For many freelance writers, the very thought of hearing from a client after a project is complete is enough to make them cringe in fear.
Yet feedback is exactly what you need if you are to improve as a writer.
In this post, I discuss how feedback helps writers and explain why clients often don’t provide feedback. I also list some techniques that you can use to encourage your clients to give you feedback.
How Feedback Helps Writers
If you’ve ever worked with a good editor, you have some idea of how helpful feedback can be if it’s done right.
An editor can:
- Help a writer improve his or her writing style.
- Make positive suggestions about changes that would improve the quality of the work.
- Provide tips and techniques to help the writer improve.
But editors aren’t the only ones who give helpful feedback. Client feedback can also be helpful. It can:
- Help you to align your writing more closely to the client’s goals.
- Provide you with valuable ideas for future projects for that client.
- Give you a better idea of the client’s voice and message.
As you can see, constructive feedback is a win-win. It benefits both the writer and the client.
Yet, many writers are so afraid of getting feedback that they avoid it when they can. It may be that they’ve been the victim of a critical editor in the past. Or, maybe they are afraid that negative feedback will cause them to lose the client.
It may surprise you to learn that writers aren’t the only ones to be afraid of feedback.
Why Clients Often Don’t Provide Feedback
Many clients are afraid to give feedback. Basically, they’re afraid of how we, as freelance writers will respond.
Here are some of the things they are afraid of:
- Confrontation. Our clients don’t want us to get defensive and they especially don’t want to get into an argument with us. (Even if you would never respond angrily to feedback, remember that they may have dealt with a freelance writer in the past who did.)
- Public complaints. We’ve all read them… The client horror stories. Sometimes, public exposure is justified because it protects other freelancers from scammers and frauds. But sometimes the complaints are unfair and inaccurate–harming the client’s reputation.
- Loss of services. If your client is basically happy, they may figure “why rock the boat? Why should I risk making my freelancer unhappy and having them quit?” Unfortunately, avoiding problems may eventually cause the freelancer/client relationship to dissolve anyway.
- Time. Providing feedback takes time, and our clients are busy people. That’s one of the reason they hire us to do their writing. If the client believes that it is going to be time-consuming, many of them won’t do it.
Luckily, there are some things you can do to encourage your clients to offer you the feedback you need.
Encourage Your Clients to Provide Feedback
If our clients are afraid to give us the feedback we need to do a good job, it’s up to us to encourage them. Too often, writers (myself included) fail to ask for feedback and are then surprised when the client tells us they are moving on.
Here are four techniques you can use to get feedback from your clients:
- Ask for it. When a project is complete, let the client know that you are looking for ways to improve. Ask “how did we do?” Let the client know that you care what they think.
- Send a survey. Some freelancers send out a client satisfaction survey after every project. This approach can seem less threatening for both the freelancer and the client.
- Foster good communication. Above all, maintain a positive relationship with your client. If you communicate often, they are more likely to give feedback.
- Make it easy. The easier it is for your client to provide feedback, the more likely they are to give it. For example, include your request for feedback in other client meetings.
If you ask for feedback, remember to stay calm when you receive it. Even if the feedback is not what you’d hoped for, avoid getting defensive or angry. Instead, work with the client to resolve any problems or issues that they may have.
Do you get regular feedback from your clients? What methods do you use to start discussion?
Leave your thoughts in the comments.