As freelancers we often take on a project from a client and then write that web page in isolation.
But that’s not a very smart thing to do.
Whether you are writing a product category page or a blog post – or anything else – your work is part of a broader strategy.
If you write a product category page, that page will be linked to from other places, and it will have outbound links to other pages too. It will take its place at a particular point within a sales funnel.
If you write a blog post, that post will be part of a content publication plan that is aligned with your client’s marketing plan and calendar.
In other words, whatever you write for a client, it fits into a broader picture.
That’s why, before I work on anything, I ask my client a simple question, “How does this fit into the bigger plan?”
There are a number of benefits that flow from that question:
1. Asking the question makes you look good.
One thing I hear consistently from clients, and not just my clients, is that they love to work with freelancers who display a genuine interest in their business. They really like freelancers who truly want to understand and help.
One way to express your interest in their business is to ask how the project you’re working on fits into the bigger picture. It shows that your interest in their business expands beyond the one thing you are being paid to do.
2. It helps you write a better page, email, newsletter…or whatever.
On the web there is no such thing as a page or an email or a social media update that stands alone. Everything you write will have both inbound and outbound links.
Those links provide a context for the piece you are writing. And when you understand the context, you are in a much better position to do your best work.
And when you do your best work you are far more likely to get additional work from the same client.
3. It helps you decide how much you can charge for the job.
As a rule of thumb, the closer a page or email is to the point of sale, the higher its perceived value, and the more you can charge.
For example, you can charge a lot more for a 500-word sales page than you can for a 500-word About Us page. Why? Because with a sales page the client can count the money coming in from your page and then look at your fee as being a smart investment.
But with the About Us page, there is no direct link to sales and revenue. As a result, the client sees your fee not so much as an investment, but as an unfortunate but necessary expense.
By knowing where your project lies along this continuum, you will get a strong sense how much you can charge. Tip: Don’t focus you career simply on writing About Us pages!
4. It opens the door to additional projects with that client.
When you ask questions about where your project fits into the broader picture, it allows you to identify new opportunities.
For example, if you are hired to write a sales page, and ask how it fits into the bigger plan, your client might start telling you about the email campaign they will use to drive traffic to the page.
At that point, it’s time for your follow-up question, “Do you have a writer lined up for those emails?”
If they don’t, then you’re in a great position to offer your services. You can make a compelling argument that it makes sense for one writer to handle both the page and the emails.
Wrapping it up…
It’s amazing to me that a simple question can make such a difference. But it really can. I have asked this exact question numerous times over the years, almost always to my advantage.
At its most basic level, the question works because it shows you have an interest in your client’s business.
And clients like that.
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