You’ve been writing for a client for a while, and suddenly, they no longer require your services. It doesn’t matter whether or not it was your fault – it’s still a troubling situation to be in. Take a few deep breaths before you hit the panic switch. It can be hard to remember that losing one client is not losing your entire career, and you should be able to successfully rebound from your loss. Once you’ve calmed down about the loss, it’s time to figure out where you should go from here. [Read more…]
There seems to be two kinds of freelancers when it comes to the beginning to a career: those who are afraid to take on more than a single project at a time and those who jump in so deep that they are drowning in orders before they know what they are doing. Most commonly, it is the first type that we see. While freelancers have the ability to do more than one order at once, they are terrified of the risk or missing a deadline to take the chance.
But here is a secret that most freelancers who have been in the business for a while are aware of: You won’t reach full earning potential until you move past this fear, simply because you waste time that could be broken up among multiple orders trying to find one new project at a time.
If you are thinking of finally getting more than one client at a time, here are five tips to help you do so more smoothly. [Read more…]
Turning in an assignment is the goal of pretty much every freelancer. It’s the moment where they can send their invoice, collect payment and, generally make a living. If you don’t reach this point regularly, you’ll likely soon find yourself looking for another career.
That being said, the moment you turn in your assignment is also something of a point of no return. Once you send the email, share the Google Doc or otherwise turn in what you have completed, you’ve not only submitted that work for revenue, you’ve also distributed it to a third party, an important step legally and it is generally the final step before the work is sent out to the much broader public.
As such, before you click “submit”, it’s worthwhile to take a moment, evaluate your work and make sure that you don’t find yourself in any legal trouble for your work.
After all, the last thing you want is for something you submit to come back and bite you and/or your client after it’s published online. With that in mind, here are five questions you should ask every time you get ready to submit a new article, just to make sure you’re on the right side of the law. [Read more…]
Recently Carson Brackney wrote this wonderful article about getting more work from existing clients. The advice he gives is excellent, and I have followed most of it unconsciously for some time, but it got me thinking about what happens on the opposite end of the spectrum when we must deal with an unresponsive client.
This has been on my mind recently because I have been worrying about a client who suddenly dropped off the face of the earth. Fortunately, he went incommunicado shortly after he paid the balance he owed me on our latest project, so I’m not concerned about chasing down my money. But now I can’t reach him through email or the phone, and he hasn’t returned my messages. Of course, I haven’t been pestering him; I’ve kept my correspondence polite and professional, and it has been just enough to let him know that I’m thinking of him and his business.
But still, I’ve been frustrated with the potential loss of more work and income. When the client and I first discussed working together, he described three other projects that he wanted me to help him accomplish, one of which sounded like a steady weekly gig, and so I had looked forward to the future income. I’m still hopeful, but every day that my messages go unanswered my hope weakens.
So, at what point do you tie up the loose end and amicably severe the relationship? At what point does the worrying about the client become more than a simple worry? Naturally, several factors will influence your decision. You must evaluate your other projects, their current income, and their earning potential, and weigh it against this current problem project. If you have other clients from whom you feel you can expect future work, then perhaps your efforts should focus on them and you can take a loss here. Also, you should consider the professional relationship you had with the silent client. Was he or she a joy to work with on past assignments? Did you collaborate well on projects or were you mostly on your own, struggling to understand your client’s needs? If the client was someone with whom you worked well, it might be worth it to stick it out a little longer. After all, everyone goes through weird slumps once in a while. And finally, how could severing the relationship harm your ‘brand,’ especially if you work in a specific niche? Could you get away with not severing the relationship, but merely leaving the ball in the client’s court?
In my case, I have decided to write the client one last email and let him decide what to do. I’ll be sure to thank him for his business. I’ll tell him that I’m currently ready to begin work on the other three projects, and that he can contact me when and if he wishes to pursue those projects. I’m happy with the current state of my freelance business, so I’ve decided to no longer worry about this one project. I like to think that I’m not cutting the link; I’m simply unhooking it for now.
This guest post is contributed by Olivia Coleman, who writes on the topics of online colleges and universities. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo Credits: Photo by RW Photobug.
Now, it’s on to the next gig! That’s bad.
Well, it’s not really bad to move on to another gig. It’s just bad to look at assignments as one-off opportunities.
Most of the freelancers I know don’t make that mistake. They follow up with previous clients. They make calls or send emails, trying to scare up a little more work. They do a decent job of reminding the client to get in touch the next time he or she needs something.
That approach will create return customers and it’s something every freelancer should be doing. In fact, writers should have an organized system to maintain regular contact with past customers.
I don’t think it’s enough. Getting work is wonderful, making it is even better. Writers need to put their creative thinking, experience and skills to work to create new projects.
Your client is in the famed widget industry. She asked you to revamp ten pages of web content. You did a great job. The two of you got along very well and you’re pretty sure she’s going to contact you the next time she needs something.
Then, you happen to read a news article about these shoddy little Sri Lankan widgets that are flooding the marketplace. Apparently, these knock-off widgets don’t perform particularly well, but it’s hard to tell them apart from the world-class Canadian widgets your client sells.
You could hope that she sees a need to address the Sri Lankan widget invasion in a way that necessitates your golden pen. You could even send her a copy of the article along with a note mentioning your availability if she has plans to address the controversy. Alternatively, you could try to create new work.
What would happen if you sent that article along with a note outlining a way she could make a little lemonade from the Sri Lankan lemons? Let’s say you pitched her on the idea of a press release related to her commitment to maintaining only Grade-A Canadian inventory in the face of the weak widget onslaught. What if you mentioned the potential value of an additional page of site content about the matter? Do you think she might be interested in hiring you to ghostwrite consumer-friendly copy on the topic for syndication?
Obviously, we don’t always get lucky enough to see a client forced to fend off an invasion of Sri Lankan widgets. We can’t always turn morning headlines into new work. Sometimes, we might need to think a little harder.
Let’s say you have a system for maintaining regular client contact (again, if you don’t, you need to get your butt in gear). Consider making a point of proposing a new project to each and every client the next time each is due for an email or a call. Instead of sending a “just checking in with you” note, you’ll send them an actual idea that you can implement for them, along with a price tag.
When you’re writing, you’re learning. You know your client’s products, niches and approaches. You’re always working and you’re adding new tools to your writing workshop every day. You’re constantly coming up with clever ideas of some sort. When you add all of that together, you should be able to come up with something that will appeal to your client. Even if you miss the mark ever-so-slightly, there’s a good chance your idea will spur them to think of something they’d like you to do.
I recently worked with someone who uses Craigslist on a regular basis (no, not in some kind of “spam every city with my next golden multi-level-marketing scheme” way). During the larger project, I realized that he wasn’t getting the most out of Craigslist and introduced him to a number of design and copy improvements that have really, really worked well. I created another job for myself while finishing the first one.
I also created several other jobs because of it. I went through my client file and approached six who make (or who could make) use of Craigslist and introduced them to the concept. I explained what we could do and why it would work–without handing them an instruction manual, so to speak–and gave them a price tag for the service.
Here’s what I received in response: Two declined. One said “maybe”. Two said “yes”. One hasn’t answered yet.
I can live with that. Two new chunks of work–all because I “came up” with something new for another client and thought of ways the others could benefit from the strategy.
Marketing isn’t all about finding new clients. It’s about helping your existing and former clients, too. If you take care of them and take the initiative, it shows your genuine commitment to their success and your continued interest in their niche. Plus, you already know them, what they do and what the need! Talk about hot leads!
There’s nothing wrong with finding new clients and new markets for your work. Just don’t forget about the folks you already know and love.
Does everyone tell you you’re lucky because you’re able to make a successful living as a freelance writer? Are constantly reminded of your “luck” because you’re able to work at home, support your family and still have some money left over for fun? Do your fellow freelance writers discuss your luck at finding high paying clients or having a kickass marketing plan?
My friend, that’s not luck. It’s your hard work paying off.
I don’t know why we write off someone else’s success as “luck,” especially when it’s clear that person put a lot of time and effort into reaching his level of achievement.
- Luck is overnight success. Hard work is finding success after working every single day for months and years.
- Luck is wining the lottery. Hard work is blogging eight hours each day to build up traffic, community and revenue and finally seeing rewards years later.
- Luck is landing the first client you contact upon starting your career. Hard work is keeping that client even five years later.
- Luck is receiving a reward from no effort on your part. Hard work is a steady buildup leading to something even more rewarding.
I think we’re inclined to say people are “lucky” when they’re more successful because it makes us feel better about not achieving the same level of success. Maybe it’s time to stop griping about other people’s “luck” and make our own.
Before you write off someone else’s good fortune as “luck” research what went into the end result. I think you’ll probably find out it wasn’t luck at all.
Freelance writing clients are smart cookies. Most of them know when they’re being conned or lied to. In today’s public and open world of freelancing, you can’t call in sick and head to the beach. You can’t claim an aunt died when you really just want a few days off. If you’re going to lie to your clients, keep in mind that in most cases they’ll find out.
Don’t Invite Clients to View Your Personal Details if You’re Going to Be Dishonest
As freelance writers we work hard, but we still maintain flexible schedules. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to take time off any time we like. Still, sometimes opportunities present themselves or we find ourselves not wanting or not able to work while still being on deadline. Instead of planning ahead or rearranging their schedules, some freelancers will make up little fibs about not delivering to clients as promised. Back in the day, clients would be none the wiser unless they ran into their writers in an elevator or something. Nowadays, it’s easy to catch on.
If a writer claims to be too sick to work yet talks often on Twitter and Facebook about having lunch with the girls or going to a party that night, the client will find out if he or she is a follower in said networks. If you’re photographed being in one place while begging out of another place, and said image appears on a popular blog or website, your client is sure to find out about it. If you publicly do or say something and others talk about it, your clients could find out.
Today’s freelance writers are living very public lives, even if they don’t want to be public people. Now, there are steps you can take to prevent private details from becoming public, but when it comes to your business honesty is always the best policy. Also, if writers don’t want their clients to find out what they’re doing during their down time, it’s best to either create a separate business account on the social networks, or don’t allow or invite clients to participate in private Facebook discussions.
How to Freelance Writers Can Be Flexible and Honest at the Same Time
So you’re working, and a friend calls and asks if you want to take a day off and go shopping. You’re on deadline and really can’t go, but the idea of going is so appealing and distracting you want to blow off the deadline anyway. Now you’ll have to make some excuses to your client.
Or how about this one:
You have several clients. Some are more lucrative than others. As a result the “big” clients get all your attention while the smaller clients get the shaft. You often tell the people you work for your child is sick or you’re having school emergencies but discuss online how busy you are with other client projects. Eventually the shafted clients come to realize this and end the relationship.
And what about:
You’re busy. You’re so busy you can’t possible keep up with all the work. You don’t want to give up your clients because you need the money, but you’re increasingly less reliable. You have constant excuses and your client is getting frustrated.
What’s a better way to handle these scenarios?
- Don’t leave deadlines to the last minute: Being busy is cool and all, but when you’re so swamped each bit of writing is turned in at the very last minute, you’re never going to have any time for fun. Assess your client situation and your schedule to see how you can work it so that your projects are all ahead of your deadlines. This will allow for better flexibility and if you want to blow off work for a day you’re not going to lose your client.
- Don’t go shopping: Seriously. Flexibility rocks and all, but if you’re going to keep blowing off clients in favor of fun things to do, you have no business freelancing anyway.
- Be flexible with your flexibility: Blowing off work in favor of a fun day is cool and all, but who says you have to blow anything off? Instead of dropping everything and running off with your BFFs, ask if you can meet in a few hours after you complete deadlines. Or leave early. Attend whatever it is you want to attend but leave yourself enough time to come back and complete the work in time to save the gig. No one says you have to miss deadlines in order to do fun things anyway.
- Plan ahead: Spontaneity is fun and all, but sometimes you have to plan your fun. Suggest to your friend, “I really do want to take a day to go shopping but I’m on deadline today, can we do it Friday?” You can also set aside a specific time each week to do a non-writing related activity and plan your schedule accordingly.
- Don’t talk about what you’re doing if you’re gong to lie to people: A day at the beach is fun and all, but if you’re going to screw off on a project and make a lame excuse, don’t post photos to your Facebook if your client has access to your account. Don’t Tweet. Don’t Foursquare. Don’t do it.
- Don’t deliver what you can’t promise: Having lots of clients is lucrative and all, but blowing off one client in favor of another is only going to mean you’re going to lose a client. If you can’t do the work be honest with your clients. Let them hire someone who is more into their projects and truly has their best interests at heart.
What to Do if Your Client Catches You in a Lie
So…you decide to blow off work in favor of a day at the beach but you have a project that absolutely must go to a client TODAY. You jot a brief note explaining some vague family emergency, send it off to your client and rush off. You check in at the beach using FourSquare and Tweet about a sandcastle contest. You even post images and updates on Facebook. Your client sees some of your activity and calls you on it. What do you do?
That’s it. No explanation necessary. Apologize. Let your freelance writing client know you were unprofessional. You might also offer a discount or freebie for blowing the deadline, but you have no choice but to say your sorry. Don’t lie again or make up lame excuses to cover for your original lame excuses, because now you breached the trust factor. If your client doesn’t dump you might, try offering some sort of reparation. Chances are though, that the damage is already done.
Apologize and use as a lesson learned.
Sometimes writers take advantage of “nice” clients because they don’t complain or they’re very understanding when deadlines are missed. After the first few times this happens it becomes apparent the writer has more important or interesting priorities and the freelance writing client gets a bit frustrated. Choose your clients wisely. If you find yourself lying to them or making constant excuses, it’s probably time for one of you to move on.
Have you ever lied to a client? What the circumstances? Were you ever caught in a lie?
I don’t gripe about my clients on my blog. Other people do. In fact, I see a great deal of grousing about PITA clients on freelance writing blogs.
Sometimes, these complaints are presented as part of an educational effort. You know, “this is how to handle a bad situation” stuff. There’s a moral to the story, so to speak. That makes sense to me.
In other cases, it the posts read more like invitations to commiseration. Sometimes, they’re nothing more than cathartic rants. I guess I can understand the underlying sentiments in these situations, but I can’t really imagine myself doing something like that.
It’s not that I don’t occasionally get PO’d, mind you. I just tend to reserve my moaning for those unlucky people in my more immediate social circle. There’s nothing fundamentally wrong about releasing steam in public, it’s just not part of my personality, I guess. Plus, I know it isn’t part of my business plan.
I thought I’d take a little time today to argue against publicly railing against your annoying clients–even if you make every effort to keep their identifying information under wraps.
My clients read my blog. They don’t necessarily subscribe to the RSS feed and drop everything when they notice a new post, but I know that they check in with some regularity. They mention posts in our conversations, etc.
I’d hate to alienate or upset any of them by calling them out in public. Even if I didn’t share their name, business type, info about the project, etc., they’d know that I was raking them over the coals for the world to see instead of handling the situation with a one-on-one conversation.
Additionally, I realize that I have imperfections and that I make mistakes. I’d hate to stumble upon their post about “my dumb-ass writer who apparently didn’t bother to read the last page of the project specs because I’m now waiting for editing so I can have the stuff this afternoon instead of using it this morning, as originally planned.”
If I screw something up, I don’t really need to encounter our dirty laundry in the public sphere, even if my name isn’t Sharpied on the waistband of the undies for all to read.
I also realize that some of the stuff that can drive me up the wall is nothing more than pure accident or a byproduct simple communication failure. In other cases, I’ve found that PITAs can be resolved rather easily with a little quality back-and-forth.
Venting doesn’t seem to contribute much to problem resolution. If someone irritates me, I can let loose with a stream of expletives down here in the office where no one else is going to hear them.
I’m anything but a doormat. I don’t do the subservience thing and I’m more than ready to stick up for myself if I’m being wronged. I just don’t see the value of doing it in a public setting. It feels rude to me, and I generally have a high threshold for rudeness.
Additionally, I know that some clients find me via my blog and that others look it over after receiving a referral before they contact me.
I can see how railing on bad clients could turn them off. Who wants to volunteer to work with someone who makes a point of publicly mocking or criticizing his or her clients, right?
You can argue that posts like that might send a message–that you expect a certain standards of behavior and professionalism from those with whom you work. That’s not a horrible argument, but I wonder how many prospective clients are more likely to see those gripe posts an indication that the writer is a cantankerous PITA.
Besides, it seems much more reasonable to outline expectations in one-on-one discussions. Heck, you could even outline them on a separate page of your site/blog if you feel that strongly about some issues.
Let’s say I needed to find a lawyer. I wouldn’t be magnetically attracted to the shyster with a blog post about “his stupid client who apparently doesn’t want to win this case, based on his unwillingness or inability to provide me with the necessary documentation.” I’d look for someone slightly more professional who didn’t seem quite as likely to fly off the handle if it took me a few days to find a receipt from 2002.
I don’t think I’d set up an appointment with the insurance agent who blogged about “annoying customers who take a high deductible to save money on their monthly bill and then gripe about it when they have a claim.” I’d avoid an accountant who mocked clients for misunderstanding their potential deductions, too.
In other words, I just can’t believe that openly grousing about your clients does much to encourage business.
At the same time, I really do enjoy reading Kathy Kehrli’s Irreverent Freelancer, where she makes a point of raking lousy would-be clients over the coals. I also do see the value in revealing atrocious experiences so that others can learn and benefit from them. Obviously, I can’t consider myself a hardliner on this.
So, I’ll dump it in your laps… What do you think about it? Do these public attacks on frustrating clients serve a greater good that justifies the potential downside? Are there particular standards that writers should follow when calling out a bad apple from their client barrel?