Even the most experienced freelance writers get anxious about impending client feedback. Will they like your work? Will it meet their expectations? No matter how talented you are or how closely you follow a client’s brief, you’re unlikely to get it right every time.
Dealing with client feedback and revision requests can be frustrating, but you can turn the situation to your advantage. Here are some tips to help you handle client feedback more successfully and build positive relationships with clients.
Prevent Confusion from the Outset
First, it’s important to start off the right foot. Clear communication at the beginning of any project can help to minimize revision requests. During your initial communication with the client, make sure you’re clear about the client’s goals and expectations.
Own the Feedback
When you receive feedback, it’s important not to panic. Remember: you’re in control. You can now take as long as you want, within reason, to understand the feedback and respond when you’re ready. You can suggest various solutions to the client, or change the copy for your own review. No one has to see your revisions until you’re happy.
If a client isn’t happy with your work and it’s not clear why, you deserve some clarification. Don’t be afraid to ask the client to elaborate. Ask solution-focused questions about what you can do to improve the content. For example:
- What do I need to change for this to meet the brief?
- If I fix this section, will you be happy to sign off?
- What information would you like me to clarify or expand on?
Ask for specific feedback in writing, so you have something to refer to as you make your revisions. You could even keep a file on a client’s feedback for future reference.
Constructive feedback gives you an opportunity to improve your writing. The last thing you want to do is send off an angry message explaining why you’re right and the client is wrong. It’s usually just a lack of communication that has led to a misunderstanding. Take a break. Then come back to your work with a calm attitude and try to see your work from the client’s perspective.
Say “thank you” for their feedback to keep the relationship respectful, even if you disagree.
Instead of seeing feedback in a negative light, remember the following three things to frame the feedback in a more positive way:
- The feedback is about your work, not you. The client is just looking for a solution to improve the work, and you’re part of the solution.
- The feedback is taking you one step nearer toward the moment you get paid for your work. It’s good news, because it’s progress.
- However frustrating the client’s demands may seem at first, you’ll find a solution if you spend enough time with the problem.
Defend Your Work
When you think it’s appropriate, you have the right to stand up for your writing. Remain respectful, but if you think that some of the feedback doesn’t make sense, say why you think this is the case. This is when referring back to the original brief can come in handy; you can explain your choices were based on the information the client provided. If you still disagree, at least you have further clarification and you can try to reach a solution that you’re both happy with.
Don’t Take It Personally
Remember that writing is simply the work you do, and you shouldn’t let any criticisms define you as a freelance writer. Fix whatever is wrong in the best way you can, and then move on to the next project. The client isn’t trying to make you feel bad; feedback is given because the client values your work and wants to continue working with you. You’re being given a chance to improve your work, so let it build your confidence as a writer.
If you feel overwhelmed by the length of the client’s feedback, tackle it in stages. Work through it step by step, focusing on each change in isolation. This will give you a sense of progress. If you can improve one sentence or section, you can sort out 20. It’s just a matter of time.
Leave the Client Happy
It’s healthy to challenge yourself as a writer, but not at the expense of your productivity or state of mind. Get to know your limitations and only take on work that suits your style and capabilities. In the long term, this will reduce the amount of criticism you receive and boost your confidence.
Putting these techniques into practice will result in less stressful situations for both you and the client. You’ll get more enjoyment out of your work, stay in control as a freelance writer, and have many more satisfied clients. And a happy client will always turn to you for future work.
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