13 Time-Saving Tips for Client Revisions
That's why I'm sharing these writer-proven tips that have made the revision process easier for me as an in-house, agency and now freelance writer. (Look for a * by those that can even eliminate the need for revisions.)
Discourage endless rounds of changes. If you're a freelancer, make it clear in your original budget how many sets of revisions are included in the fee you're quoting. Then include an hourly rate for revisions that go beyond what's in your quote.
Know your audience of approvers*. Get input from everyone who will approve what you've written before you start writing. Your key contact may not be the only person who signs off on what you're writing.
Request a creative brief*. This information is for both you and those approving what you've written. It's the roadmap for your deliverable.
Ask plenty of questions. Even the best creative brief probably won't include everything you want to know. Get more background information than you'll need right from the start. Clear communication at the beginning of a project helps avoid revisions later. Then once you hit the revision stage, ask questions to clarify the changes requested.
Use a writer's checklist. It's a useful tool that reduces revisions by helping you make sure you don't miss what's missing.
Set the stage before submitting your copy/content. Remind your approving reader of what he or she is reading and why. Include a header with company/brand name (who), project name (what), project objective (why), date(s) of delivery and revised versions (when), and special notes (e.g., keywords). You may also want to also attach the original creative brief.
Have reasons for what you write. Often the need for making a revision disappears when you can explain why you said something the way you said it.
Give it a rest. Write, set it aside for 24 hours, revisit, THEN submit what you've written for approval. You're more likely to catch typos and missing pieces of key information.
Read it aloud. You'll hear things you don't see.
Start early. Move projects with revisions to the top of your daily To Do list. Tackle them first thing in the morning before your brain gets buried in phone calls, emails and other writing projects.
Ask for specifics, not generalities. "I don't like it" doesn't help you understand what needs to change and why. Ask for specific feedback. Are the facts wrong? Is something missing? Does the tone or vocabulary not fit the audience? Are the most important features and benefits explained clearly?
Show your words in place*. Whenever possible, work with the designer/art director to show how your headlines, subheads, sidebars and body copy work with the visuals to communicate the message. This applies to everything from landing pages and emails to space ads and direct mail packages. Copy shown in place looks polished and published. This one step can eliminate a lot of revisions.
Copy by committee. As the old adage goes, "Too many cooks spoil the broth." Writing copy by committee is rarely a good solution ... even though it's tempting when you're receiving revisions from multiple sources. Ask for revisions to be synthesized by one point person responsible for giving them to you.
And a final note on rewrites vs revisions: If you've written a draft based on the original requirements and input provided by your client — other than minor changes — you've done your job. If a client significantly changes the parameters of the deliverable, it's not a revision. It's a new project and calls for a new budget.