Deciphering the Client Code, Part 2
We're back again with part two of Deciphering the Client Code where we'll continue to discuss the different aspects of client instructions and some of the best ways to respond to those instructions. In part one, we tackled using the correct voice and tone as requested by the client, so now let's focus on some of the other varied requests and types of instruction you may receive as an author.
Types of Orders
It’s always important to recognize the type of order you are writing. Clients may ask for a general article, a product description or a press release among other things. All of these order types will be written with different structures and perspectives. For example, a “product description” would typically be the type of text you would read when purchasing a product from a retailer whereas a “review” could be about the same product but written from a user perspective. When you are not sure of what structure and perspective to follow for a particular type of order, such as press release, try searching the Internet using phrases such as “how to write a press release.” If you are still uncertain about writing a particular type of order, it may be best to try selecting order types that you are more comfortable with. Stay tuned for future blogs detailing the different order types that you may encounter here at Textbroker.
U.S., U.K. and Australian English: Don’t we all speak the same language?
While English speakers tend to understand one another quite easily, the language does vary in grammar and spelling. British and Australian are more similar to one another than they are to U.S. English. Canadian English principles could be considered a mix between those of U.S. and U.K. English. While using some non-American slang or phrases may also be a part of the dialects, it’s important to remember that you are writing non-fiction, so there’s no need to construct your sentences or words as if they are being spoken with an accent like you might do for a fictional character in a novel.
Spelling is one of the key differences in the styles. Many words, especially the endings of the words, will vary from the common U.S. forms, such as centre/center, favour/favor and realise/realize. Fortunately, spelling is the easiest aspect to overcome when writing orders that ask for these styles. Some word processors and browsers have options to check for spelling that is reflective of U.K. and Australian English. Additionally, there are free spellcheck websites available, such as SpellCheck.net, that can review your work.
The differences do not stop there, however. Grammar among each form of English will vary, including differences in comma placement, placement of punctuation with quotations, and singular or plural verb usage. In U.K. English, all collective nouns, such as “team” or “family,” are plural whereas many collective nouns in the U.S. are considered singular entities; this directly affects the verbs and pronouns used. Additionally, a singular business would be considered a “they” in U.K. English rather than an “it” in U.S. English.
The differences in the languages should not be taken lightly, but we encourage you to study for any style and language for which you may want to write. However, if you do not feel comfortable with the differences, it would be best to choose another article more suited to your particular skill set and comfort zone.
Keywords, Keywords, Keywords
Using keywords effectively is what some articles are all about. It’s important to note that a client may put the keyword requirements in the body of the instructions rather than the “required keyword” section; all client requests for keywords will still need to be completed regardless of where keywords are found in the instructions.
Keywords can be difficult to work with in some orders, especially when trying to use them in a grammatically correct way. Use the connecting words and inflections allowances to your advantage! In the keyword section of the instructions, you will be notified if these features are enabled by the client.
Connecting words allow you to add certain words to the keyword phrase but still have that phrase count as a keyword. For example, the keyword phrase “great gifts dad” could be written as “great gifts for dad” using this feature. A list of available connecting words can be viewed by clicking on the “Connecting Word List” in the instructions. Inflections allow you to make small additions to the form of a word in a keyword phrase. For example, the phrase “boat show in Michigan” could be written as “boat shows in Michigan” when inflections are activated.
Some clients may also ask for keywords to be used at a particular density rather than a certain amount of times. The density refers to the percentage of times that the keyword is used in relation to the total word count. This can be tricky to determine, especially if the keyword is actually a full phrase. Don’t fret, however; you don’t have to all the math on your own. Like free online spellcheckers, there are also many word counting websites that provide a density checker. Simply search the Internet to find them. Please keep in mind that different spellcheck software may use different algorithms to calculate the word count, so the exact word count may vary from application to application; for example, you may have noticed a word count variance between your computer’s word processor and Textbroker’s author interface.
A final note on effectively using keywords involves proper capitalization. The Textbroker keyword counter is not case-sensitive. Therefore, capitalize proper nouns and acronyms even if they are lowercase in the instructions. The only reason to leave these words lower case is if a client requests to use the exact format given.
HTML: When Should I Use It?
Clients will often ask for HTML coding to be added to their orders. However, even more often, clients won’t give any indication on whether or not they care for coding, so what is an author to do? The best approach is to only use coding when a client asks for it. You can also use the Textbroker message system to ask clients if they have a preference. If you are having trouble using HTML code, check out “Textbroker’s Guide to HTML” or try searching the Internet: You will not be the first person who asked how it all works.
Short, Simple Instructions vs. Long, Detailed Instructions
Every client has different instructions, and almost all instructions come in different lengths and sizes. Naturally, there is a tendency among authors to avoid orders with instructions that are longer or more complex. However, orders with longer instructions can actually be very simple to write, and orders with short instructions, in some cases, can actually be deceptively difficult.
Orders with instructions that are short usually seem simple at first glance. They also tend to allow for a bit of creativity from the author and are a great way for authors showcase their writing talents and style to clients. Being able to present quality work with little instruction is fantastic in the eyes of clients.
However, some instructions are so short or so simply written that it may be difficult to understand what the client actually wants. For example, take the very brief instruction “Please write a 300-400 blog post on envelopes New York.” If that is the only instruction provided, it’s very unclear on what the client really wants those 300-400 words to discuss. Without picking a clear direction or concept to write about “envelopes New York,” the order becomes susceptible to filler and repetitive phrasing, which are not representative of quality authorship. To avoid this, first try brainstorming for a concept that will let you discuss multiple aspects of the keywords. Then, try outlining a specific structure for the order that will discuss those aspects.
Long or complex instructions are usually present for one main reason: The client is very specific as to what he or she wants written. This is great for you as an author! While having to read long instructions may seem to be a “time waster,” having clear and specific instructions to go on will actually save you time in your brainstorming or pre-writing steps. Knowing exactly what a client wants and providing an article tailored to those wants is the easiest way to please a client.
Orders with long instructions are not necessarily complex. These instructions often just give a large amount of very simple information, such as use “specialist” rather than “expert,” and basically, they are just many clients’ way of covering all their bases. Clients with long instructions also tend to place several orders with the same basic set of instructions. After all, if a client needed one 300 word order but needed to give 600 words of instructions to tell you how to do it, why wouldn’t the client just write the order?
While the choice of which orders to write is always up to you as an author, keeping in mind what kind of instructional outline you need to complete an order is essential. If you tend to think on your feet or have little difficulty deciding on the direction of your work, orders with less specific directions may be preferable. However, if you have difficulty writing an order without explicit guidelines from the client, orders with longer and more descriptive instructions may be best. One of the most difficult things to do when writing an article is to physically start writing it – in other words, knowing how to begin your article. To alleviate this problem, try working on orders with instructions that clearly define the structure of how the article should be written or that provide specific information and topics that must be addressed.
Rechecking Work with the Instructions
One of the best ways to ensure that you have met a client’s requirements is to reread the instructions once you have finished writing your article. Try going through the instructions like a checklist, noting that each request has been fulfilled. Doing so can effectively point out any requests that have been missed, allowing you to revise your order before sending it on to the client.
It’s important not to be discouraged when order-related issues such as revision requests arise. Getting one doesn’t mean you are a bad writer. If you receive a revision request from a client or a Textbroker administrator, keep in mind that the revision process is there as a next step to help you fulfill the order as desired by the client. In other words, they are there to help you get the order accepted and thus get paid. Try to learn from those revision requests, and keep them in mind when writing future orders, especially if for the same client. Most importantly, if you come across instructions that you feel are unclear, try messaging the client or a Textbroker account manager if one is specified in the instructions; you can also email us at email@example.com for general inquiries. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to ask questions; this could mean the difference between an unwanted revision request and being set up for success.