Guiding Clients through an Effective Revision/Editing Process
Let’s talk about effective feedback today.
Every project needs revisions. It’s just part of the process. How you receive those revision requests, however, and what you do next, that’s what will set the project on a successful, enjoyable path or send it down a dark, twisty, and stressful road.
Big caveat: Sometimes, clients just don’t respect your opinion, your work, or your reasoning. If you’ve integrated all the lessons to date and your client still ignores your expertise, then you’ve got one last chance to make things right.
Teach Your Client to Provide Feedback
Feedback makes or breaks projects. But with that said, you have to teach your clients how to give proper feedback. You tackle projects like theirs all the time, but this could be their first or second interaction with a creative freelancer. Translation: They might not know how to critique your work.
So, don’t be shy about telling your client (before the project starts) how to share feedback and request revisions. In order to ensure feedback works for the project and not against it, you have to show your clients how to give good feedback. Be clear—it’s their job to suggest what isn’t working, but it’s your job (as the hired expert) to suggest how to fix it.
As an example, I give my clients a one-page PDF that demonstrates good feedback in one column and unhelpful/bad feedback in another column.
You and your client both want a successful end result, so asking for a certain kind of feedback isn’t bossy or arrogant, it’s smart. It promotes success.
Additionally, guiding client feedback doesn’t mean you don’t listen or consider their perspective. The opposite is true; you’re listening in a specific and complementary way in order to dig out the root of the problem and make it go away.
Descriptive vs. Prescriptive Feedback
• “Change the blue to green.” This is prescriptive feedback.
• “This is the same blue that our competitor uses. How can we make our color palette stand out?” This is descriptive feedback.
Scenario two describes the problem (and why it’s a problem), instead of telling you how to fix an arbitrary “issue.”
If your client hasn’t worked with a creative freelancer before—or worse, they worked with someone who didn’t properly direct their feedback—they may have acquired some bad habits (like micro-managing). But it isn’t the end of the world.
Instead, it’s the perfect opportunity to do a little teaching. If they ask for something that won’t work or doesn’t serve the project, it’s up to you to respond in a non-confrontational way. Here’s how to do that:
A. You can re-outline prescriptive vs. descriptive feedback again.
B. You can remind the client about your expertise and track record for success.
C. You can say, “I understand your concerns, and …” to show you hear them.
Overall, you are the only person who can stop bad, prescriptive feedback. It’s not your clients’ job to know how to provide effective critiques, it’s yours.
The end result, for both of you, will be infinitely better. We’re talking less stress and fewer ridiculous change requests.
Sounds nice, right?
Next time, let’s talk about finishing projects and helping clients succeed.
Kaleigh and Paul
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