Earlier this week, I wrote about why I think that the endless revision cycle is a fish tale that keeps journalists away from content marketing. However, it does happen. Each time I have finished a project that had multiple revision cycles, I realized that in most cases that there were steps I could have taken at the beginning of the project that would have most likely reduced frustration on all sides.
Here are five steps to reduce revisions and the number of revision cycles:
- Make sure that you are clear on the client’s expectations and the scope of the project. Have all parties who will be reviewing the document participate in the kickoff call. If members of the client’s team are not clear about the direction among themselves, ask them to come to an agreement on the deliverable and let you know what direction they decide. Try to stay out differences among the client team if at all possible.
- Write an outline. I have found this to be an essential step in reducing the revisions and increasing my client satisfaction. At the end of the kickoff call, tell the client that you will write up an outline of the deliverable and have it to them to review shortly. If you are working with an agency that doesn’t have this as part of their process, ask if you can do an outline for your projects. This allows the client to see where you are headed before you get hours deep into it and make any course corrections at the beginning.
- Ask any questions that you have before you begin writing. Don’t write a single word until you are clear on the direction. If you have to schedule another call with the client for clarification, do it. The client would much rather take the time up front that receiving a document that isn’t what they were expecting.
- Since tone can often be hard to capture, ask the client for samples of the tone and style that they are looking for. Either from past deliverables or if they are just starting, from other companies whose content they admire. I also find it helpful to see examples that they do not like as well. If the client has multiple examples on their website, ask them to send you links to the content that is particularly effective. Don’t just emulate content on their website without checking since brands often hire a writer because they are not thrilled with their current content and you don’t just want to automatically give them more of the same.
- Write a clause about revision cycles in your contract. One way to reduce endless revision cycles is to ask for a clause in your contract stating the number of revision cycles that will be included in your fee and stating an additional charge for each additional cycle. I have found that the mere inclusion of this clause encourages clients to be more concise in their revision cycle and wrap the project up more quickly.
What tips do you have for reducing the number of revision cycles in content marketing projects? Have any of the above tips worked for you?