5 Ways to Get Web Content from Your Client on Time

It’s an all-too-common problem we designers face. You’ve laid out the brochure, or built the website, set up the database and integrated your CMS of choice, but you’re still faced with page after page of “Lorem ipsum…” where the client’s copy should be.

This then impacts on your next project, since when the copy eventually does show up, you need to revisit a job you should have put to bed weeks ago.

In terms of your income, it can have a negative impact too since you may have agreed not to send out that final invoice until the website was live, or the job’s gone to the printers.

In an ideal world, before we even launch Photoshop or Illustrator, we’d have a nice Word document sitting open containing all the copy we need. Unfortunately, in 15 years of working, this has never happened to me.

So, how do we get that all important Word document from our dear clients? Here are a few pointers:

1. Explain That Content Can Influence Design

Have you ever laid out a homepage design where your introductory placeholder text sat nicely alongside a lovingly chosen photo, in perfectly balanced harmony? You show the designs to the client and they love it.

Four months later they provide an entire page of A4 with their “welcome to my website” message. You explain that on the designs you’d allowed for something short and snappy, three or four paragraphs max–but they insist they need to list all these other services that they completely failed to mention at your original meeting.

The result: you need to revisit the design. Drastically edit their text. Or, bite the bullet and put their life story in there, which then knocks the entire page out of whack.

With the content up-front, this wouldn’t have been an issue.

2. For SEO Purposes, Timing Is Crucial

Clients love this. Any mention of SEO and you’ll put the fear in them. Explain that time is of the essence, and there could be any number of competitors out there, launching their carefully crafted sites in a direct attempt at winning the race to page one and edging your client to the sidelines.

Come on! Type! Faster! More keywords! Go!

3. Issue Contracts with Fixed Dates

If you issue contracts to your clients, it should list all the delivery milestones. By setting a date for content-delivery you’re more likely to receive it on time. If you have a clause in there regarding missed deadlines and how this may affect the ultimate delivery date of the project, this can usually prod them into action. Explain that you’re a busy person and you will have to move onto the next project if they can’t deliver on time.

The client will always prefer to see the job completed before handing over the money, and if you have a final invoice date set in the contract, this should prompt them to keep their side of the bargain.

4. Offer an Incentive

Everyone loves a discount or a freebie. Try to encourage your clients to provide copy on time by offering them something in return. Explain that it helps not only your workflow, but your cash flow too, and dangle them whatever carrot you can.

If you offer hosting, you could give them the first year free, or at 50% off. Or what about an optional extra that was on their project “wish list,” but out with their budget–it might be worth spending a couple of hours on this rather than spend the next four months sending out reminder emails.

5. Hire a Professional

Finally, the simplest (and best) option. Ask them to hire a freelance writer and explain the advantages:

  • The client won’t have to stress over the copy
  • They’ll get text that works far more effectively for their business
  • It’ll make them look bigger, and cleverer

They’ll be putting food on the table of another freelancer, and you won’t have to cringe at another introductory paragraph that ends–“Why not let (insert company name) provide your (insert product or service) today?”

Your Turn

I had hoped to make this a “10 ways…” list, but without including threats of violence, or emotional blackmail/breaking down in tears, I’d struggle to make up the numbers.

Any further suggestions would be very welcome!

Image by Charles Williams