There are many anecdotes on working with client revisions of articles and drafts in marketing and digital circles. Most stories highlight that creative ideas are not appreciated and clients ask for irrelevant things.
Today we’ll discuss how to make feedback more efficient and how we deal with client revisions at Rockin’ Robin to make articles better.
Revisions are good for you
The first thing to be embraced by every creative specialist working with clients is that revisions are in fact a very good thing. It’s much worse when the customer can’t even find the time to review the work in detail in order to come up with a couple of words on how to improve it.
In 99% of cases, an expert examining an article for the client will have some afterthoughts, which is absolutely OK. By amending the content according to their ideas, you can greatly increase its value for readers.
However, a chance to improve the work will be missed if there are no revisions. This doesn’t correspond with the interests of the contractor or the client, meaning that you should pursue the maximum number of corrections rather than treating them negatively.
Plan time for revisions
The fact that contractors often perceive client revisions in a negative way can be partially explained by their workflow. In a harsh economic climate with competition, many studios have to survive by lowering prices and attracting a lot of specialists.
This multiplies the burden on corporate specialists and makes meeting deadlines their main task. Interestingly, very few include the time for fine-tuning in the notion of “completing the task”. It’s much easier to think that you are a professional who knows exactly what to do and won’t need any considerable changes. The situation may not be so obvious for the client, resulting in negativity and misunderstanding.
How have we dealt with the problem? First, we realized the drawbacks of constantly attracting new clients and limited their number. This allowed us to focus on the problems of each particular customer.
Second, we spend the time we saved on brushing up the content. This means that we consider an article complete, not when the first draft is finished, but when we make the corrections required by the client. In the end, everyone is happy: we are not disappointed that the work hasn’t been approved immediately and clients get articles of maximum quality.
Despite the fact that revisions are generally a good thing, the process of collecting and analyzing feedback should be subject to certain rules, otherwise the work will plunge into chaos.
One person should generate ideas
We’ve mentioned in our blog that it’s best when managers of a company take part in creating content. These people know the business better than anyone else and they have a ton of great stories. But the truth is that they already have things to do, so marketing staff or outsourced specialists do the writing.
However, a manager should find the time to participate in the process of reconciliation, or at least provide an expert to assess the created content. An important thing is that there should be one single person generating ideas on how to improve the content. We’ve frequently had situations when three, five and even more people were involved in the work on a single article.
This can turn the revision process into a mess. Even ideas from colleagues on one team do not always match their perception of an article. You can rewrite the content endlessly in their way and it won’t get any better. Collective involvement spoils the process of content creation.
When editing and corrections run in circles, competitors that have a better process are publishing one article after another. They may not be ideal, but they’re already online, as opposed to ones that will be published sometime in the future.
Not all revisions are equally good
Another issue to keep in mind is that not all edits are worth making. Correcting typos and rooting out errors is not the job for an expert or manager. Their job is to provide ideas that will help improve the content and specific corrections. Here are some corrections every editor worth his salt will thank you for:
- Links to sources with good factual material
- Ideas on adding new sections that will elaborate more on the topic
- Relevant statistics
- Contacts of experts capable of commenting on the issue
A good editor is capable of digging up some of this data, but some help will make it possible to complete the task earlier and improve it. Here are some edits we don’t think are worth making ever:
- Searching for stop words in an article is a separate matter that doesn’t influence the quality of the content
- Style-related complaints are purely a matter of taste and may affect the content goal, like getting published in particular media outlets
- Correcting typos is the job of a proofreader
- Changing prepositions or word order is a subjective thing that doesn’t affect the quality, but makes the process longer
It’s quite simple: before suggesting revisions, a client should think whether they will actually make an article better and more comprehensible. Edits that are not making an article nicer, lighter and more stylish shouldn’t happen. If, on the contrary, revisions are going to help the editor find new facts and increase the article’s value, this is what you need.
Follow-up is a task for two
Since proposing unnecessary edits is easy, there’s always the temptation to do it and write a comment like “this article is not catchy”. However, it won’t give an editor any clues on how to make it better.
That’s why both the client and the contractor have to work together to improve an article. As the example above made clear, good revisions have one thing in common: they are not easy to make. One will have to suggest statistics, links to sources, some factual material or provide contacts of experts. All of this requires intellectual work, but it’s the only way for the feedback process to work. Otherwise, it won’t make any sense.
Limit the number of revision rounds
In our blog, we explained what helps us to decide whether to take on a client or not. One factor is the lack of respect for the contractor’s time, like requesting too many meetings.
The same is true for the revision process. If an article is not complete after three rounds of edits, there’s something wrong. A topic hasn’t been picked correctly or there’s not enough data. This is a question for the editors, but also those who approved the topic and provided facts. It’s rarely possible to create a powerful long read out of thin air.
That’s why we limit the number of revision rounds to three. If we’ve failed to rewrite it in a way that makes everyone happy, it’s best to postpone it and get to other tasks.
Creating content is not an easy task and comes with a lot of possible complications. However, proper organization makes it possible to improve results and eliminate certain problems. One aspect of good organization is the work with revisions. If a client edits content according to nothing more than taste and a contractor gives them a hostile reception, the prospects are grim.
If, though, a client thinks about how to make an article better, providing the contractor with relevant information, and the latter knows that the work doesn’t stop after first draft, there are much better chances of success.