Reshaping Your Client’s Writing Expectations

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I recently finished a fairly lengthy contract negotiation with a new client on a batch of articles he wanted me to write for his spanking new web site. The theme of his site is about personal finance and since he is a capable certified public accountant, I knew that at least he had a strong understanding of the field when we began our negotiations. Still, self knowledge can derail any expert’s plans without valuable input from a writing professional. I must state that the original ideas he had for his site changed dramatically once he began to talk with me. How so? I shaped his expectations by including realistic ideas as well probable outcomes. Any seasoned content writer should be able to do this for his clients. Do you?

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First Problem: Your client may want you to write 50 articles on a variety of subjects.

Questions to ask include:

Do each of these articles fit into the theme of your site? If not, why are they part of the picture?

How long shall each article generally be? Anything above 500 words will usually mean extensive scrolling for your visitors or a link to a second page to continue. Short, pithy articles succeed the most online. Scholarly reports do not. Know your targeted audience.

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My Solution: I trimmed the length of each of his articles down to 350 to 450 words. Any topics not related to personal finance were thrown out.

Second Problem: Your client wants you to source all of your information, that is, include extensive quotes from other sites and periodicals.

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My Solution: Again, this is the internet we are writing for, not some literary journal. Articles written will contain only our own words, however if a quote is mentioned credit will be given by way of a link to another web site, otherwise the quote will be left out altogether.

Third Problem: Unrelated photography will be included and “matched” to various articles.

My Solution: Since I am acting primarily as a ghostwriter, whatever other objects are placed on the site doesn’t concern me. Still, since I want to have a long term business relationship with this individual I tactfully mentioned that certain types of pictures would take away from his site, specifically he could be negatively impacted financially by less than studio quality photographs [when in doubt, hit ?em where it counts: his wallet, that is].

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There were several other minor issues that needed to be addressed and they were handled with ease. The fact that I was honest with the client gave him an opportunity to see that I was looking beyond the original job and looking out for his best interests. A truly professional writer looks at the big picture and isn’t afraid to speak up when necessary. I helped the client make important changes, won the account, and now I am playing a significant part of this man’s success.

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Matthew Keegan is The Article Writer who writes on just about any and every issue imaginable. You can preview samples from his high performing site at

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