You just landed a new copywriting client.
You can’t wait to start.
Hold your horses.
Before you begin working together, you need to understand their business, goals, and project scope.
That’s where a copywriting client questionnaire comes in handy.
Here are 29 questions to ask copywriting clients.
1. Can you please explain your copywriting needs?
The first question I like to ask my copywriting clients is what their project is that they need help with.
This gives me a high-level overview of the project scope, what we’re trying to achieve, the product we’re selling, and who we’re targeting.
It also allows me to determine if it’s an industry and area that I’m capable of helping them in.
Some times you may not be the best fit for each other if the project and your expertise doesn’t align.
2. What’s the goal of the campaign?
Every copywriting project is different.
The goal for one may to be drive sales from a direct response letter.
…Another aims to drive traffic to a landing page for generating leads.
…Another is maximizing conversions from an online sales page.
You get my point.
Ask what the goal is so you can assess how you will write the copy to achieve it.
3. What is your product or service?
Sales copy is written to persuade customers about a product or service.
Ask what the product or service is that you will be writing about.
Get them to tell you as much about is as possible. Become an expert.
What are the features?
What are the benefits?
How much does it cost?
Does it require maintenance?
How do you use it?
Ask for links to product pages or documents detailing them.
4. What is the unique value proposition?
Every good product or service has a clear value proposition.
A.K.A what makes it different than anything else?
This will play a huge role in your copywriting.
It allows you to communicate to customers why this product is worth swiping their credit on and they can’t get it anywhere else.
5. When would you like to get started?
I’ve had clients that want to start the minute we talk and others that want to wait months.
Ask what their availability is and when they’d like to get the ball rolling.
This helps you plan your calendar, schedule, and the project itself.
6. When’s the deadline for this project?
Similar to the last question, when the project will end is very important.
It allows you to plan out workflow and how much you need to get done every day to meet the deadline.
Charge more for any last-minute immediate projects.
7. What is your budget?
Don’t be afraid to talk dollars and cents.
This is business after all.
Ask them how much they are looking to spend on this campaign.
Tell them your rates.
If it’s a match, you can negotiate payment terms and details. 👌
8. Have you worked with freelance copywriters before?
I like to ask every client if they’ve worked with other writers before.
Firstly, it allows me to gauge how they perceive and treat writers.
I think we’ve all had crappy clients that treated us poorly and saw writers as disposable.
If that’s the vibe, good riddance!
Secondly, it allows me to get into my ICP’s (ideal client profile’s) head.
What are they thinking?
What did they like about past writers? ✅
What didn’t they like? ❌
I can take this information to improve my service and the experience I offer.
9. Is there any editor I will be working with?
Publications and businesses will often have an editor that you work with.
Other times you will be left to do the editing on your own.
Be careful here.
Make sure that you carefully negotiate editing rates and expected deliverables.
Is editing included?
How many revisions do you offer?
10. Are there other people such as designers I will need to work with?
When I work with a copywriting client, it’s common for me to work with a designer or other internals.
I’m the writer. That’s it.
The designer is a pro at taking my copy and making it visually appealing while maximizing its impact.
Ask if they want you to do any designs or provide wireframes.
11. Will I need to interview people within your company?
To truly become an expert on a company and its products, you need to talk to people within the business itself.
Ask the client if they would like you to interview people in their organization.
Are there specific people you should be connected with?
Are there complicated topics to smooth out?
12. Who will decide on topics?
Some clients will want and appreciate if you research topics.
This is typical for blog copywriting.
Topics should attract the buyer persona and be contextual to the client’s business.
Some writers will charge more if they have to perform the topic and keyword research.
13. Do you also require this copy to be optimized for search engines?
Blog content is almost useless if it isn’t optimized for search engines like Google.
Nonetheless, it’s an art form.
It takes years to learn.
I do SEO blog writing for my clients. Optimizing content, researching keywords, and related processes really add up.
If the client requires this, you should consider increasing how much you are charging.
14. May I please see your previous marketing material?
One of the best ways to understand how a business positions itself, communicates with customers, and more is by studying its previous material.
Ask the client for blog posts, email newsletters, ads, and any other material they have to help you understand their business deeper.
Save this in a Google Drive folder or another location to reference while writing.
15. Do you have any examples of external campaigns I can use as a reference?
Outside inspiration is a crucial part of marketing and copywriting.
Ask the client if they have seen any other campaigns or examples of what they are trying to achieve.
This will help you write copy and produce output that is close as possible to their vision.
16. Who are you competitors?
A client’s competitors are necessary to know when taking on a copywriting project.
They help you to study how the client differentiates itself to translate those elements into writing.
I also find it useful for further grasping the industry language and target audience.
17. What do they do better or worse than you?
Next, I like to ask the client themselves what they believe competitors do better or worse.
This gives me firsthand insight into how they like to be seen by customers.
…How we can stand out.
…How we can poke holes in the competition.
18. What’s your buyer persona? Is it documented?
You’e not writing for everybody.
You’re writing for Bill, the 52 year old accountant from Boston.
The father of three that likes to play baseball on the weekends and learn guitar in his downtime.
The man that has fears, desires, and insecurities like everyone else.
That’s why you MUST ask for a buyer persona.
It is a personification of their ideal customer.
Having this at your disposal allows you to write copy that hyper-targets a small segment to make the most meaningful impact on their life.
19. What problems do they experience?
Why do people buy products or use services?
Because they are experiencing a problem.
Let’s say that your car breaks down. You go to the mechanic.
Maybe you need a website to promote your business. You go to a web developer.
You get my point.
Ask what pain points the client’s audience has so you can infuse them in the copy and solve them at the same time.
20. Do you have branding guidelines?
The last thing you want is to write 10,000 words and find out that it sounds nothing like what they want.
Ask clients if they have branding guidelines available.
It covers tone of voice, personality, writing style, colors, etc.
21. Do you have content guidelines?
Similarly, ask for content guidelines.
This will guide you (no pun intended) along what words to use, what to avoid, and speak in a way that accurately reflects the business.
22. How is this copy going to be distributed? Do you require that from me as well?
Postcards get send out via mail.
Blog posts are distributed through social and email.
Squeeze pages are promoted through PPC campaigns.
Ask if the client requires you to be involved in the distribution process.
If so, I suggest including it as a separate service and charging for it.
23. Would you like to see my rates?
Presuming the client doesn’t already know how much you charge for writing, ask if they would like to hear how much you bill for the type of project discussed.
Talk about invoices, payment terms, royalties, and other details here.
24. Would you like to view my portfolio and writing samples?
Provide the client with a link to your portfolio and specific writing samples.
For instance, if you are going to write them a sales letter, show them sales letters you have already wrritten.
Or, at minimum, present them industry-specific work that relates to their needs.
25. How do you like to work?
Every client is different.
Some are in the stone age and want to go back and forth via email with updated Word Docs.
Some are up to speed and like to use Slack, Trello, Google Drive, etc.
Find a happy medium where you are both productive and comfortable.
26. What’s the best way to reach you?
Knocking on their door?
Fax? (I hope not!)
Determine how the client is comfortable communicating so you are both on the same page during the project.
27. Will I be able to receive a byline?
A byline is priceless for a writer.
It drives referral traffic, gives you exposure, and results in countless future opportunities.
Unfortunately, some clients aren’t cool with it.
They want it to be ghostwritten and to appear as if they’ve done the hard work.
If so, charge a premium and ask the next question.
28. Are you okay with me including this in my portfolio?
Let’s be serious.
A big chunk of the reason why you’re taking on a project is to later include it in your portfolio.
It’s an investment.
It allows you to charge more and land more clients later.
See if the client is fine with the project being included in your online portfolio.
If not, it’s up to you whether or not you’d like to take the project on.
29. How do you typically handle payments?
You like to get paid, right?
Naturally that means you need to ask how clients normally fulfill invoices.
It might be through e-transfer, bank wire, or PayPal for example.
Get on the same page about this before beginning any project.
Wrapping up what questions to ask copywriting clients
Always have a copywriting client questionnaire on hand before beginning a project
It makes the process 10x easier and you appear much more professional.
I recommend asking the questions I outlined today via email, on the phone, and as you progress through a project.
Feel free to compile them into a PDF to send over for a client’s direct input as well.