I had a recent conversation with a peer who mentioned that finding good writers to work with was more than a tad difficult. She’d been disappointed time and again by writers who just weren’t what they seemed to promise.
That’s a problem. When you don’t deliver on your promises, you end up costing yourself repeat business, long-term clients and better jobs. You move from client to client with no stable customer base and no guarantees of future work.
You also screw up business for your customers as well, leaving them facing extra expenses and cleaning up a mess. You create a bad reputation for yourself – and quickly, too.
Here are three issues that my peer and I discussed so you can make sure you aren’t one of those writers who falls short and disappoints.
Reliability and Dedication
Writers often proclaim to be reliable and dedicated. Most of them aren’t. At first, they seem eager and always deliver, but within a few short months, reliability starts to slip. Deadlines aren’t met, or they’re only met at the last minute. Quality slips. They lose track of time. They answer their email more slowly. They get comfortable in a nice job working for a nice person and become flat-out flakey and lax.
Reliability is a long-term quality that you need to maintain. Your clients need to be able to count on you now, tomorrow and in a year from now.
Making Clients Work
People hire writers to do what they can’t do or what they don’t want to do. They trust that the work is going to be done well. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen often. Clients get work that they have to double-check and verify for quality, which costs time – and time is money. Even worse, many times they have to pay someone else to edit or clean up the writing, too.
If you’re going to put yourself out for hire, make sure you can do the job well. No one should have to go over your work, fix your mistakes or clean it up, no matter what type of industry you work in.
A Promising Portfolio
One of the biggest issues with many writers is that they create portfolios of their work. They put their best samples forward for all to see, and it becomes an unspoken promise of quality. But interestingly enough, many writers can’t replicate the quality of their portfolio on a regular, daily basis. Sometimes it almost appears as if someone else wrote the samples, because the writer just isn’t hitting the mark.
Your portfolio should be nearly perfect to demonstrate your skill level, but if you can’t provide the same quality when it comes down to a regular gig, you’ll just disappoint your clients.
Give a Damn
Freelancers do what they do because they love what they do – and of course, want to earn some money doing it. That’s great, but if all they have are their own self-interests at heart, that egotistical mindset is going to show up in communication, in negotiations and yes, even in their work. Guess what? Clients see it too, and they know the writers don’t care.
Your job as a writer isn’t just to make your life better. Your job includes bettering someone else’s life too, whether through increased readership, traffic or sales. Care about the effects your work has beyond your own gains.
Good Business Sense
Writers love to write. Most are terrible at business, though. They don’t schedule properly, they don’t understand the domino effect their actions create for clients, and they don’t treat their work like a serious affair. Some writers are all about the art of writing, and they forget that when it’s on a for-hire basis, art really has very little to do with it.
Freelance writing is a business, and you need to understand how business works, not just how to write. Learn about business and get a good sense of cause and effect so you can better serve your clients.
It doesn’t matter how you learned to write or where you got your skills. It doesn’t matter why you write or what you like to be paid for your work. If you’re going to put up a ‘for hire’ sign, you need to make sure that you’re worth hiring.
Your turn – can you think of other areas where writers need to sharpen up and get with the game? What are your pet peeves with writers? And even more importantly, what could you work on yourself to be a better freelancer?
Want more great advice on turning your freelancing career into a success? Check out The Unlimited Freelancer. It’ll teach you the tricks you need to know to really unleash your full potential.