Ever had a client who was a total nightmare? If you do even a handful of freelance writing jobs, it’s bound to happen.
They don’t know what they want. Their deadline is yesterday. You’re getting gang-edited by a team of five.
Since I’ve been at this a long time, I’ve pretty much had every flavor.
But what’s your worst story? I’ve decided to collect them all here on the blog comments (yes, they’re open again for this post!), so other writers can learn the red flags to watch out for.
What’s in it for you? You could win a free year in my freelance writer community, among other goodies.
How do you win? Here are the rules:
Keep your essay to 100 words or less
Describe your worst client experience
Post in the comments below, or on Facebook or LinkedIn (look for the post graphic from this post on both social-media platforms and comment on that thread). Rules and prizes…
Are you tired of working teeny, one-off writing jobs for small publications and one-horse businesses? To get the best freelance clients, you’ll have to stop wasting time on the small fry and target a whole different category of prospect.
These terrific clients aren’t in one particular industry, but spread through every type of business and organization. These are clients where the amount you earn from them tends to grow effortlessly over time. Unlike most of the solopreneur types, who tend to sputter out and go bust. Right?
The best freelance clients all have a single trait in common. Target only organizations that have this trait, and it will help you find ongoing work at great rates.
Let me introduce you to one of the best client types out there, no matter what type of freelance writing you do.
I can still remember how excited I was to get my first freelance writing job. It was an essay for an alternative paper in Los Angeles that paid $200.
Over the moon! You know I ran right down to my nearest mini-mart, the hour those papers got delivered, to grab myself a few copies.
Then, I followed up on that by doing…nothing.
When you’re just starting out, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of seeing your name in print, or getting that first client check. And to be a bit in the dark about what to do next, to keep building career momentum.
There are some key moves to make right after getting that first gig that can help you build your career faster — steps that most newbies don’t take. (I know I didn’t!)
Want to get some real mileage out of your first freelance writing jobs? Here’s what to do right after your work gets published:
Maybe it’s your first client meeting ever, and you’re petrified that you don’t know what to say. And you’ll come across like a dummy.
Or maybe you’ve taken scores of client meetings as a freelance writer — but you keep shooting blanks, and walking away without an assignment.
If you’re an experienced freelance writer, perhaps you’ve left too many first client meetings with the sneaky feeling that you’ve just been milked for an hour of free consulting. You could have charged hundreds for the advice, but you just gave it away, in hopes of impressing your prospect — and still didn’t get the gig.
If you’re any of these writers, I’ve got a piece of advice that’s going to save you time and help you land more clients.
You see, there’s a balance you need to strike in first client meetings between impressing the prospect that you’re smart, and being too helpful. So helpful that they get all the info they need in the meeting, and don’t have to hire you.
How can you impress clients fast, without giving away all your secrets? Here’s my approach:
It’s a question every working freelance writer faces: You get a client nibble, they explain their writing needs, say what they’ll pay, and then you have to decide. Should I take this writing job, or turn it down?
I’ve spent the past decade coaching writers on how to sift through all the aspects of an offer and make the right choice for their situation. There are a lot of different aspects to consider, to figure out whether a gig is right for you.
And no, being desperate and simply taking every gig you’re offered–no matter how tiny the pay or stressful the working conditions–doesn’t work out well. You need to have standards!
Recently, I realized I could boil down the factors you need to consider into three basic categories. These questions reveal the odds that a gig will be a positive experience. The infographic below breaks down the issues you need to consider, and helps you see where the red flags are.
Should you take this writing job? Ask yourself the questions below:
They pay late, or too little. They’re not sure what they want. They’re unavailable when you have questions, and sometimes downright abusive when they do pick up the phone. They’re clients from hell, and as a freelancer, you just don’t need this grief.
And yet, tales of client woes are an epidemic in the freelance world. Stories of the best friend you went to work for, who underpaid you for years. Or the company that never raised your rates, even as your responsibilities grew. The one that disappeared with your big final payment.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could avoid freelance writing clients from hell like these?
Well, for the most part, you can! There are some classic warning signs that things will go wrong — if you know what to look for.
Here’s my guide to quickly screening out losers: