Something I’ve learned while communicating with freelance clients is you can never really ask enough questions about the scope of a project. Here are five specific questions that have proven to be immensely helpful.
1. How many versions of a piece do they want to review at once?
This question may seem silly, but trust me, it can save a lot of time if you get this expectation right off the bat. Some people like to have choices; others prefer to watch one piece evolve from version to version chronologically.
Having this determined helps with the reviewing process, particularly if you’re taking on a new type of content.
2. What was the initial concept for x project?
Depending on the stage a project is at when you’re brought in, it may have varying levels of baggage to sort through. This information is something you’ll want to get out in the open as soon as you can to ensure you’re not wasting time with misdirections and/or miscommunications.
Find out what the initial inspiration, vision, and concepts were to better tackle your responsibilities.
3. What is the intended audience for this content?
Along with the concept comes the audience. This is a pivotal aspect of any piece of content, especially if you’re coming into a project that was already in development before you have your hands on it.
Don’t assume you know based on visuals or anything else. Ask.
4. What are the top priorities for x,y,z projects/tasks?
Priorities are another factor that needs to be out in the open right away. Even if you’re trying your best not to make assumptions, the other party may be making their own. To avoid missed expectations, get as clear of an idea of priorities as you can. What project is top dog? Which ones can be worked on between review sessions/while waiting for feedback? Which ones have other stakeholders that need to be looped in along the way?
The sooner you know those answers, the better.
5. Do they have a preference around tense/POV?
Again, this may seem silly, but it makes a huge difference. This step is more particular to fiction writing. If you write a piece in third person past tense, and they were expecting first person present tense, that’s a problem. Of course, they may want to see both versions, but it’s good to get clear on the intended tense before diving into an unneeded version.
This question applies to more business-focused content in the form of pronouns—find out if the piece needs to be in a specific direction. e.g., using “You” “She” “He” “We” throughout the content. This isn’t always particular but is worth getting clear on, especially if writing for an already established brand voice.
Those are my five quick tips for freelance writing. Best of luck out there, and keep writing. They hired you for a reason!