There are three super important questions that every copywriter should be asking their clients, but most don’t.

If you have already found my copywriting questionnaire, then you’re already using two of these, but I’ve actually since added a third to the lineup…

And I’m a little embarrassed it’s taken me this long.

In today’s episode of Write Bites, we’re going to cover exactly what these three critical questions are.

This episode of Write Bites is sponsored by Copy.AI – a toolkit that helps writers, marketers, and freelancers harness the power of GPT-3 to quickly create first draft copy for their businesses and clients. Click here to try Copy.AI free.

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Let’s talk about three super important questions that every copywriter should be asking their clients, but most don’t.

If you have already found my copywriting questionnaire, then you’re already using two of these, but I’ve actually since added a third to the lineup and I’m a little embarrassed it’s taken me this long.

This is a super important question that I personally added after publishing that questionnaire and just completely forgot to add to the lineup.

I’m adding it in now, and this video is my way of highlighting to you that it’s there, that it’s super critical and that you need to be asking every single client you work with this question.

So with that said, let’s dive in.

This episode is sponsored byCopy.AI, a toolkit that helps writers, marketers and freelancers skip writer’s block completely and quickly create first draft copy for themselves and their clients.

If you’d like to get a 30-day free trial, head on over to and sign up there.

Question #1: What Businesses Do You Like And Want To Emulate In Some Way?

Now, this is a super important question because what people tell you they like and what they actually like are often completely different things.

so you can ask clients all day long, what they want to see in their copy, and they’ll give you all sorts of feedback, but when you actually look at the real examples that they actually like – when they point to a website or a brand or messaging and say “Hey, we like this” – that’s when you know they actually like it.

I can tell you: I’ve had so many clients who will sit there and talk all day about how they want their copy to be bold and aggressive, or interesting, or artistic, or something, something, something that’s outside of the norm…

And then when I asked them “Show me the brands you want to emulate”, they send me to cookie-cutter brands that have very straightforward, industry -average types of messaging.

And I know from experience that the clients who say they want bold, they say they want artistic, but then point to examples that are none of those things?

At the end of the day, when I send them the copy, they’re going to want the example that they pointed to, not the actual adjectives they use to describe their requests.


Always, always, always – regardless of what the client tells you, no matter how effusive they are on the call, no matter how passionate they are about their desire for this, that, or the other in their copy – ask them for the examples.

Make them show you the brands they like.

Make them show you the businesses they want to emulate.

Take that as the baseline.

And then try to incorporate small little bits of what they’ve requested.

But as a general rule you want to use the examples they point to as the core foundation of the copy…

Not what they say they want when you’re having the discussion or when they’re just generally describing what they think they want in their copy.

Question #2: Who Are Your Biggest Competitors?

Okay, number two.

The next question you need to be asking is:

Who are your biggest competitors?

Our goal and asking the first question was to determine what are the subjective qualities that are going to make the client happy.

Our goal with this second question is to find out what’s actually moving the needle in this industry.

When someone tells you who their biggest competitors are (unless they’re just completely ignorant of the niche), they’re going to be pointing to the people who are making the most money in the space, the people who are actually getting results.

And you want to be looking at those people and informing how you approach this niche, because they’ve already figured it out.

They already know it’s working.

And you can reverse-engineer what those competitors are doing in planning out the framework or the core points of the copy that you’re going to do.

Obviously you can’t just come in and copy the value proposition or things like that, because that’s going to be obvious when you’re a direct competitor.

What I’m talking about is more identifying the core pain points that these brands are really leaning in on, the core benefits that they seem to emphasize, style or general tone, things like that: anything that’s transferable across to the copy that you’re going to write without actually copying what they’re saying.

Use the winners in the space to inform your strategy, while also taking into account the more subjective goals of the client.

That’s one of the challenges that you face as a freelance service provider. Ultimately, the client is the one paying you money, but the copy you’re writing is going to their clients, their customers.

So you sort of have to try to make it work on two levels, because if you make something that’s perfect for the actual end user, but the client doesn’t like it, it’s never going to get to the end user.

And vice versa.

If you just make something that gets the client happy: yes, you’re going to get paid and they’re going to be happy.

And that’s probably a better outcome than the former I just mentioned. But you know, you want to provide them with something that’s actually going to work for their clients as well.

Because when your copy performs well…

It’s going to help accelerate your brand.

It’s going to give you case studies.

It’s going to make the client even happier than just, you know, whatever Goodwill they get from liking it.

You’re trying to hit both of those metrics and these first two questions allow you to do so.

Now, as I mentioned before, both of those questions have already been on my questionnaire.

If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you are hopefully using those in your own client interactions and have been for some time.

Now we get to question number three, one that I should have added a long time ago…

And that question is:

Question #3: What’s The Best Way For Me To Review Direct Feedback From Your Best Customers Or Clients?

This is one of those things that historically I’ve more asked separate from the questionnaire.

That’s the reason it didn’t make it onto the questionnaire in the original draft that I published.

I’ve realized since that that’s a mistake.

One of the significant aspects of how I use my questionnaire in my copywriting workflow is that I do not start the project until I get those answers back.

Most clients, if you don’t require them to meet a certain milestone before you start the work. it’s anyone’s guess whether they will ever send it to you… and if they do, when.

So making sure that (in that questionnaire) you are starting the process of getting access to that direct customer feedback is huge.

I’ve said this many times before, and I will continue to say it till the day I die:

Third-party research that you can do on the niche is suboptimal.

It’s not great.

It’s better than nothing, but it is drastically inferior to direct first-person feedback.

You want to see:

What motivated them to make this purchase?

How do they feel about it?

What were the challenges that they’ve solved with it?

That’s where you’re going to get your best ammunition to use in writing the copy: way better than anything you’re going to find doing third-party research.

So make sure that getting access to that direct customer feedback is something that you begin the process of directly in the questionnaire and really follow up on.

Make sure you get that info when possible.

It’s not always going to be possible.

There will be clients who are just starting out, or have not had very good feedback collection and just aren’t going to be able to offer you much.

And obviously, you just deal with that and do what you can.

Any place where the client has any sort of direct customer feedback available…

You’re doing yourself and the client a huge disservice to not utilize that as much as possible.

So make sure you add that third question if you haven’t already.

If you haven’t been using any of these questions, start doing so right now!

It’s going to make a massive difference in the quality of work that you can do for your clients…

And honestly, just the overall experience and smoothness of working with the client in the first place.

So, I hope that helped and I’ll catch you in the next episode.

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Share Your Thoughts

I hope this was helpful, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

Do you agree? Do you disagree with the fierce heat of a thousand suns?

Let me know in the comments below.

Plus, if you have a question you want answered on a future Write Bites episode, ask in the comments or shoot me an email, and I’ll add it to the schedule.

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