Have you been wondering how to get website content from clients? You’d like it in a timely manner, and you’d prefer it in a seamless way – one that aligns with the voice and the mission the client wants to project. But you’d be happy to have the website content from clients at any level or rate.
And you’re not alone. Getting website content from clients is one of the top issues that most website designers and developers battle on a regular basis.
And the story is often the same:
You bring a new client onboard and have a productive initial meeting. The project fits your skill set perfectly, and your client thinks your portfolio matches what they’re looking for.
After the meeting, you begin work on the project. Everything seems to be running smoothly until you’re ready to add text to the client’s homepage and sales pages. At this point, you realize that you haven’t received anything from the client.
You shoot off a message to remind them, and they reply that they’ll get to it next week. Next week comes, and you still haven’t received anything. You send off another message, trying to get the content without being too pushy.
Several days later, your client replies with a random attachment of a company flier. They tell you to use the text they’ve highlighted in the best way you see fit. The problem is that what they’ve sent you won’t work because it’s out of context and outdated.
Before you know it, a month has gone by with back-and-forth emails that aren’t moving the project forward. At this point, your excitement about the project is gone and you just want to get it done and start fresh with a new client.
This situation is extremely frustrating for web designers and developers (not to mention, clients). And it’s all too common.
In this article, we’ll unwrap this issue and give you seven strategies for how to get website content from clients without struggling.
What’s the Problem with Getting Website Content from Clients?
Have you heard the saying: If you don’t know where to start then you won’t start?
Never fear, I just made it up. But it’s true for many of your clients. They haven’t written the content requested because they don’t know where to begin.
The lack of content from clients is not just about annoying you.
Try not to make the mistake of thinking that your clients don’t respect deadlines or think your time is valuable. Even more, don’t assume that they’re delaying content to stretch out the development process and put off making payments.
Most of the time, the reasons clients don’t deliver content on time has nothing to do with these kinds of reasons.
Perhaps your client just isn’t a great writer or doesn’t know how to produce effective copywriting. Or maybe they don’t fully grasp how important their content is for their website project.
Maybe the client doesn’t have a full understanding of how the requested content will be used, or they think that what they’ve written isn’t all that great. There’s also a chance that they’re waiting on someone to write the content for them, and that person hasn’t turned over the copy.
No matter what the real reason is, it’s important to accurately identify why the content has been delayed. Without knowing the real facts, it’s impossible to address the situation in an effective way.
Will a Contract Help?
A professionally drawn up contract will always help make expectations clear for both parties. In the contract, state:
- The specific types of content that the client will need to produce
- Clear deadlines for content delivery
- The format in which content should be delivered
- Additional fees for content delivered after the agreed upon deadlines
Although it will help for some clients, unfortunately even a contract can’t guarantee that you’ll always receive content on time. You’ll need some additional strategies.
Additional Strategies for Client Content Acquisition
1. Use an Onboarding Sequence of Emails
Onboarding is where you make a new client familiar with how you operate. It’s your opportunity to say to a brand new client:
“Welcome! It’s going to be wonderful working together. You can expect things to happen this way, and from here on out, I’ll be working closely with you while we make this project happen.”
Email marketing providers such as Mailchimp and ConvertKit allow you to set up automated email sequences that you can send to members of your list. This includes new clients that you add as email subscribers.
An onboarding email sequence can be set up however you’d like and will adhere to the conditions and time intervals that you’ve defined. This allows you to request content from clients at regular, agreed upon intervals without needing to send out manual emails to do so.
And for your client, it will help them keep organized and remain on schedule with content requirements.
Of course, an automated email sequence is a tool that you can use however you’d like. The content you include in them is completely up to your personality and creativity. You could even consider mixing up your requests for content with various tips on writing website content.
More on that in a bit.
What’s important right now is that your client gets involved in the creative process, preparing them for when they need to produce and turn over quality content.
An email sequence would look something like this:
1st Email: Welcome On Board
This includes your onboarding message and what the client should expect to happen in the coming days. Also include a schedule for delivery of content.
2nd Email: Send between seven and ten days prior to your first content deadline
“On Tuesday, the 10th, I’ll need the final copy for your site’s About page. As such, I’d like to send you a few tips/articles/examples that should help inspire you.”
Then include special instructions or specs for the content, and conclude with asking if they have any questions.
3rd Email: Send two days prior to your first content deadline
“Checking in to see how your About page content is going? Just reminding you that Tuesday the 10th is the final due date for your text. I’m looking forward to seeing what you’ve come up with and incorporating it into the site design. If you have any questions, I’m happy to help!”
4th Email: Requesting the content on the deadline date
“Good morning! Today’s the day for me to get your About text onto your new website. Please reply with your content and I’ll get to work on it immediately. After I review the content, I’ll let you know if I have any feedback or suggest any changes. I’m excited to see what you’ve written.”
2. Use Content Calendars
Content calendars are simple but effective tools.
Let’s say that the contract you’ve written informs the client that they need to write 10 pieces of webpage copy and provide 30 photo images for their new site. What order should this be done in, and when?
Leaving expectations up in the air is the best way to make sure they aren’t fulfilled. After all, these kinds of projects can feel overwhelming to a client if expectations aren’t properly laid out and put in order.
To solve this, simply open Google calendar and start plugging in specific due dates for every step of the client content creation and delivery process. Then share it with the client. Make sure they add the content calendar to the specific calendar app they regularly use.
It’s also important to include each stage of your web design process. This shows the client that their content work is part of a bigger machine and will help motivate them to meet or exceed their deadlines.
Keep the calendar as detailed as possible. After all, achieving small steps will lead to the large tasks getting completed on time.
A good example would be:
1st Date: Being brainstorming session for About page
2nd Date: Look at other About page examples and gauge their effectiveness
3rd Date: Begin writing your first About page draft
4th Date: Review the initial draft
5th Date: Send About page draft to designer
6th Date: Receive feedback from the designer
7th Date: Review designer feedback and work on updates
8th Date: Send final About page content
9th Date: Receive approval from the designer
3. Put a Project Management Tool to Work
Project management tools aren’t just for your own internal use. They’re actually great tools to use when you’re working with your clients.
A good project management tool will allow you to fully diagram your project around different tasks in an impactful, visual way. It’ll let you create a project that you and your client can access, while allowing you to set due dates, assign tasks, make comments on results, and much more.
Remember to only include the tasks that are your client’s responsibility. Your own detailed tasks can remain hidden on your personal project. Although you may consider including your general tasks, such as “Design the Product Page” so that the client has a clear idea of what’s being worked on and when.
You’ll also need to create multiple status options for assigned tasks, such as:
- Not yet started
- Currently in process
- Pending design approval
- Need help
This way, with a quick glance you’ll know exactly where the project stands and what still needs to be done.
A project management tool helps clients stay organized and on top of what they need to do. It’ll motivate them and make them feel fully invested in the entire process.
Some popular project management tools you’ll want to consider are:
Simply choose the one that best suits you.
4. Start Using Content Forms
Rather than simply telling your client that they need to churn out copy for their Homepage, Product page, About page, etc., set up specific forms for them to complete for each of the pages.
Include fields within each form that walk the client through exactly what they need to deliver. This way, nothing will be forgotten.
But more importantly than that, for a lot of people, writing is much less intimidating when all they need to do is complete a form. It’s not always easy to write effective copy when starting with a blank page and a cursor staring you in the face.
And when your client presses the “send” button, it’ll give them a feeling of accomplishment for finishing an assigned task on time.
To create content forms, you can use Kadence Blocks – the Form Block. This block allows you to easily create a contact or marketing form and style it within the block editor of your WordPress site. It’s the perfect option if you’d like to have the forms right on your business website.
If you’d rather use a form that’s not hosted on your website, Google Forms is a good option.
5. Ask Leading Questions
Often, the issue isn’t that a client doesn’t have the time to meet a set deadline. Sometimes your client just doesn’t know how to sit down and write the kind of content you need for their site.
And if content writing isn’t one of your paid services, what is the best way you can assist without personally writing the content for them?
Start by asking leading questions. Have a questionnaire prepared that helps clients tell great stories about their businesses.
In it, ask these questions:
- What things are unique about your business?
- Why do (or will, if it’s a new business) people choose to do business with you?
- What inspired you to start this business? What inspires you to keep running it?
- When and how did you start it all?
- What three words would you use to describe your business?
- What are the main values you operate under?
- In what ways do you help people?
- What makes your business relevant in today’s market?
- What helps keep you and your business successful?
- What will the future of your business look like?
After a client pours through these questions, they’ll have all the material they need to put together content for their website. The questionnaire should inspire them, help give them the best words to use, and keep them focused.
6. Share Examples of Great Copywriting
For people who need to write good copy but don’t know much about content marketing or effective copywriting, it’s difficult to know where to start.
And while it’s not your responsibility to walk them through a copywriting course, a few examples and tips can be a huge help. You can do this in your sequence of onboarding emails, or with a well-designed and informative PDF that you provide to your clients.
Some important tips to include are:
- Write content that’s conversational
- Consider how customers relate to your services or products, not how you and your business see things
- Focus on benefits rather than features
- Use short paragraphs, three sentences or less
- Incorporate calls to action
- Use power words that convey emotion and drive action
- Be yourself
- Maintain a consistent voice
- Never hide information that readers would find important
- Remain professional yet personal
Then, seek out specific published examples, even if they’re not directly related to your client’s niche. Ask your client to take a look and apply similar principles to the content they write.
You’ll also want to provide them with The Ultimate Website Content Checklist so that they have a solid idea of the overall scope of the project.
7. Don’t Make It Seem Like Homework
Very few people actually enjoy doing homework. And no matter how excited a client is to get their new website up and running, they probably aren’t fans of homework either.
The feeling of having an assignment imposed on a client can stress them out and ruin productivity. But how can you make content requests feel like something other than homework?
The answer is to make it a little more enjoyable and fun.
Consider inviting a client to enjoy a cup of coffee on you, in a quiet coffee house where they can sit for several hours and focus only on writing the needed website content. To be clear, you’re not going to be present during this time. It’s a time you’re creating for them so that they can dedicate time to content creation.
And you’ll foot the bill while they get creative.
How To Get Website Content From Clients While Staying On Deadline
No matter what you decide to do with the ideas presented in this article, remember that you hold the responsibility for your clients’ projects. It’s important to do the best job that you can with every project you get. After all, your reputation will depend on it. And by going above and beyond to help your clients write the best website content possible, your reputation will continue to grow.
Always keep your focus on the best possible end result. Fully explain all of your processes to every client. Inform them that design and content are equally important, and that the end result will be best if the two work together in harmony.
If you’re a good writer, consider offering paid copywriting services to clients. If you prefer not to do copywriting and your client doesn’t know how, refer them to a quality copywriter.
Remember, you have the authority to educate and advise your clients. Don’t be afraid to do it.
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Kathryn Lang believes it is simple, and as an award-winning author and natural-born hopesmith, she shares tips on how to find your why, pursue your purpose, and live a bold, intentional life – always with a dash of twisted encouragement.