Writers Worth: The Quality Factor

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As we wind down this year’s Writers Worth Month, I thought it would be appropriate to look at ways in which we can improve our own opinions of ourselves. When I think of the message I want to send to clients and prospective clients, one word keeps coming up:


Nothing says more about who you are and what you’re worth than the quality you bring to the job. It was important enough for me to add it to my book Marketing 365:

213. Stick with quality.

Start being remembered for the value you bring – increase
the quality of all content you generate. Make every communication with your
customers and prospects both relevant and useful. They have to relate to what
you’re saying and selling, and it has to have a practical application to them.

That means you need to know your customers and know what it
is they want or need. Now is the time to do your homework and ask questions.
Then give them what they’ve asked for. Every time.
So how do you exercise quality exactly? Try these ways:
Ask great questions. I’ve mentioned this before, and it bears repeating: when you ask smart questions, you get to know exactly what your clients want. Imagine handing in that first project and nailing it — how much does your stock go up when that happens? Plenty. Pay attention, take notes, hit the tape recorder. Your client knows what he/she wants. If you listen, you’ll know, too.
Bring more to the conversation. Don’t just arrange to talk to a client about a project; make sure that talk includes your full knowledge of their business. How impressed will they be when they’re telling you about work they need for ABC business unit and you ask “Are you looking to align this message with that of your DEF business unit?”
Give beyond what’s expected. I tend to give editors sidebars where and when I can. They don’t expect the additional content, and they usually end up using what I send. You can do the same for editors, and for clients. They want a website revision – why not give them that plus copy for a page that’s missing? You wrote the white paper, so why not create a few graphics to go along with it? Not that you have to suddenly become a designer, but where it’s not going to take too much time, give them an added value.
Give thorough updates. That project is two months long. Do you accept it and get back in touch when you deliver? Keep your client in the loop — I like to give weekly updates (where necessary) letting them know what I’ve done and what’s next. That helps because they can see progress, and they can be involved in your process. Plus it keeps you on the same page. I like to give bulleted lists, like one I sent a client two weeks ago that listed what I was doing and asked if there was anything missing.
Writers, how do you deliver quality to your clients?

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  • Cathy Miller May 27, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    Great point, Lori. Worth goes hand-in-hand with quality. When you care about you work, it's easy to discover your worth.

  • Lori Widmer May 27, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    Exactly, Cathy. You have to care enough to jump in with both feet.

  • Paula May 27, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    I can't believe Writers Worth Month is already coming to a close in just a few days.

    When I turn something in, I usually ask the editor if they need anything else, or want me to follow up with publicists about photos. It's very seldom they do, but the appreciate the offer.

  • Lori Widmer May 27, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    Good suggestion, Paula. It may not be needed, but it's sure appreciated!

  • Anne Wayman May 27, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    I ask for feedback from the client… essentially asking if they are getting what they want and what the expected.

    When a client isn't happy, it no longer hurts as much as it did in the beginning. I'm confident of my skills which makes life so much easier.

  • Georganna Hancock M.S. May 27, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    I have only one gear – the best I can do.

  • Eileen May 27, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    For a couple of my clients, I add value by identifying stock photo images that will support the copy I write for landing pages and email promotions. I just go to shutterstock.com or istockphoto.com, find images that will work, and add a note in the copy telling them the file number and vendor. I also write a caption for the images. This is easy and fun for me, and it's one less detail the client has to handle.

  • annk May 27, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    Like Eileen, I try to think of other tasks that I can do relatively easily that will help the client–finding or providing images, suggesting other readers/audiences, providing contact information for other professionals whose services will be required before completion of the project.

  • Lori Widmer May 27, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    Georganna, your gear is fabulous too, I bet. 🙂

    Eileen, great idea, as well. By doing the legwork, you show initiative.

    Annk, I like the idea of providing contact info for other professionals. I'm asked a lot for publishers, printers, you name it. Smart to offer it up front!