Recently, I explored the first 3 of my top 5 things to ask at the outset of a project. These are questions both clients and freelancers alike often overlook, but the information they reveal can make the difference between a project flying out the door faster than a greased whippet, or a lame Fido that hangs around your kitchen, urinating uncontrollably at the slightest disturbance.

Before I pick up this article where we left it, let me remind you once again that it’s OK to not know the answers to these questions.

This all about provoking discussion, and being mindful that the issues these questions allude to are more important than having all the correct answers straight away.

4. How should someone feel afterwards?

This is about characterising the emotions that we want to associate with an artefact, again from the point of view of your audience, reader or customer. This is after they’ve interacted with whatever it is this project is meant to produce – like engaging marketing copy or a lively photograph from an event.

There could be myriad emotions, but it’s surprising how limited our vocabulary is to describe them all. Go beyond the obvious – happy, sad, reassured and all of a sudden people draw blanks.

The book ‘Non-violent Communication’ has some excellent atypical emotional language to borrow from – like exultant and rancorous. Not two you’d usually employ, I grant you, but it provokes specificity in what is essentially our criteria for success: the level of connection we want to make with the users of our product.

Generally speaking, most projects want to evoke a positive response. Fear-based marketing is effective, but cowardly, to paraphrase advice from one of my clients.

In the context of copywriting, you’ve got to be genuine and honest when it comes to emotions. I’m all for giving people legitimate information, then using language to accurately describe some truthful future state. That’s how you make meaningful, lasting connections with customers.

5. What would wild success be like?

What a lovely one to finish with. Go on, ask the question – I bet you won’t.

In a fact-finding meeting between client and freelancer, it can feel a little awkward to ask this wondrous question. But why not? Humans seem to function better when they know what they’re aiming for. So let’s choose something lofty and ambitious.

This is about giving your freelancer a gold standard to work towards, and a chance to exceed your expectations. Some of us like to impress people – we like the praise and the extra satisfaction of having gone above what was required.

Asking this question also encourages innovation and experimentation. In the past, it’s compelled me to included extra ‘wildcard’ options amongst my event photos for clients – a perspective or object they wouldn’t usually promote, captured in a way they didn’t ask for.

That’s the beauty of being a freelancer – an outsider, you bring new ways to approach problems to people who are so close they struggle to step back.

So use your imagination, set the bar high – who knows, it might just pay off.

Read part 1 of this article.

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