client management

When Freelance Writing Jobs Go Terribly Wrong: Steal My Recovery Plan

Recovery strategies for screwed up freelance writing jobs. Makealivingwriting.com

Ever have one of your freelance writing jobs turn into a total disaster? It happens, even to experienced writers.

I know, because it recently happened to me. After roughly 18 years of freelancing.

This flameout happened on a $3,000 corporate research report project that required intensive interviewing. I’d done these sort of projects in the past, loved them, was excited to do another one.

Then I did my research, put my list of possible interview subjects together, sent out hundreds of inquiries — roughly triple what I’d needed in the past to land the 6-8 interviews required — and got zero responses. Not. A. One.

It’s been a long time since one of my freelance writing jobs ended in failure. In fact, I’d only ever had one other article that got killed, at the very beginning of my career. Having a complete whiff this late in my career was a humbling experience.

What should you do if the worst happens and one of your freelance writing jobs gets screwed up? Here’s my guide to keeping it professional and minimizing the damage, when everything that could go wrong does:

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How I Turned One Failed Article into Two Big Writing Assignments

FailureI was down to the wire.

The clock was running out, and I had to get this piece — my first-ever paid blog post — to my editor in New York by 5 p.m. The menu bar on my laptop read 1:33 p.m. Pacific time, giving me less than half an hour to clean up my act and hit SEND like a champion.

I know what you’re thinking. I should’ve started earlier, right?

But the problem wasn’t that I had too little. I had too much.

How much?

About double the target word count.

My undoubtedly brilliant article comparing toilets around the world (we’re talkin’ pure glamour here, folks!) was way too long, and I could already hear that horrible sound in the distance: a New York City toilet flushing, with all my hard work―and my paycheck!―swirling down with it.

Instead of giving up, I got my piece into my editor‘s inbox within 27 minutes. And I got paid. Twice.

Here’s the strategy that saved the day.

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Is Your Writing Client Having a Crisis? Here’s How to Stay Sane

Young aggressive businesswoman screaming in mobile phone

If you’re a freelance writer, this is going to happen:

You get a freelance writing client, and you’re all excited. You think this is going to be great!

Then, the wheels come flying off. Everything changes.

Your client has a big problem — and they want you to drop everything and solve it. Next, if you’re not careful, you end up underpaid and overworked. Here’s how to resist the pressure, keep your head, and turn this situation to your advantage:

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How a Mean Editor Helped Me Triple My Writing Income

Closeup portrait of young mad, frustrated angry woman yelling while on a phone isolated on white background. Negative human emotions, facial expressions, feelings. Communication, conflict resolutionIt seemed like a dream come true.

I landed a high-paying blogging gig on a popular software blog. I knew that the clients I wanted read this site, so they’d see my name there and come to me with gigs.

In my mind, this was the break I was looking for to make it big as a business writer. I felt like I’d finally made it as a professional freelance writer.

But it didn’t take me long to figure out it wasn’t the absolute dream job. The editor was nasty. Here’s how I handled it — and how it helped me in the long run:

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Do You Attract Bad Freelance Clients? 3 Fixes

Freelance writer attracts clients who pay pennies

Nearly every freelance writer I’ve ever met has had a bad client.

You know the types:

  • The control freak who wants to instant-message you 24/7.
  • The dreamer who wants the moon, but doesn’t have time to tell you how to fly there and get it for them.
  • The dysfunctional nutjob who doesn’t really know *what* they want…until they see what you wrote. Then they know, that’s not it.
  • The fly-by-night who disappears with your final payment.
  • Last but certainly not least, the super-low payer.

Hopefully, terrible clients are a rarity for you.

But some freelancers find themselves with a steady stream of bad clients. It’s nothing but bad clients, one after the other.

If this is happening to you, there are three changes you may need to make. Fortunately, they’re fairly simple. Changing these up should help you start getting clients who pay you well and are a pleasure to work with.

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5 Idiot Blunders I Made on My First White Paper Writing Assignment

Freelance writer makes a mistake

One of the biggest moves a freelance writer can make to earn more is to move into better-paying types of writing.

When you go from, say, writing $20 blog posts to writing white papers that can pay $1,500-$10,000, it’s a big leap.

Of course, a lot can also go wrong when you step into a new, more sophisticated kind of writing that you haven’t done before. But if you want to earn more, at some point you have to buck up your courage and go for it.

A few years back, I fell into an opportunity to write my first white paper, when a writer I knew referred me for the project. I’d heard this was a great-paying writing niche, and I was dying to sink my teeth into one of these big, detailed projects.

Even though I hadn’t written white papers before, I was tapped because the topic was a big company’s nonprofit efforts — which I’d covered in the past, as a reporter. So I knew the end client and what we’d be documenting fairly well.

Maybe that made me a little overconfident. I made a boatload of rookie mistakes that made this first $2,500 white paper gig a lot more unpleasant and lengthy than it should have been.

And I never ended up working for this client again. So. Relationship blown.

Where did it all go wrong? Let me count the ways…

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