followup: the other half of the equation

Royal TypewriterOver on The Copywriter Underground (which should be part of every freelance writer’s complete nutritious breakfast), Tom Chandler reminds us about the importance of client feedback.

And we’re not talking about editorial comments before going to press — we’re talking about taking a hard look at the effectiveness of the piece once it’s published. Did your advertising copy bring in new customers? Did your feature article generate letters to the editor? Did people find your report to be informative and useful? And how can you find out?

The writer’s job isn’t done when he or she sends a final draft after the last round of edits. It isn’t done when the check arrives (or even when it clears). A good freelancer wants to know how his or her little one is faring in the world after being pushed out of the nest.

I’ve had some managers misinterpret my interest as writerly vanity, and even as insecurity. “Don’t worry about it,” a marketing manager once told me, in soothing tones. “It was a good piece. I’m sure people will like it.” What bothered me more, though, was when I explained why I was interested, she replied that it wasn’t important for the writer to know how well the piece performed.

Actually, lessons abound for the writer. And an important part of the writer’s job is to learn them. Your insistence will — eventually — open your editors’ eyes, and get them thinking differently about the performance results of your copy. Next time, they will be more able to fine-tune your assignment so that it’s as good a performer as it can — and should — be.

Finding time for a followup call or e-mail can be hard. I’m often guilty of it myself. But I’ll redouble my efforts to follow Tom Chandler’s advice to put a note in my calendar and call my editors.

Think of it this way: it’s another way to show your professionalism — that you care about how well your work serves your client’s needs.

Author: Paul Lagasse

Paul Lagasse provides expert-to-expert communications services to nonprofit, business, and government clients in the metro Baltimore-DC area. Specialties include science and medical writing, technical report editing, and content marketing.

3 thoughts on “followup: the other half of the equation”

  1. Thanks for the link! I might point out that a sending a followup e-mail checking on the effectiveness of a project is good business — but it’s also an excellent time to suggest a new marketing project.

    For example, if you wrote an article for a company, suggest they reprint it (after publication) and send it to prospects and customers. You offer to write the cover letter.

    That sort of thing. Great way to give repeat business a nudge…

  2. Freelancers should also be careful to listen to what the client expects BEFORE they take the job. As a copywriter, I’ve often been told that the goal of my copy was to “get about a thousand new clients overnight.” I am many things, but I am not a magician.

  3. @Tom — You’re very welcome. Great point about using the follow-up as an opportunity to make a pitch. I’ll have to use that more aggressively myself. I usually let them know that I’m available for more work as needed, which often elicits a positive reply.

    @Quinn — Very true. Would asking questions designed to elicit specifics from your clients up front help in any way to “modulate” pie-in-the-sky expectations?

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