Writing as a business

Questions to ask before accepting writing gigs

You’ve finally landed a writing gig and can’t wait to get started. However, before you accept, you should read the fine print and understand what exactly the job requires you to do.

Doing so will ensure that the writing project is successful and that you aren’t suddenly faced with any unknown working conditions. Meaning, asking questions during your gig’s interview phase will help you to decide whether that the specific writing gig is the one for you.

Although every writer has several ways to tackle a writing project, it’s always good to know what the standards are. So, let’s look at the standard questions you should ask before accepting any writing gig.

A list of questions to ask your client

1. What is the gig’s budget?

The first question you should ask is regarding the budget of the potential gig. This allows you to judge whether the time and energy required to write your work of art will be satisfactorily compensated. You will also know if your client is willing to negotiate or is stringent.

Some clients even offer alternative plans besides a standard payment. Such as; future book royalties or bylines in a popular blog.

Therefore, knowing where you stand will allow you to make the right decision on whether it’s worth accepting the writing gig or not.

2. Where will you be writing?

Every writing gig is different. As you could either be writing for a blog, ebook, product or even an entire website for example.

Therefore, you ideally want to know which medium you’ll be writing for, from the get-go. As you’ll need this information to determine if you can even write for this particular medium in the first place.

With that said, even if you’re thinking that “writing is writing” and that you can “write anything, just to get the job done” — this isn’t always the case! As for example; some people may excel in writing blog posts, whilst others excel in writing interviews and memoirs, which actually involves having an entirely different journalistic approach to writing, in order to be successful with.

Meaning, as a writer; you should have a niche and you should try to find out if your niche aligns with your client’s content’s niche too, in order to be successful in writing for it.

3. What specific topic you will be writing for?

Now that you know where you will be writing, the next step is to learn what specific topic you will be writing for (not to be mistaken for by a niche).

As not knowing the specific topic could result in the client asking you to produce blog posts for basic uses of air conditioning, all the way to advanced uses of air conditioning in medical research for example. Therefore, knowing the writing topic beforehand can help you to prepare for the job much better.

Some clients may give you links to their business website or send a brief note on what they require from you. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to do some research before going into the gig’s interview. As reading up on these may help you to not only get the writing gig but also prepare you for when you start the job.

4. What are the deadlines?

The next thing you’ll need to know is what your client’s deadlines are. As you may not want to accept writing gigs for clients that expect 1,000-word articles written within 1-hour.

Therefore, asking for a deadline from the get-go provides you with a straight giveaway on how a client perceives the writing process in terms of research time, writing time and editing time, etc.

Having a set deadline can also help you out in other ways too. As you alone; can judge how fast or slow you could work and even help you decide if you can or cannot accomplish the writing gig successfully in order to favour it towards your client’s liking.

5. How much research is involved?

Different writing gigs require different research skills. Whilst some gigs may require you to write specifically for topics under your niche, others may require additional statistical information and more in-depth analysis to back these topics up too.

You should also make sure that you explain to your client how you go about doing your research. As depending on the gig, you might need to travel or do in-person interviews to gather this.

With all that said, you need to understand that this research takes time and how much time is given to you in order to do this is important to consider when pricing up your gigs.

6. Which country will your writing be published in?

Nowadays, you can get writing gigs from all over the world and knowing where your writing is going to be published is important from a spelling and grammatical point of view.

As you don’t want to start writing an entire ebook in US English and later discover that it’s being published in the UK — it would be a nightmare to sort through!

7. Who are your readers?

One of the most important questions to ask is who specifically will be reading this piece of content (not to be mistaken with which country they’re from).

Every piece of writing requires a voice; whether it’s personal, professional, conversational, emotional or diplomatic for example. Therefore, by getting to know the audience you’d be writing for can help you to understand if you have the flair to write in the specific tone of voice needed to get through to these readers.

Again, your research on the client’s website will help you gain useful insights for this. You could even pitch ideas in the gig’s interview, based on what you have read so far. As bringing more than just the basics to an interview will definitely help gain some points in your favour.

8. Which additional skills do you need?

Writing online isn’t just about writing. Often times, your client may need you to create an infographic or understand some basic HTML coding in order to format a blog post correctly for example.

Understanding which additional skills a client may require at the beginning of your gig can certainly help you in the long run. As you won’t run into an unpredictable gig and you could even suggest learning the specific skills throughout the process if you’re unfamiliar with them.

9. Do you need to sign an NDA?

Something you may face as a writer is having to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) before starting to work on a gig.

Business-based clients often present this as a standard for most gigs and to be safe; you should read these thoroughly and become aware of all the enclosed legal clauses before signing.

You could even use free tools such as DocuSign in order to sign documents online (without having to print them off). As, if you don’t have access to a printer or are just pushed for time, clients are normally happy to send their NDAs through these tools if necessary.

10. How will you communicate?

When you’re working in a company’s office, then communication isn’t that big of an issue. However, if you’re working remotely, it can potentially be the complete opposite.

There are some remote clients which take a laid-back approach, allowing you to work with minimum supervision and others which require constant emails or calls to provide updates on your current tasks.

Meaning, knowing how you’ll be communicating is important to understand, as you may need to invest in a phone, Skype credit, app memberships or various other communication tools which may have costs involved, if they’re not already supplied to you by the client.

11. Are there any set work hours?

Working times are not often considered when discussing remote writing gigs. However, time differences do play an important role. As some clients expect you to check into their internal system between fixed times so that everyone on the team is working at the same time in order to increase efficiency.

Even if there’s no such check-in system, you still should ask what your client’s preferred working hours are. As it might be that they can only review your writing within their specific working hours, making deadlines much stricter for you.

12. Do you get days off?

When the writing gig is in-house, you may get all the benefits that other employees enjoy. Things like maternity leave, paid vacation, sick days, etc. However, what if the writing gig is temporary or you are working remotely?

Remote workers sometimes do benefit from the same rights as other full-time company employees, however, freelancers don’t usually get these. In such cases, you need to make sure you understand what your benefits are, in order to avoid any misunderstandings.

13. Do you need to buy anything to produce content?

Writing gigs which involve writing product descriptions or reviews may require you to purchase a product in order to help you produce the content.

In any case, before you buy a product, you should always confirm with your client; the total cost of the item, the shipping cost and if they’re okay to reimburse these both after you have produced your content.

Remember it is always better to be prepared than to regret your decision of accepting a gig later. So what questions are you going to ask for your next writing gig?

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