’t at all useful!
You may find it helpful to emphasize that you “look forward to any and all feedback” and that you’re “happy to make any edits or changes.” This can help a client feel comfortable with asking for what they want.
You can also ask them to tell you what they like about the copy in addition to what they don’t like. Seeing what areas they are drawn to may help you ask follow-up questions like. Is it the voice you like here? Is this other section not quite hitting the right voice?
No matter the kind of feedback, it’s crucial that you always fully understand the feedback and the thinking behind it. Don’t be afraid to ask your client plenty of questions and really dig into what they’re asking for.
After all, if you don’t understand the feedback, you won’t be able to execute on it well…and you’ll end up in round after round of revisions.
On episode 116 of the Build Your Copywriting Business podcast, Nicki and Kate dig into how to handle negative client feedback like the professional copywriter that you are. First, feedback on its own isn’t negative. It can feel negative if a client doesn’t absolutely love your first round of copy, but know that this is a collaborative process.
But, if your client isn’t thrilled with your copy, this is how you can make sure you get on the same page and can finish the project on a high note.
Have you had a project that turned into multi-round purgatory? What happened? Let us know in the comments below!
Last Updated on October 27, 2023