As a writer, your time is money.
Thus, waste less time = make more money.
One of the biggest time wasters is going back and forth with a new client over all of the minutia of your new gig. There are questions that need asked and answered, documents that need signed, and details that need ironing out.
I’ve wasted a lot of time corresponding via email with new clients so far in my writing career—but one day I decided it was time to work smarter, not harder.
The little floating light bulb above my head (that’s usually dark) went “DING!”
So today, I wanted to share the one email I send to new writing clients that does all of the things I need it to do to make the getting started process fast, efficient, and uber-professional.
I encourage you to steal this format and use it for yourself—I’m happy to share.
1. Attach and ask for the appropriate documents.
Most of the time, new clients want you to send them a few key pieces of information:
- Your current W-9
- A few samples of relevant work
- In some cases, a signed NDA
As the writer, you need a few key pieces of information, too:
- Existing style guides
- Marketing personas
- Examples of content/writing styles they admire
- List of main competitors
- Any key pieces of research or stats they want worked into content
If your client really has their stuff together, they’ll have a nice “Getting Started” deck for you that outlines all of these things in a consolidated format (more on that here.)
2. Share the details of your process.
Since the client hasn’t worked with you before, they want to know what to expect from your process. I always share:
- Rates per word count/project (if we haven’t discussed this in depth yet)
- How many edits are included in the price (and what addt’l edits cost)
- Normal turnaround time per project
- Payment process (initial deposit details, processing fees, when I invoice, how it should be paid and when)
- Best way to reach me (I make clear what hours I keep and what time zone I work from)
3. If the client wants me to pitch a few ideas for a content piece, I include 5-8 options in this email based on the initial phone conversation we had.
4. Any remaining questions & Request for first due date
The final thing I include is a two-fer:
A FAQ section that addresses some of the questions I’ve been asked over and over. These questions range from my policy on accepting checks as payment to other writers I can refer if they need additional writing support.
Request for first due date. If I’m pitching ideas, I want the client to give me an idea of how soon they’d like to see a first draft turned around so I can prioritize the assignment in my to-do list.
I always close with a gracious thank you for working with me, because these clients are the ones who enable me to work from home in my pajamas with my sweet dog right by side. And that’s something I appreciate every single day. Except I don’t tell them about the home part and the pajamas and the dog. I just say thanks.
This email checks so many things off both parties’ lists—and it will enable both you and your client to get off to a swift start with the new project.
Again, please steal this format and use it for yourself. You’ll be glad you did.
I think information sharing is a beautiful thing, don't you think? If you have more questions, tweet me over at @kaleighf.
This article originally appeared in my newsletter, A Cup of Copy. Sign up and get these free tips sent right to your inbox every other Wednesday.