When another entrepreneur or small business owner chats to me or reaches out about my writing and assistant services, one question always enters my mind.
How do you make sure you get to grips with what this client actually wants?
The answer comes down to one word, friend.
Poor communication is a deal breaker. It can make a project take longer, it can leave you feeling overwhelmed and it can negatively affect the whole client experience.
Great communication, on the other hand, keeps your processes running without any problems, makes sure that you stay on track and means that everyone is happy.
This is not only true for businesses - but bloggers as well.
This is something I’ve really honed in on recently. So today, I’m not just going to show you how to make sure get all the details you need about an upcoming project. I’m also going to give you some super helpful tips for improving communication across the board. Let’s go!
#1 | TAKE PLENTY OF TIME
If you have a chat with a potential client about what they want from a project, or you’re chatting to someone about writing a guest post, be sure to provide them with plenty of time. You don’t want to rush things.
The first thing I do for a potential client at the outset of a project is give them a questionnaire to fill in and I make sure to tell them they can take as long as they need to fill it in. I then provide a free 30-minute discovery chat or call for all my potential clients. This enables me to ask all the right questions to get as much detail about the project as I need.
But even if you don’t offer services, this still works really well for guest posts. If you’re guest posting on someone’s blog, be sure to take the time to ask them as many questions as you want to you create the content just right. And if there’s someone guest posting on your blog, dedicate time to giving them feedback and working with them to help their ideas come to life.
Not only will this help you build relationships, it will also create a little anticipation and excitement about the project you’re both working on.
If you’re struggling to know where to start when it comes to things like this, maybe you need a process in place. This ensure that whenever someone gets in touch with you, you have certain steps to follow. It’ll make everything much more streamlined and efficient.
#2 | EXPLAIN THOROUGHLY
Sometimes, we get so used to our own processes that we forget how different it could be for other people. We each work in our own unique ways - what if your process is totally unfamiliar for some people?
In order for my clients to respect and follow the steps in my process, they have to understand them. This can be stripped right back to your blog. When people learn how often you publish content, they respect you more and become more loyal. This is where great communication comes in.
You might not think you need to explain certain things to your clients or other bloggers, but the best thing you can do is go into detail and cover every angle. Be patient and transparent. One way I’ve done this is by including the key points of my process on my services page for all potential clients to see.
It’ll benefit you so much if you take the time to explain the details of your processes, from word count to images, constructive feedback and so on.
This helps you look more professional so your clients and other bloggers will take you more seriously. Not only that, but a thoughtful, structured process also increases trust and the fact that you’ve taken everything into consideration will make a huge difference.
#3 | PROVIDE A PERSONAL TOUCH
The more personal you make something, the more special it feels.
Last month, I introduced a new strategy to my mailing list - each time someone replied to one of my weekly letters, they got a point. The person who had engaged with me the most during the month won a prize, something like an Amazon voucher, Starbucks gift card, book etc.
Not only is this unexpected, but it also reminds my readers how special they are, how much I value them and the fact that I actually want to communicate with them (which can be few and far between with all the salesy content out there right now).
So, consider ways that you can give back to your readers. It could be through a giveaway, or a competition similar to mine that you could do through your comments section or social channels. Or it could be something creative you come up with on your own. Think about what you offer as a blogger or business owner and think of ways you can create a more personal touch for your readers or clients.
We also work more effectively and procrastinate less if we’re working towards a set deadline.
I’m currently putting together a guest post schedule for May/June and July/August. For everyone that’s said they want to write a piece of content for me, I’ve made sure to give them a deadline. Then this week, I’m planning to email them with more information to let them know when their post is going live.
This not only provides myself and my guest posters plenty of time to actually get everything sorted, but it also allows me to check in with my guest posters along the way to see how they’re getting on and whether they need any help. If they’re struggling, I’ll send them a friendly reminder and a bit of encouragement.
#4 | SET EXPECTATIONS
You are responsible for the communication on a project. You can’t blame anyone else - it’s down to you. Something I’ve made sure to do right from the offset to help this is set expectations.
I’ve recently created a welcome packet that I send to each new client that decides to work with me. This outlines exactly what I do and why I do it, but it also outlines what I expect from my clients and what they can expect from me.
They might have worked with someone before, but the likelihood is that the process may have been very different.
Give people timelines. Give them due dates. Give them your office hours Tell them when you expect things and when you’ll be available.
One of my values is to under promise and over deliver, so I make sure to do this before the project begins and keep them posted on each and every step of the way as I keep ticking tasks off.
As I’m getting towards the end of my lists of tasks for the week, I remind them of this and ask when they want to schedule a chat or call to go over my next list tasks. When we have this meeting, I make sure to ask them where they’re up to with their blog or business, what else they’ve got going on and what they’re focusing on right now. This means I have a clear idea of what to prioritise and what tasks are going to help them reach their goals.
If you’re having trouble getting people to respond to you, you need to make sure you set some expectations. Don’t just do it as the first thing - this is something you do throughout the whole process. Explain everything, back up your decisions and educate them along the way.
#5 | BE A FRIEND
Some of your clients may not have worked with anyone before, just like some bloggers may have never written a guest post before. They’re going to be feeling nervous and unsure about everything. They don’t know what is and isn't the right thing to do.
That’s where you’ve got to be a friend.
You’ve got to be two things: reassuring and encouraging. If they think they’re asking a stupid question, be sure to provide them with a detailed answer and say they’re always welcome to ask any questions. Or if they don’t know what tasks to delegate to you, take time to go through their processes and see where you can help. Be patient. Walk them through it.
Because while you think your job might be to just provide a service and that’s it, this is actually the perfect opportunity to not only get some great feedback, but to also creating a lasting relationship that goes beyond the project you’re working on. Your actions and words with the way you treat people can go a long way.
And when you make a mistake or mess up a part of the process (because mistakes happen to each and every one of us) - people will be much more likely to show empathy if you’ve been patient with them and supported them along the way.
Communication is usually a two-way street - but someone has to take responsibility.
If you take the right steps to provide the best experience possibly by providing time, explanations, personal touches, expectations and friendships, you’ll ensure that your communication is consistently fantastic.
How do you ensure that you get to grips with your clients or readers actually want? What tips have you got that have helped you improve communication?
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