Those of you who have taken my free mini-training on The Six Productivity Principles for WordPress Project Success know that one of those principles is: Get the Right Resources Involved. And that is the principle at hand here. WHO is the right resource for content-related activities and tasks.
Sometimes… who am I kidding, MOST of the time, the client is not the best one to create, collect, and organize the content they need for their new website. Waiting on content from the client is one of the biggest cause of unplanned delays and bottlenecks.
Now, don’t get me wrong. SOME clients really ARE the best resource for the content activities but quite honestly, that’s the exception, not the rule. But alas, most clients think they can do it, and they want to do it, because they often don’t have money budgeted for a copywriter.
So first, since the principle is “Get the Right Resources Involved,” how do you know IF your client is prepared to write their own copy, create or collect their own images, shoot their (or acquire their own video), and so forth? Here is a list of questions to ask yourself AND possibly the client.
1. Do they have an existing site? Did they write the copy? Is it any good?
2. Do they seem overly busy? Is the staff overworked? Are they understaffed?
3. Do they have someone who can devote a large majority of time to content activities in order to meet the deadlines?
4. Is the client already giving signs of having unrealistic expectations regarding the website and work involved to create it?
5. Do you just get a general bad vibe about the client’s abilities to tackle the content-related tasks? (in this case, trust your gut)
So, let’s presume for a moment you have made the determination the client is NOT the best resource for the job. How do you convince them to let YOU or a Third Party copywriter do it.
Show Them the ROM
One of the best ways to do this is create a Rough Order of Magnitude or ROM. Usually, a ROM estimate is an estimation of a project’s level of effort and cost to complete, sometimes for a proof of concept or viability. In this case, you’re performing a ROM estimate on just the content activities. I do this for every project, regardless of who will be completing the actual activities.
To create a ROM:
- Determine the number of pages that are anticipated to be on the website.
- Estimate each of the following that you expect to be on each page. (Include every page, sidebar, popup, etc. and count each title as one paragraph).
- Now give a time estimate to each item. For example, let’s say you decide to use an estimate of 15 minutes per paragraph (to allow for editing and re-writing) or 8 hours for each video that needs to be shot. For videos and images, you may want to also include time estimates for shooting and editing, or if using stock images, locating and purchasing the images.
Note: I have a spreadsheet that is already set up to help you calculate ROM and it will be available in The Complete Project Management Roadmap for WordPress that will be released this summer.
When you show the client a summary of the ROM estimate, this is often enough to get them to understand the volume of work and agree to get help.
Be Brutally Honest with the Client
We all want to appear professional and give the client the perception that we indeed know our stuff so we tend to act like there are no “unknowns” and there will be no issues on the project. We don’t usually talk about potential issues too much up front for fear of not winning the project. This is just plain stupid. There, I said it.
Let the client know that content bottlenecks are common and usually the result of the client over-estimating their ability to get it all together and not getting it done per the schedule Then, make sure they know that YOU are going to put processes in place to prevent that. Don’t sugar-coat any of it but make sure to play up the way you are going to prevent it in a positive way.
Include Warning Messages Throughout Your Project Documents
Make sure you have plenty of references to the content-related activities and their impact on the project and make sure you go over these statements in detail during the proposal walkthrough. Don’t be afraid to use strong language and, if you’re using a content-first approach, be sure to indicate the ramifications of not meeting deadlines for getting the content together. Places you can so this in the proposal include:
- Scope – which content activities are OUT of scope and which are IN scope and which in-scope activities are the client’s responsibility
- Proposed Solution/Deliverables – This is especially important if the content will be copied from an existing site and edited. Spell out that the content is a deliverable.
- Include the ROM – in the proposal and explain that it is a rough estimate that was used as an input to the rest of the project estimate
- Timing Estimates – make a strong disclaimer about what happens if content isn’t delivered per the agreed-upon schedule
- General Agreements – Be sure to set out content-related activities and delivering on time is something the client is agreeing to and once again, spell out what happens if it is not received as planned.
- Managerial Approach – if using a content-first approach, spell out the details here.
- Change Control Process – when describing this for the client in your project documents, be sure to include content changes and how/when they are managed.
What if You Can’t Convince Them?
In the end, sadly, even if you do these things, you still may not be able to convince the client that they are not the best resource for the content-related tasks. If that’s the case, you have 2 choices.
1. Make sure you have processes in place to manage the content and client so bottlenecks do not occur
2. Move on to the next client.
Remember, you have a right to shop for the “best fit” in a client, just like they are shopping for the best WordPress provider. Don’t be afraid to let those go who you have reason to believe are only going to cause you pain and suffering. OK, maybe not pain and suffering, but surely annoyance and frustration. “Don’t nobody got time for that!”
Update on The Complete Project Management Roadmap for WordPress – Due to some software upgrades to the plugins I use for delivery of the training program, things are a bit behind schedule but the launch it currently planned for some time this month (June 2019). Thank you for hanging in there with me!