Ask any writer about their worst writing job — and they’ve got a story to tell.
If you’re a freelance writer for any length of time, some gig will go sideways on you. That’s just how it is.
The key is not to see that worst-case experience as an indicator of your skills, or a referendum on your future potential as a writer.
It’s just…business. Things go wrong. Misunderstandings happen. Everybody has a bad day.
Because so many writers seem to be devastated when they bomb at a gig, I thought it might be useful to collect worst-client stories and let writers compare notes. I thought we could collect them in the comments on this post.
So I’m having a contest! Details are below. But first, I thought I’d kick this off by sharing my own worst writing job stories.
I’ve been at this so long, it’s hard for me to pick an all-time worst writing job. I’ve got five nominees — maybe you can tell me.
- The brushoff. One of my first business writing clients agreed to $600 for a brochure — then decided to simply not pay me. “I feel really good about my decision,” she blithely told me. It was the ’80s. Feelings were big.
- The blowhard. Was it perhaps the guy who wanted to shout all his instructions to me on speakerphone, while he walked on his treadmill and listened to Rush Limbaugh at full volume? (This was a short relationship.)
- The tech-picky. Or maybe the woman who fired me from a Microsoft-contractor writing gig when I told her my home scanner was broken. (“You don’t understand how I need to work,” she told me.)
- The scope-creep kings. Then there’s the company that told me they wanted the same sort of blog posts I was doing for Entrepreneur — but turned out to really want posts that were twice as long, in which I ghostwrote for them in the voices of several different team members. When I suggested the fee should be quite a bit higher, they stopped returning my calls.
- The non-starter. Finally, and most recently, there was the company who wanted a quality-of-management research report for $3,000. These involve developing hundreds of leads you contact, and getting at least a half-dozen of these former employees of a publicly traded company CEO to tell you what they thought were the business leader’s management strengths and weaknesses. They approached me last summer. I’d done these before, and liked the work.I worked on this for over a month, and couldn’t get one single person to talk to me. None! Total loss. The company was understanding, and nice enough to let me keep my deposit because they knew I’d put in about 80 hours of work on it, and I offered to share my notes so the next writer wouldn’t waste time calling the same no-talkers I’d hit.I felt…awful. I never say die on an assignment — I always keep going and get the job done. And this one defeated me. Did I mention that they courted me for three months before we finally inked this deal? Yeah.
If you were thinking that seasoned writers never have writing jobs go bad, now you know. It happens to us all.
The contest: Tell us your worst writing job stories
Now that I’ve got you rolling, I want to hear your worst writing job stories. Here are the contest rules and prizes!
- Post your worst client story here in the comments or on my Facebook page.
- Only one entry per person.
- Limit 200 words.
- Contest ends: Monday (January 23, 2017) at midnight Eastern. I’ll come back and post the winner in the comments on Tuesday.
What can you win with your wretched tale of your most awful client ever? Here’s the lineup:
Grand prize: A 30-minute mentoring session with me and copies of ALL 9 of my currently available ebooks.
Runner up 1: A 30-minute coaching call with me plus all 4 Freelance Writers Den ebooks.
Runner up 2: A 30-minute coaching call.
Good luck, everyone! And here’s to great clients to come.
UPDATE: The Winners!
I’m back to announce the winners of this contest. Thanks to all for some amazing stories, and great lessons in what NOT to do. 😉
Grand prize: Esther Copeland, for her horrifying tale of working 1.5 YEARS without pay and being stiffed to the tune of nearly $80,000.
Runner up: Samita Sarkar, who entered on my Facebook page, for her story of the client who turned into a stalker.
2nd Runner up: Lana, for her tale of the client that freaked out over how fast her great post was indexed on Google…and ended up winning a refund through her payment processor, despite all work being done to the client’s satisfaction.
P.S. If you’d like a lot better clients, you might want to check out the free training video featured below: