How to Get Your Clients to Send You Web Content On Time –

How to Get Your Clients to Send You Web Content On Time - ManageWP

For Internet marketers and web developers, working on a new website project can provide an exciting feeling of accomplishment. It’s almost like producing a piece of art or constructing a building. You can look at it after it’s complete and admire a job well done.

But when a website contains gaping holes where content is supposed to go, that feeling of accomplishment can dwindle pretty fast. And you think, “Gee, when will my client send me that web content for their home page?” And also, “When are we going to close this project so I can get paid?”

The client probably told you they were “in a rush” to have this website done but didn’t realize how much work it is on their part to produce content for their own site so that it can go live. We’ve all experienced this. Talk to developers on LinkedIn and at WordCamps, and you’ll see it’s a common problem. So just how do we get web content on time from our clients?

Here are a few tips woven in with participant advice given from a question we posted a while ago on LinkedIn WordPress Experts Group.

Set a Payment Deadline

There’s nothing like the pain of knowing you paid lots of money for something and having it do nothing for you. It can motivate a person to buckle up and get serious about their web content. If a client’s website is all paid for and all it awaits is content to go live, the client is more likely to start writing sooner than later.

It’s human nature – we don’t like our money wasted, and we also work well with definitive deadlines rather than, “Oh yeah, I need to do that thing on my task list sometime soon…”

This method requires a payment plan that is clearly outlined in a website development contract.

My method is to charge 50% up front and the remaining 50% immediately upon completion or within 70 days (whichever comes first). That way, the client knows two things:

  1. The site is “complete” when the site is developed, not when the content is ready, which means the payment will be due when we’ve done our part.
  2. If they delay the project, they still have to pay the final balance within 70 days, which is plenty of time to reach all the project milestones, plus some extra leeway for the ‘usual’ unexpected things that might come up and cause delays. In other words, it’s more than fair because it’s sufficient time for them to finish their web content, but the payment can’t wait because it affects our cash flow and ability to ‘eat’ for our hard work.

How strict you are in this regard is up to you, and there is no ‘standard’ or unwritten ‘code of conduct’ that web developers must go by. However, some developers make their stipulations extra rigid to help light a fire on the dynamo. For example, Mark Hannon of Mark Hannon Art Direction & Design suggests the following:

If the project stalls for a period of 3 weeks due to the client’s delays, the contract expires and a new contract has to be issued and signed. Any outstanding money the client owes needs to be paid at this point.

In addition

I’ve heard someone else give this type of stipulation to her clients, saying that upon delays, the client would have to lose everything they paid on the project to date and would be forced to start a new project with full re-payment. I personally think that a few weeks might be a bit too strict of a timeline, though it may be necessary in some special cases. For example, some WordPress developers and designers are in high demand. I can see how a client’s delays can be a complete waste of time since time is worth money and plenty of other businesses are lining up to use the services of high-demand developers or designers.

However, three weeks is actually not that long for a client to delay – I’ve experienced a lot worse, and I’m sure others have too! I can understand how this would be a good clause to have for projects that are delayed extensively — like for months, not weeks.

I recommend including a clause that covers “unresponsiveness” from a client.

If the client continues to not reply or goes MIA in the project process (this has happened to me before), then the project at some point can be deemed closed and the client will need to pay for any work done up to that point. It’s also important to include a no-refund clause to this as well, since if you’re closing down the project, some clients may feel they didn’t get what they paid for in the first place, even though it’s their fault the site was not finished and the work as promised was completed up to that point. I personally am happy to send unfinished files to the client to help compensate, though some designers may not want to do this to protect their copyright on artwork.

It’s scary to go several months not knowing if you’re going to get paid because the client may not be around to finish the project or send you a check for what you’ve worked on. In my experience, a contractual clause covering payment deadlines is essential to being in the web development and design business. It’s an industry where we work with entrepreneurs who have no one but themselves to be accountable to, and that usually means delays are inevitable because self-discipline is rare.

Set a Launch Deadline and Use Lorem Ipsum Placeholder Text If Necessary

This is a great tactic, and as Mary Diaz of Amethyst Website Design points out, in her experience:

Writing content for your own site is really stressful for many, especially small business owners, and it can cause good clients to avoid your emails, and projects to drag on forever. Since I don’t want that, I now add a clause that says if they are unable to send the content according to the schedule, I will add placeholder content for them, and they will be responsible for adding content. So far it’s worked really well. It actually relieves the stress for both of us. I can finish the site on time, and they can add the missing content when they can write without a brain freeze. I also have a copywriter that I can recommend to help them.

Using some demo Lorem Ipsum text is a great way to get the visuals of the site done, even if the ‘real’ content is not ready. It allows development to continue on schedule, but it does have its pitfalls. I have noticed that web projects that don’t have ‘real’ content ready at the beginning of the design phase can suffer in terms of marketability and making sure the design fits the required range during development. For example, a call to action may not fit in the space it was designed, or there may be more content boxes on the home page than the client needs to sell their key products. This is why having content up front is always the best scenario for producing successful web projects.

But it shouldn’t be a reason for a web developer’s cash flow to suffer for months or for their portfolio to be void with a bunch of un-launched websites, which can affect future sales. I’d say to use this tactic only if you really have to.

And remember, as Scot Zoumbaris of Pro Image Gold says, if you do use Lorem Ipsum text:

You’ll still run into clients that complain about what you’ve created, but had they moved forward in a timely manner, there wouldn’t have been an issue, so how much can they complain?

Charge Late Fees

I’m not a fan of this approach for several reasons.

Firstly, I’m an entrepreneur too, and I know that if the situation was reversed and I were in my client’s shoes, this would probably be a deal breaker for me. I would think, “I’m the one paying you, you don’t get to charge me late fees, it’s my website, and I’ll go live whenever I want. All you need to be worried about is that I pay you for your work on time and pay you for any extra work you do, which is fair.”

Gordon Jablonski of Keystone Internet Services also weighed in on this on our LinkedIn discussion, saying,

I know we are running a business here, but some of our clients have some serious issues to face in supplying us with their information…Constant contact with clients is essential and “nagging” won’t get the problem solved. Lighten up a little, let your clients be responsible for their own tardiness without issues.

Let’s face it; even many of us who sell websites have terrible-looking web designs because we neglect them due to our own spells of busyness as company owners. We know our top priority is to serve our clients first, not ourselves. So we may have one finger pointing at our clients when they cause web content delays, but that becomes three fingers we’re pointing at ourselves.

And, as Jade Stanley of Oasis Interactive explains, in her experience,

We tried charging a monthly fee for delays but it wasn’t enough to motivate them, but it did seem to make them mad.

I can totally see this happening. Clients don’t ‘get’ what we do, so this could be opening the door for angry arguments that make the working relationship awkward. No one likes to fight about money.

Secondly, if a payment deadline is in place, launching a client’s site later doesn’t usually cost more money. I don’t like charging clients for anything. So why would I charge them for something that has no hard cost for me? Well, except for frustration, demotivation, and the feeling of impatience…I guess that’s pretty bad to have to experience but it doesn’t actually put a dent in my bank account, if you know what I mean.

But – And This Is A Big “But”

I do understand why people implement late fees. If you’ve read Tim Ferris’s book, The Four Hour Work Week, which talks about time efficiency, you’ll know that setup time is your money eater. This is why it costs the same money to silk screen a few t-shirts versus silk screening a lot of t-shirts, and likewise with book printing. Once the printing mechanisms are in place, it’s only a matter of letting the machine run longer. It’s not the quantity affecting cost as much as the setup. The printer makes more on larger batches of work.

So for sure, if a client is causing delays that require you to consistently have to close and then re-open files, re-read e-mails, and have repeat conversations on the phone because no one remembers what was discussed four months ago, then late fees are totally acceptable. In this case, delays definitely do cost more, because they take more set-up time, and time is our only currency in this line of work. The more of it we spend on a project, the less we make.

So with points one and two above considered, I’m in favor of calling this a “project re-opening” fee, rather than a late fee that is charged based on the number of weeks or months a client is delaying the project. It sounds fairer and can be justified if explained to the client in the way I’ve described it above.

Offer to Write Content For Them

This is an excellent approach and I can say this because I’m also a copywriter and Internet marketer. Having the right web content can make the web design and SEO so much better. They work in harmony.  For more on this, I highly recommend “The Content Conundrum” by Christopher Detzi as well as my own response to the article titled, “My response to “The Content Conundrum”: We forgot the SEO!”

As Paul Gourhan of states well,

We have found that some clients are just incapable of providing content. It is that simple. Either they can’t write, they can’t motivate with their writing, they don’t now what to say or are simply too busy.

He also gives a great idea for us to turn our not-so-prose-friendly clients into writers overnight!

When we copy write we use an interview technique. We interview the client for each page and record the conversation to preserve the tone or voice of the client. Then we transcribe and polish it and send it to the client for review. This usually expedites the process.

See, it’s a complete client makeover idea. In actuality, people love talking about themselves. They just don’t know what they have that is so valuable, so trying to explain what is so great about their own company is hard. Ask yourself to do the same thing and come up with your unique selling proposition. Chances are you’re going to want to revise it ten times a year because you don’t know what it is that makes your target market love you; you just know that they do. Sometimes it takes an outside person equipped with the right questions, to come in and draw out these qualities in a way that can be explained to the masses.

More from Paul on this because his point is so great:

If you listen to the client, they love to talk about their business and why they built their company. If you are lucky you can capture the energy of their vision, the spark that made them start the business in the first place. It can really brand the site and make it different from its competitors. Also this technique can help the writer to apply proper industry specific keywords on top of the phrasing of the business owner. Very helpful for SEO.

Copywriting isn’t their expertise it is ours.

This is true. Our clients are not writers (unless you’re literally making a writer’s website…). They are business owners in different industries. We are the ones that know what kind of writing they need for their site, and it is only natural to provide this service to them or to refer them to a copywriter you know that can take care of the job and get it done on time. And, as Bob Rosenbaum of The Market Farm so classically points out, “[We] look at [web development] as a technology service, while our clients are expecting a marketing service.”

Sometimes the client just doesn’t want to pay for the added services, even though they need it badly, as Jade Stanley also mentions. Also, John Hollands of RWP Group points out,

For some sites people just do not have realistic assumptions of how long it takes to write decent copy. For technical sites the Professor of whatever can very rarely write anything that is going to motivate a visitor. We offer photography, copy writing, copy editing and a journalist and this still does not work.

In cases like that, I’d say, just go with placeholder Lorem Ipsum text. 🙂

Show Them How to Add Web Content Themselves

This is a no-brainer. The reason we use content management systems like WordPress in the first place is that it allows the client to add content to their websites without having to go through a web developer. So why not take the same route that Leo Adhemar Tan of Agents of Value suggests, which is:

We don’t include content in our agreement. We basically just provide them with a finished website that contains lorem ipsum content. This works for us because once we are done with the website, the next step is training the client on how to use WordPress, where to make changes, how to edit slider images, administer users, comment moderation etc… Some clients get so excited when they realize how easy making changes on WordPress is that they immediately start writing content. 😀

This is true – once clients see how easy WordPress is to work with, and see how fast it is to publish their content for the world to see, it gets exciting for them. They feel like they’re participating in ‘making’ something for themselves. I will only set up a limited number of pages for clients as part of the web development package, but then I will train them thoroughly on how to add the rest later. That frees me up from having to fix their typos as revision requests after they send me their so-called ‘final drafts’ to put up 🙂

Educate, Educate Educate!

You know, we really can’t blame our clients too much. Sometimes they have no idea what it takes to make a website. I often feel I work in one of the most misunderstood industries of our time. I’ve actually had clients think that all it takes for me to change colors on their website is the click of a button. I wish it were that easy! I’ve also had a business owner let me know that entrepreneurs just expect to pay the bill and suddenly have a website appear. They don’t realize how much work it is on their part.

As Jade Stanley points out almost exactly as I’ve thought of and heard it said before,

It amazes me that business owners so often refuse to take responsibility for their part of the project and want the website to magically appear with no input from them. Their has to be collaboration to create a successful website.

It amazes me too, but I’m less and less surprised nowadays.

Lydia Green, who isn’t a WordPress web developer but works in mobile medical communications and experiences similar client delays, mentions advice that is very applicable to what web developers do:

I like to think of it as an educational fix, not a legal fix. We have had luck with using slide decks on client kick-off conference calls at the start of a project. You can use these calls to review each person’s roles and responsibilities, project timelines, the importance of milestone dates, the need to be respectful toward team members and how delays at any stage create stress for people downstream.

I personally have a chart that shows visually how the timeline process works and what all the milestones are. It shows clearly that three ‘streams’ of work need to get done before a site can launch: web design, web content, and web development. In addition to this, a written timeline is also given, to describe what happens at each milestone and how many days it should take. When I first get a sales inquiry, my quotes mention that while the work time of a project can take x number of weeks, if the client delays getting back to me for say two weeks, then the entire project is delayed by that amount of time.

In short, clients need to know what this process will be like, what will cause delays, and what they can do to prevent the delays. This is run-of-the-mill for us, but to them, they’re walking into a brand new scenario. Even if they’ve worked with other developers in the past, it’s likely that your process is going to be different from what they’ve experienced before. So education upfront is pertinent. Bob Rosenbaum agrees, saying:

We understand how these projects come together but often don’t recognize that it’s all a mystery to the client. In those cases, you have to hold their hand and work with them upfront, before you begin programming, so they become a partner in the project rather than simply the buyer of a service.

5 Proven Strategies to Ensure You’ll Get Web Content On Time from Clients

In addition to the original article, here are more specific ways to help overcome the late delivery hurdle and streamline the content acquisition process. It’s essential to employ proven strategies that foster a collaborative environment and encourage prompt submissions. By implementing them, you’ll minimize delays, optimize project timelines, and achieve project success. Let’s dive in and discover how to effectively navigate the process of acquiring web content from clients on time.

1. Define Content Requirements

At the outset of any project, it is essential to establish clear and specific content requirements. By emphasizing the significance of defining these requirements, you can ensure that clients understand the crucial role their content plays in the overall success of the project.

Encourage clients to provide detailed guidelines with various aspects such as word count, format, tone, and any specific keywords or key phrases to include. By providing specific guidance, clients can effectively communicate their vision and expectations for the content.

One effective approach is to use a content brief or questionnaire that clients can fill out. This helps gather the necessary information and provides a structured framework for clients to convey their preferences, objectives, and target audience. By collecting these details upfront, you can avoid misunderstandings or revisions later in the process.

2. Set Clear Expectations

Effective communication is paramount when it comes to ensuring you’d be getting web content on time. From the initial discussions, clearly articulate the importance of meeting deadlines and the impact it has on the project’s overall timeline and success. By setting these expectations upfront, clients are more likely to prioritize and provide content on time.

Collaboratively agree on project timelines and milestones, which ensures that both parties are ok with it. Discuss the consequences of delayed content and the potential ripple effects it can have on subsequent tasks. By emphasizing the interdependence of various project components, clients gain a better understanding of the urgency and importance of timely content submission.

3. Establish a Collaborative Workflow

Foster a collaborative and transparent workflow by establishing open lines of communication with your clients. Encourage regular check-ins and progress updates to maintain momentum and keep clients engaged throughout the process. By demonstrating your commitment to the project and actively seeking their input, clients feel more invested in the timely delivery of content.

Utilize project management tools that facilitate seamless collaboration, such as shared calendars or project management platforms. These tools help both parties stay organized, track progress, and have a centralized location for content-related discussions and updates. By providing a structured environment for communication, clients are more likely to prioritize their content responsibilities.

By combining the importance of setting expectations with clearly defining content requirements, you establish a solid foundation for timely content delivery. This proactive approach encourages clients to provide detailed guidelines, use content briefs, and actively participate in the project’s progression. In the next sections, we will explore additional strategies to further enhance the process and ensure timely web content delivery.

4. Provide Clear Instructions and Templates

To ensure that clients can create and submit content effectively, provide them with clear instructions. By offering detailed guidelines, you’ll minimize confusion and ensure that clients understand the expectations and requirements for their content.

One helpful approach is to provide them with templates or examples that demonstrate the desired structure, formatting, and organization for their content. These can serve as valuable references and empower clients to align their submissions with your project’s objectives. By showcasing successful examples, you set a clear standard and make it easier for clients to meet your expectations.

Additionally, consider encouraging the use of content management systems or collaborative tools, such as Google Drive, Trello, and similar tools. These are helpful because they provide a centralized space where clients can create, edit, and submit their content.

And finally, remember to keep these templates and guides concise, easy to follow, and tailored to the specific needs of your project. Clearly communicate the desired content structure, word count, tone, and any specific guidelines unique to the project. This will empower them to create content that aligns with your project’s vision and saves time by minimizing back-and-forth revisions.

5. Set an example

One of the most effective ways to inspire timely content submissions from clients is to lead by example. As a digital marketer or web developer, it is crucial to prioritize and meet your own deadlines consistently. By demonstrating a strong commitment to delivering your work on time, you’ll establish a sense of professionalism and reliability that clients can emulate.

Make it a point to meticulously manage your own tasks, set realistic deadlines, and strive to complete them promptly. By showcasing your dedication, you not only demonstrate your commitment but also instill confidence in clients by handling their content with the same level of timeliness and attention.

Beyond meeting deadlines, it is important to exhibit professionalism and reliability in all your interactions with clients. This includes prompt and clear communication, actively listening to their needs, and addressing any concerns or questions promptly.

Maintain a professional demeanor throughout the project, treating clients with respect and courtesy. Be proactive in providing updates on the progress of their project. Also, keep them informed of any changes or adjustments that may impact content submission deadlines.

Furthermore, openly acknowledge and appreciate clients who consistently submit content on time. By publicly recognizing their efforts and showcasing their work as exemplary, you create a positive incentive for other clients to follow suit.

Finally, showcase the benefits of timely content submissions by highlighting how it positively impacts the overall project timeline and success.

Consider using Atarim

Atarim is the ultimate solution for freelance web designers and design agencies because one of its key features is incredibly efficient content delivery.

Once you onboard the client on Atarim, they don’t have to use any other channel (such as email, Slack or a blank Google spreadsheet and doc) to send you the content — they can do it all inside of Atarim, plus, on top of that, they can leave instructions, feedback and even see how things are progressing.

If you still prefer using email for content delivery, then Atarim also steps in as the best solution — their unified inbox, created specifically for web creators, will make email communication much easier!

All this shortens the project delivery time and provides your client with an amazing experience.

Check out Atarim here!

In conclusion

Getting web content on time is essential for the success of digital marketing and web development projects. By implementing the strategies outlined in this guide, you’ll overcome challenges and ensure prompt content submissions from clients.

Setting clear expectations, defining content requirements, providing clear instructions and templates, and leading by example all contribute to fostering a collaborative environment that encourages timely submissions.

Don’t let delays hinder your project’s success. Implement these strategies and streamline the content acquisition process for optimal results. And feel free to add your own suggestions below!

​​Editor’s Note: This post was updated in 2023, following industry trends and trying to offer a fresh perspective on the topic.

Keep reading the article at ManageWP. The article was originally written by Ivana Cirkovic on 2023-07-06 12:49:22.

The article was hand-picked and curated for you by the Editorial Team of WP Archives.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the product, We may receive an affiliate commission.

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