If you are designing a web site for your customers, you want the job to be completed promptly. This will help you better schedule your other clients, it will get you your paycheck sooner and it will eliminate any confusion that might arise from the client blaming you for not hitting deadlines.
One major obstacle that arises when trying to get a web site design completed comes from the client not providing you the content you need. It may be up to the client to provide you with fully developed articles images or descriptions, or at least the materials to get you started. But many entrepreneurs have a lot on their plate and may not prioritize getting this content to you.
This can result in missed deadlines that can tie up your business.
If you are dealing with a client that is holding up the works by not giving you the content you need, there are several ways you can deal with this situation. Here are some valuable tips.
Find the Right Method of Communication
In today’s busy world, we often rely on anything other than the phone to communicate with one another. We rely on texts, emails and direct messaging instead.
The problem with these methods is, they often result in ideas getting lost in translation. Emails are particularly problematic because long chains and attachments can make it easy to miss key pieces of information and other details.
And if you’re trying to get in touch with a client and push them on deadlines, these methods of communication are easily ignorable.
If it comes down to it, it’s best to get a client’s attention through a phone or video call. This will also help to clarify anything that may have been lost in virtual messaging.
When a client doesn’t send content on time, it can be frustrating. However, it’s important to remember that business owners have a lot on their plate. They are not necessarily ignoring you; they may have simply forgotten and/or had to deal with more pressing matters.
Therefore, it is important not to show your frustration when communicating. Being rude may result in you losing the project. Clients may also give your company a negative review that can permanently damage your reputation.
And while you don’t want to be rude, that doesn’t mean you can’t be persistent.
Set aside a time each week for follow up.
You can also send automated emails to ensure you’re communicating on a regular basis. Tools like FollowUpThen, Boomerang and Followup.cc will help you stay on top of clients and make sure you get the content when you need it.
Checklists can also be effective in keeping your clients on the right page. The checklist should be given to them early on and should include all the types of content you need.
When a client provides you with content, put a checkmark next to it. Keep sending the updated checklist to them on a regular basis as a polite reminder to let them know what’s been submitted and what’s pending.
Create a Shared Calendar
A shared calendar can also help to keep everyone on track. You can use a shared calendar to create a repeating event to remind clients to check in. The events can include additional information on what content they should be providing on the date.
Set Expectations Early On
It is important that clients understand you are expecting content from them and that not getting it will hold you up indefinitely. This should be explained early on and appear in written form as well.
For instance, if you include timelines in your proposal, this is a good time to explain that any delay in content could hold up the due dates.
When putting this stipulation in your contract, make sure you do so in a way that makes it easy for the client to find and understand. Don’t bury it in the fine print. You may also emphasize your point verbally.
You can also try and speed up content delivery by including incentives and penalties in your proposal. For instance, you can offer clients a 5% discount on the total project if they deliver content on time.
Penalties are a negative way to incentivize the client to deliver content on time and should be used sparingly. However, letting clients know that the work will be put on hold until the content is produced makes perfect sense. You can also send clients a bill for the portion of work that is completed if the content doesn’t seem to be forthcoming.
A more forceful penalty would be charging a fine for work that could not be completed because content wasn’t submitted on time.
Make Them Understand What’s Expected of Them
Part of the reason why you may not be getting the content you’re looking for is because clients don’t understand what’s expected of them. They may not be sure of what elements to include. This can result in a lack of content or content that comes back unclear or incomplete.
There are several ways you can provide guidance to your clients to help them get back the content you need. Here are a few suggestions:
Visual References: Visual references like wireframes or mockups of how the site will look will give clients a complete picture of what’s required. You can use these to show clients what the final piece should look like including sections for headlines, about us blurbs and other elements.
Video: Video takes visual to the next level. The combination of voice and images will make your requirements abundantly clear.
Web Forms: You may also create a web form for clients submitting content. The form will prompt them to fill in the information you need. While this provides a structure to the content, it has its downsides when it comes to flexibility. It does not allow the client to add any information they feel is relevant that may not have been included in the original form.
Google Docs: Creating a form in Google docs provides more flexibility. Like a web form you can still create text boxes where clients can fill in relevant information, but clients will also be able to edit and add additional content. Google Docs also allows you to add comments so you can communicate directly through the form.
Content Snare: Content Snare is a tool specifically designed to collect content from clients. It provides a central location where you can embed instructions, wireframes and videos. It also follows up with clients automatically saving you from having to follow up on your own time.
Getting the Content You Need
Let’s face it, no matter how much you push clients to provide you with content, and no matter how easy you make it for them to provide you with what you need, some of them are just not comfortable writing text. They may need inspiration to get started.
To get them inspired, provide them with lead in questions. Here are some examples:
- What are your company’s values?
- What is your company’s mission?
- What sets your company apart?
- What is your company’s origin story?
Your lead in questions can be tailored according to the type of content you are looking for in each section.
It’s also advisable to provide copywriting tips for them to follow. Here are some examples:
- Be conversational
- Use short paragraphs
- Think of how your products benefit your customers
- Use call to actions
- Keep your brand voice consistent
This will help them create content that is relatable, engaging and converting.
Invite Your Client in for a Content Writing Session
One way to make sure you get the content you need is to do it with your client.
Figure out a time when both of you can sit down and create the content together. This may be time consuming, but it will ensure you get the content you need when you need it.
It also may make it seem more like a fun project to your client instead of homework. You can capitalize on this by having coffee and snacks available.
A sit-down session will take a chunk out of your day, so you may consider adding a fee for the extra work. A good way to deal with this is to add the option into your contract so clients are prepared for the added expense.
Suggest a Copy-writing Service
Another option you might consider is suggesting a copywriting service. A copywriter will write the content for your client, so they don’t have to worry about coming up with it themselves. They will also have the experience to come up with the right content, and, because they are being paid for their services, they will deliver on time.
Did you know that Real Authority Media creates custom content solutions to assist web designers and small businesses with premium web content? Check out our compete content marketing solutions for more information.
Because a copywriter requires an additional fee, this is something that you should also consider including as an option in your original proposal.
When a client hires you and is not producing the content you need, you may find yourself in a frustrating situation. However, it’s important to keep your cool and understand what may be causing the setbacks. This will help you come up with solutions that will see your project to completion.