You’ve written for yourself for a number of years, which means you’ve developed your own written voice, but now you are branching out to writing content for clients. Congratulations! You’ll learn some new skills, and soon you’ll master writing in your client’s style.
More often than not, you ghostwrite when you write content for others. This means that your writing publishes with someone else’s name on your work, and you must write copy or content that clearly communicates in your client’s voice.
How do you write in your client’s voice? It isn’t so difficult, but it does require some “homework,” mainly research, to build a client profile that enables you to write in their voice. To portray the written hand of a client you need to become familiar with many aspects of your client’s verbal and written communication, including speech patterns, writing style, objective(s), tone, and focus on their ideal audience.
Here are the steps (I encourage you to take notes as you build your client profile.):
Know your client’s business goals. Ask your client what their values, goals, and mission is. Check out your client’s About Us website page to gain clarity. Why is this important? You cannot write in your client’s voice if you don’t know their “why.”
Get to know your client’s speech patterns. Talk with your client. You don’t have to meet in-person. Video chats work well for this purpose.
Notice how your client expresses themself. Are they casual or strictly business? Do they speak in-depth with descriptive facts and helpful information, or do they speak in short sentences in a friendly conversational style?
If you cannot meet the client in-person, search for videos or podcasts to pick up on your client’s communication style.
Read your client’s written materials. Compare your client’s tone and writing style from piece to piece. Determine the audience your client is speaking to. Note any patterns or differences in word selection or sentence structure.
Note differences in your client’s writing style between platform types (social media, blogs, website copy, and other marketing materials).
Take note of what your client likes to use in their writing, for example:
- Descriptive words
- Frequently used phrases (especially specific to your client’s brand or industry)
- Bullet points
- Numbered lists
- Em dashes
- Long (or short) sentences
- Technical descriptions
- Expressive, casual, or friendly comments
- Quotations or links to other webpages
- Personal or descriptive stories
Read competing written materials. Ask your client who they are competing against. If they don’t know, your next step is to do the research—find well-written informative pieces that give you clarity into your client’s industry. What information do they provide through their content? Look for written pieces with similar writing styles to compare to.
Create a client profile. Mesh what you’ve gleaned from your research. You now have an image of who you must be (yes, you become THEM) when you write in your client’s voice.
Save yourself future research time, hang onto your client profiles. As you gain more and more clients, you will appreciate profiles that you can flip back to when your clients seek you out again in the future.
Receive feedback and revise. Some clients have in-depth editing teams, who may push written pieces back to you to correct voice, tone, or sentence structure. Some clients are solopreneurs or small business owners who may read your work and then publish it on their own once they approve. I always recommend a review—you need that second set of eyes. Revision is a great skill-sharpening and learning tool for a writer…be thick-skinned and continue to grow!
I am curious…
I would love to hear the strategies that you have in place for writing in a client’s voice. Also, have you experienced opposition from people (business owners, etc.), “Nobody can write in my voice, I must do my own writing.” My thought is that they must enjoy writing, whether they realize it or not. What do you think?