Streaming live at 10am (PST)

How do you get content from clients?

Hey all! If you don’t know me, I’m John Moore Williams, head of content at Webflow. I’m doing some research to inform some upcoming content, so wanted to reach out to you all for your experience and insights on the topic, namely:

The experience of getting content from freelance clients.

I often hear Webflow users say it’s a big challenge, especially with smaller companies and individuals. So I’d love to hear more about:

  1. When it is challenging, why? What prevents clients from getting you the content you need?
  2. How you overcome that challenge. Do you subcontract a writer, convince the client to do it, write it yourself …?
  3. If you do end up writing it yourself, do you charge for that?
  4. If you’ve succeeded in getting clients to hire a writer to help you, how did you do it?

Of course, all your input is welcome! Those are just the main themes I’m exploring right now.

Thanks in advance!

5 Likes

This is an awesome theme to tackle!

I saw many problems with development that were just the result of poorly though out content strategy. I personally would absolutely love to hear others’ stories about this!

For me it goes like this:

  1. The problem with smaller client getting you the right content is that they never consider this a priority. They may think that you, as a designer, will simply create a placeholder for the content that will be later populated by… someone. And obviously this is not working. The recurring result of such approach is a soulless and templatey website.

  2. If possible I try to convince my clients to work with a writer because she will be way more knowledgeable about the whole writing process, she will know what kind of mood to create for certain audiences, she will have an idea about proper structuring of a message etc. And I will work with her from the start to create a cohesive symbiosis of visuals and copy. If it is impossible I will try to convince a client to provide the content himself, and most likely suggest a few edits here and there based on my own experience of content delivery. Since I am not a native speaker it would be a challenging undertaking for me to write content personally so I usually avoid this option :slight_smile:

  3. Welp, as I said, I try not to put myself into such situations but if I did, I’d charge for this kind of work, yes. But if I am just coming up with small amounts of copy here and there, or adding microcopy that was overlooked in the initial scope of work then I most likely won’t add anything into the invoice.

  4. By gathering as much information about the power of a good copy as possible and giving it to a client. Preferably short reads with clear message like this one here, and I can expound upon them as necessary. But of course the exact nature of my reasoning will depend on the job I am going to do.

Looking forward to the thoughts of others!

5 Likes

that is one of the points i hate in my job, collecting content.

There are 2 kinds of clients:

  1. Somebody, me sold them a new homepage, though they never thought of one, a new one, or they don’t really need one. But i need the money :slight_smile:
  2. Customer was looking after a freelancer/agency because he want/need a homepage and booked me.

Point 1: i have to run after content, have to call 1000 times, visit … and in the most cases i don’t get it.
Ponit 2: Customer is delivering Content, because usually he was thinking about what he want.
If he is asking for, i am charging or take somebody on the boot, who could do that.

The most Problem with Content is, that most of the Customers from Point 1 (99%) don’t understand why Content is so important.
In the past years i learned to not invest too much time with trying to collect content from customers.

2 Likes

I handle this in the client contract.

Text content

Unless agreed separately, we’re not responsible for inputting text or images into your content management system or creating every page on your website. We provide professional copywriting and editing services, so if you’d like us to create new content or input content for you, we’ll provide a separate estimate.

Graphics and photographs

You should supply graphic files in an editable, vector digital format. You should supply photographs >in a high resolution digital format. If you choose to buy stock photographs, we can suggest stock >libraries. If you’d like us to search for photographs for you, we can provide a separate estimate.

If they want it. They pay for it. Then a whole new content production process starts, which has nothing to do with design. Sure there is a collaboration between design and content teams, but not until we have the content and content flow (IA) fleshed out.

https://stuffandnonsense.co.uk/projects/contract-killer

3 Likes

Love that contract. Gonna try and translate it.

Just a cool tool to check out, regarding collecting content from a client and creating process around that for repeat project scenarios:
Content Snare

Ive been meaning to try this.

2 Likes
  1. The main challenge is getting the customer to understand the amount of work required to create that content and its value. They often see this as a small part of the design process, when it’s a huge part of the work…
    Getting content from customers is a real hassle as they are not copywriters (so this is a difficult exercise for them) and they already have a very busy schedule running their business.

  2. I usually end up writing the content myself, and having the customer proofing it.
    Customers don’t want to have a 3rd party doing the job, as they hired me for my experience, and don’t understand why I would need someone else if I could do it… (even-though there’s a tight deadlines for everything else…).

  3. Yes. I either charge the time spent or include a set price as part of the overall project.

  4. I didn’t…

2 Likes

Nice, thanks, Scott. I’ve stumbled across that one before and it does look interesting. I’m also a fan of Gather Content for this. It’s especially good for getting content in a structure that aligns with your Collection schema.

4 Likes

This looks excellent! The cutthroat pricing though!

1 Like

Yeah, pretty spendy. They’re really going after full orgs. Scott’s suggestion is likely a better fit for many of us, at least on the dollar-dollar bills front.

I built a similar solution for client content gathering with the processwire.com CMF/CMS. Built versions, notes, notifications and image resizing / bulk uploads. Free. Just a little developer time. Use for large content projects and multiple collaborators.

3 Likes

I’ve used Gather Content before, and would recommend, but Content Snare looks attractive on comparative price alone.

1 Like

By the time I have gathered content or written it, planned the site CMS / architecture, SEO, and schema there is minimal mojo remaining for the design itself! I am have built a very powerful notion.so setup for site planning down to the paragraph, photo shot lists etc and that is capable of being a shared writing space if required. I engaged with a writer once and had to heavily it for SEO, web attention spans and so on. I write all content now and I am charging half what is worth for the sake of project progression and world peace.

1 Like

Hey @jmw,

My answers :slight_smile:

  1. It’s always a challenge for small company, i guess because web is complicated for them and there is so much things to think about.
    For texts they don’t realize you have to think about CTA, blog texts, responsiveness, SEO, meta description/tittle, opengraph… Most of the time they have no idea what it is and why it’s important.
    For images they need to understand what is a good image (relevant), good quality (but not a 26mo jpeg for that menu logo), RVB… They have a lot to think about so as we do.

  2. So yes this is the next question, whose work is it ? Most of the time this is how i work : i build the basic structure/CTA and then i ask my client ok i need a text for this section, an image for this one.
    Most of the time i rework what they deliver so it fits well.
    It happens i end up hiring a photographer because my client wants pro pictures, or SEO writer because my client wants a good rank on google and understand he needs to pay for that.
    Also happens i do all by myself.

  3. Yes it happens i do it by myself, since my clients pay for the time i take to develop if it takes an extra day then they pay for it. I always tell them before a project that the most they can do the less i ll charge.

  4. When i hire a writer it’s always because my client wants a good SEO rank. So i explain to them this is a real job, that people study this job and make living out of it, that it needs scanning of competition, SEO strategy, writing skills etc.

Hope this helps :slight_smile:

3 Likes

Great topic.

The great thing about webflow is the CMS.

I design from the content out. So even if I don’t receive the ‘final’ content from the client (I work mostly for universities and academic institutions) I will have a pretty good idea from them what type of information has to go where, so I will break that down accordingly in the CMS. This forces/encourages them to fill in all the sections and full keep the site current with relevent content. If any section that I have added proves superfluous, then I can just remove it.

When I first present anything, I never use latin/placeholder text. I do think as a designer you should have a good enough idea of how you imagine the site content to be that you can at least write something along the lines of what you expect them to provide. After doing this a few times you do get a feel for it.

Sometimes that written content might actually be used. I don’t have an extra charge for copy though - I don’t consider myself qualified to do that - its just part of my design process.

When I get client content (written by them), It won’t necessarily be in the right order, or as I had broken it down. So I may break it down and use it slightly differently (say divide a large paragraph into a intro/smaller paras, add subheads, quotes etc - just so they can get a better idea. Of course it may work the other way around, and what they send makes me realise I need to adjust my design a little.

So I deliver a fully populated site, along with a CMS guide I make as a pdf. From then on its up to them, although I am of course always happy to be there for them if required.

As a one man band I do need to be able to put my hand to writing. It makes designing far more enjoyable and meaningful. I used to work for a huge corporate design firm in Amsterdam - It was all guidelines and templates, so I rarely got to deal with actual content which I really missed - and I think that separation can lead to soulless, vacuous design solutions.

Much happier now - webflow all the way!

2 Likes

SEO writing - yes good point

As I get content direct from my clients, I explain to them that text for web is not the same as if writing a story.

I always say in a story the plot unfolds and at the end comes the twist, or the punchline or conclusion. For web, as many people wont even reach the end you write the other way around. Punchline first, then trail off into more detailed information for those who are really interested.

1 Like

Was just thinking about something. Tried briefly Content Snare and got an idea that maybe could be easy to implement to the platform. I felt that I could mockup a page faster in Webflow then in Content Snare.

Ok, so you have a new client and you roughly know the clients project needs. Mockup some static pages and maybe some collections. Send a link to the Editor(you have to start hosting for this, maybe this could be free) and ask client to start fill the collections and the pages. Easy for client to understand what content to fill and at the same can see together with designer the new webpage grow.

2 Likes

@Ran_Segall talks about trying Figma to wireframe and capture content from clients in it.

Hi there, this is exactly why we’ve built our content marketing integration for Webflow. Take a look here please: https://storychief.io/webflow-content-marketing and it’s free.

2 Likes

I’ve done very similar things, Jörn, though historically through a spreadsheet, to address the hosting issue you mention.

1 Like