Writing valuable content for clients starts well before you write the first sentence. The ball is already rolling before you open that blank document page or do any client research.
It all starts at the client interview.
What information you gather and how you collect it will shape your content. With the right approach to interviews, you can ensure you'll have enough details to produce quality content for all your clients.
The interview process doesn't have to be a struggle for you or your clients. A streamlined process will put clients at ease and simplify the writing process for you.
Below you'll find our straightforward interview process, broken down into three steps. It's easy enough for both parties to follow while still giving clients plenty of detail. Feel free to use it with your clients or build your own process from this guideline.
Step 1: Choose Your Interview Method
How you interview your clients is almost as important as what you ask them. That's because they may be more comfortable with one type of interview than others.
Of course, you should also pick a type of interview that you can easily accommodate and conduct regularly. It would be best to strive to make it a seamless part of your workflow.
You can learn a lot more about clients by speaking with them directly. An in-person interview (or one conducted over Zoom, Skype, etc.) allows your client to talk freely and for you to ask follow-up questions. Live discussions can result in you getting more thorough information.
Guided Brain Dump
If you can't get your and your client's schedules to align for an in-person video, they can still submit their information via video. Give them a list of questions and ask them to record their answers through Loom or other video recording software.
If videos are out of the question entirely, you can always fall back on a written questionnaire. Write up your questions in Google forms and send them to your client. Written answers don't allow for follow-up questions, but you can still get enough information to write content.
Step 2: Prepare Your Questions
The questions you ask should guide your client through the piece they want you to write. However, there's a balance you need to strike between getting the details you need to write engaging content and not making the client work too much with their answers. After all, they're hiring you because they don't want to write in the first place.
When writing your questions, specific points will always be important to a client's content, regardless of who they are or what industry they work in. They are:
The Purpose of the Piece
What is the central point of the piece? What does the client want it to communicate to readers? Get detailed here because the answer will inform the rest of the content.
A client should be able to summarize the purpose of their content with a few sentences. For example, "The reader is experiencing this problem. Here is how they can fix it." It isn't so much a summary as it is a mission statement.
Specific Key Points
Knowing your client's goal is helpful, but you need more guidance to make the right content. Asking for the key points a client wants to be covered will give you a more precise outline of your writing content.
Be sure to ask if they want any specific keywords added as well. They are essential for SEO ranking.
Things to Avoid
Clients may want to avoid certain subjects or keywords even with seemingly broad topics. Asking what to avoid will help you narrow in on the relevant information they want to convey while avoiding anything that may not apply to them.
You can't make effective content if you don't have the intended audience in mind. Your client will know better than anyone who they are trying to reach with their content.
Demographic information (like age and occupation) will influence your tone. Knowing where the intended audience is in their life can help make your writing more relatable, too.
Your client should also explain how the content will help their target audience. For example, what problem are they facing, and how will the piece solve it?
Call to Action
If content serves to hook readers, the call to action where a piece reels them in. How does a client want to sell themselves to the audience? Why should a reader reach out to them for their services?
You should never assume that a reader will immediately connect the dots and reach out to the client after reading their content. A well-crafted CTA makes a case for the client, explaining how they are different and the specifics of what they can do for readers. If the client wants specific services mentioned, the CTA will focus on them.
Step 3: Conduct the Interview
Getting the information you need from the client doesn't need to be a complicated process for you or them. Whether conducting a live interview or sending them a questionnaire, keep your questions simple. You should strike a balance between getting all the info you need and not overwhelming them with requests.
In the end, the process should be fun for them. If they find your interview process easy to navigate, they're more likely to order more content from you in the future.
The content writing process should be fun for you, too! But if you need help, don't worry: our Content Ninjas can help!
Want to nail your client interviews every time? Click here to access the SME Questionnaire PDF and have the questions you need to ask ready to go.Click here to learn more about hiring our Content Ninjas to interview your clients with you.