Anyone who works freelance knows what it’s like to get feedback on their work.
You put your heart and soul into someone’s project. You research, you come up with ideas, concepts, you draft, you edit, you edit some more. Eventually, you’re ready to press send on that first draft, and pretty much every copywriter (and every other creative freelancer) I know will tell you the nerves that go with that never change.
You wait for their reply. You wouldn’t have sent it unless you thought it was good, but you never know what your client is going to think. And when that reply drops into your inbox you take a big deep breath before opening it.
Sometimes feedback is given well. Sometimes it isn’t.
Badly given feedback can be hurtful to your freelancer (we’re only human). But more than that, it doesn’t help us to get the work any closer to the end result you actually want.
Here’s how to give great, constructive feedback on your freelance project:
There’s no need to be offensive or personal about things you don’t like. You’re dealing with a human being, so be polite.
The more specific you can be the better. Tell us exactly which bits you don’t like – or if it’s the whole lot, give a few specific examples. Saying ‘can you make it pop more’ doesn’t really help us. We probably think we’ve made it pop already so we need to understand your idea of what ‘pop’ means.
If you have an idea of what you’d prefer, tell us. We know you’re not a copywriter/graphic designer/web designer/illustrator so we can polish your ideas up to make them fit, but it’ll help us get a closer idea of what you want.
If someone else has a site that you like (and you didn’t already tell us about it when we did the initial brief) – send us a link. Sometimes this is the easiest way for us to understand what you’re trying to get at.
You might not like what we’ve drafted because you’re not the target audience. You’re the business owner. Those are often two very different types of people. We’re focused on appealing to them, not you.
Read through your comments and think ‘will this make sense to someone who isn’t in my head’? Sometimes comments are added to a document really quickly and when your freelancer opens and reads them they struggle to work out what they mean. Be as clear as you can.
It’s best if comments are given on the document itself rather than in a separate email (unless they’re very broadly about the whole piece).
For me, reading criticism of a piece will always sting. It’s just who I am.
But the fact that I care about the work I’ve produced for you is what makes me a good copywriter, so that sting is a good thing! And besides, it always passes after that first read, leaving me clear and focused on working through the feedback to produce better copy. Find out more about me and my work here.