You’ve gotten your first B2B writing project. Congratulations! That’s worth celebrating.
But once the initial excitement wears off, you might notice another emotion creeping in.
Reality sets in when you realize you have deadlines… expectations… and someone who’s taking a chance on you. You’ve done so much to prepare for this, but your mind goes blank. Where do you start?
Here are 10 tips to help you complete your first B2B writing project successfully…
Tip #1 — Bring confidence
The first thing is to take a deep breath. And then remind yourself that you can do this.
Having confidence might seem optional, but it’s actually crucial. Because your mindset will shape how you approach the project.
If you stay panicked and nervous about it, you won’t focus very well. You’ll constantly second-guess yourself and worry that you’re not taking the right approach.
But if you go into it believing in yourself… knowing how capable you are… and remembering that you’re a professional writer… the opposite will happen. You’ll be eager to dive in and focus. You’ll spend your time and energy on researching and writing instead of worrying, and your work will be stronger for it.
Tip #2 — Prepare a timeline
Another early step is mapping out a timeline. You know when your first draft is due, but you also need time for revisions. How much time depends on your writing style.
You might be the kind of person who gets pretty close to what you want on the first try. Or maybe your best work comes with revisions and you need a few drafts.
Be honest with yourself about this, and since it’s your first B2B writing project, include a 50% buffer to be safe. Then give yourself internal deadlines so you’ll have time to present your best work.
Tip #3 — Review relevant training
You’ve probably done a lot of training in preparation for this moment, but not all of it will apply to your current project.
For instance, are you working on a case study? If so, then set aside materials about white papers, emails, websites, and blog posts.
You want to keep your focus on what’s relevant. Go back over any notes for the kind of project you have, then pull together the most useful pieces into something you can print and keep on hand. You may not even need it once you’ve refreshed your memory, but it’s better to have it easily available than have to dig for it.
Tip #4 — Don’t be intimidated by a new topic
At this point, you might still be learning about your niche. So this topic could be completely new to you. And when you start to research, you might feel overwhelmed by all the jargon and acronyms.
But don’t let it get to you. If you consider this an opportunity to learn and become an expert in something new, you’ll have fun with the research. And you never know how this information could help you down the road.
Tip #5 — Ask questions as needed
As you’re working on your piece, you might have some questions about your topic. But if you’ve positioned yourself as someone knowledgeable about the field, should you ask your client those questions?
The answer is, it depends.
First, make sure you can’t find the answer on your own. It may well turn up with further research. Or maybe you have a connection with someone else who could help.
Then consider how critical the information is to your piece. Is it something you could skip? If so, leave that one out.
If you end up with some outstanding questions, go ahead and send them to your client in a single, consolidated list. After all, if this is critical information, it’s far better to ask about it than guess and get it wrong.
Tip #6 — Organize
When you have all your information, organize it in a way that works for you, so you won’t waste time jumping around looking for related information later on.
Plus, the act of organizing will help pull everything together in your mind. You’ll start to think about the flow, which will speed up your writing.
And it may help you identify any gaps in your research, which are always better to know about as soon as possible.
Tip #7 — Be open to a review meeting
Once you’ve submitted your draft, you may be looking for written feedback. But what if your client wants to discuss it in a meeting?
If you prefer communicating in writing, this might feel awkward. But this is one of those times when the client is always right. After all, since your client isn’t a writer, they might prefer talking over typing. Especially if they’re looking for clarification that’s better handled as a dialogue.
Whatever the case, it’s best to work with them on this so they can provide the feedback in a way that’s most effective for them.
Tip #8 — Accept feedback graciously
Whether verbal or written, feedback is easier to take when it’s positive. But it won’t always be that way.
It’s challenging, but you also need to be gracious even if the feedback is negative.
This is even more difficult if you find out in a meeting instead of an email, and you don’t have much time to respond. But remember, you’re a professional. You know that any critiques are about the writing, not you as a person. So prepare yourself beforehand for all possibilities and remember, this is part of the learning process.
The main thing is to listen, and then revise accordingly. If you can do that, the client will likely still be very happy to have worked with you, as long as your writing meets their expectations in the end.
Tip #9 — Thank your client
However things worked out, be sure to thank your client. They did take a chance on you, and you want to acknowledge that. If you want to make an even better impression, send a handwritten note, since it will show that you put a little more time and thought into it.
Tip #10 — Lessons learned
Finally, after the project is done, be sure to review how things went.
Can you think of any ways to improve moving forward? If you hit a snag, why did it happen? What could you do differently next time? And what were the things that went well that you want to repeat? Could you make them even better?
Make note of everything you can think of, and keep it on hand for future projects.
The final tip for making your first B2B writing project successful is to simply start! Remember that no matter how it goes, this experience is a great opportunity. And you want to make the most of it, so you can skip that moment of panic when you move forward to your next opportunity.