The Perfect Questionnaire

541349_spreadsheet_1By Amanda Smyth Connor

Before ever putting pen to paper, you will have met with your client several times to discuss the scope of the project before you. Presumably, you will have had a preliminary interview, followed by several formal (or informal) meetings to nail down all of the details so that there are no surprises along the way. How you go about these meetings is entirely up to you, but if I may, I’d like to pass along some advice.

Do yourself a favor and come up with whatever you consider to be “The Perfect Questionnaire.” Come up with a list of top questions that must be answered in order to quickly and efficiently complete any project. I would recommend including the following:

  • What tone/style specifically are you looking for and please provide an example of writing that exemplifies this tone/style. (Feel free to add some options regarding tone/style that a client might choose from to help guide them.)
  • Who is your key demographic (specifically – age, gender, etc)
  • What specific key points need to be called out in this project?
  • Would you like a call to action included in this project and if so, please clarify what this/these call(s) to action might be.
  • What is the end goal of this project? (Include examples, such as “to drive readers to your site”, “to increase traffic”, “to educate/inform”, “to entertain”, etc.)
  • Who are your direct/top competitors?
  • Is there anything specific that I may not be aware of that should NOT be mentioned?
  • What are your top keywords? Do you have an SEO strategy that I need to follow?
  • When does the final version of this project need to be delivered?

The client may be in charge during the interviewing and preliminary stages of any project, but once you begin discussing the details of the project, it is up to you to drive the meeting and to make sure you ask the right questions and gather as much info as you can. Do your homework and create a great questionnaire for yourself and your future clients – it will save you loads of time and will make your job that much easier.

Amanda Smyth Connor is a community manager for a major publishing company, owns her own wedding planning business, and has managed online communities and content development for many start-up and Fortune 500 companies.  She has been a professional editor for more years than she can remember.

2 thoughts on “The Perfect Questionnaire”

  1. Amanda–GREAT points on key demographics and specific call to action. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people coming to me with no clue what they actually want people to do as a result of a project.

  2. Hi Joe! Yes, this blog post is the result of many client meetings that ended with neither of us having a perfectly clear vision of what the other’s expectations were. I find that a good questionnaire is invaluable to any freelancer.

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