Handling your copywriting client’s feedback: 5 do’s & don’ts

Dealing with client feedback can be difficult, but you can minimize the painYou’ve done your homework. You’ve interviewed your client. You’ve painstakingly put together the first draft for some new web copy. And then comes the waiting game.

Sometimes you get feedback right away. Sometimes it takes a few days or even weeks. But when that email or copy review call comes around, it’s a critical moment in your relationship with your client and your reputation as a copywriter.

If you want to keep clients happy and maintain your integrity as a writer, you have to strike a balance. Here’s how.

1. Do research thoroughly.

You can avoid a lot of problems with feedback and reduce the rounds of edits by doing as much research as possible up front. Using a standard copywriting questionnaire for the start of each project can help, but be sure to review and reach out to the client if there are any misunderstandings.

Case in point, I received a questionnaire back from a client once and at first glance, everything looked okay. It wasn’t until later when I was working on the web copy that I realized they’d skipped several questions on their target audience. Without this, it was difficult for me to frame their benefits in the right light. Fortunately, there was still plenty of time in my project timeline to have a short call about their audience.

2. Don’t let the client squeeze out more rounds of edits.

The reason for having a questionnaire and documented process from the start is so the client knows what to expect during the project. Two rounds of edits and a final proofreading is the standard clause in all of our engagement letters, and you may want to adopt the same policy.  This way the clients know this from the start, and understand that anything above and beyond these two rounds of edits will be priced at a separate rate.

3. Do be respectful and listen to their feedback.

As difficult as it may be, the client is allowed to come back and say “This sucks.” You have the option of pushing back (see below), but if you handle this moment wrong, you could lose your reputation and possibly future work from this client.

If the client says that they don’t like it, get specific detailed feedback on which areas are not working for them. The first round of edits is going to be more intensive, so expect that. If they aren’t, push for feedback. It’s better to get it during the first round of edits then be hit with lots of feedback later on in the process that undoes all of your hard work.

4. Don’t be afraid to push back on specific portions of the copy.

Even though you should be respectful and listen (or read) feedback, don’t be afraid to push back on some of the edits if they aren’t making sense. Sometimes clients may have a big difference of opinion on what their web copy should say. In my experience, it’s normally of a matter of them wanting to focus on what they do (the features) instead of what they can do for clients (the benefits).

This is where your detailed web copy questionnaire can come in handy again. You can refer back to it and explain that your choices in writing were based on the information they provided: their target audience, their position in the market, their competitors. If this information is incomplete, you need to ask them to fill in the gaps for the next round of copy but stand by what you wrote based on the information provided.

5. Do develop a gut feeling for your style of great copy.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned as a web copywriter is that there are some things I am great at writing about and there are others that I really suck at. No matter how hard I’ve tried to write web copy for life coaches – it ends up being terrible. Those clients were never happy, and neither was I.

Don’t be afraid to turn down a project or refer it out to someone else if it doesn’t feel right. When you develop a good gut feeling for your own writing style and capabilities, you reduce the criticism of your work. You can take a look at a writing opportunity and instantly know whether or not you’ll be able to deliver your best.

What are your do’s and don’ts for the feedback part of the process? How have you learned to develop a thicker skin?

About the Author ~ Courtney Ramirez

Courtney Ramirez is the Director of Content Marketing Strategy for Endurance Marketing. She’s an SEO Copywriter and content marketing specialist who creates clickable content for clients in both B2B and B2C markets. As a proud graduate of SuccessWork’s SEO Copywriting Certification training program, she geeks out on algorithm updates and content marketing metrics. She’s always in the mood for a good cat-based meme. You can connect with Courtney on Google PlusLinkedIn or Twitter.

photo thanks to Rodger McCutcheon (Auckland Photo News)

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