One of the challenges of being a freelancer is there’s no middleman between you and clients. That means not only do you have to deliver your best work at all times, but you also have to manage expectations while you’re at it (often all via email!).
As you might expect, clients come in all shapes and sizes. However, during the time I’ve been freelancing, I’ve noticed several patterns most of them fall into. Knowing what they are and how to deal with them has been key to avoiding the loony bin.
In this article, we’re going to talk about what the most common types of freelance writing clients are, what to expect from them, and some tips to improve your relationship. Let’s get to it!
1. The Client that Asks for Ton of Revisions
Here’s a scenario that’s somewhat common – you submit a piece you’re happy with only to get it sent back for a revision by the client. That happens even to the best writers from time to time and it’s no reason to panic. The real problem comes when it keeps happening over and over again with the same client and it starts to cost you dearly in terms of time.
Since we often get paid by the word, revisions are a tricky subject. In most cases, you’ll get paid for the finished product after all the revisions involved. That means, in effect, you may end up writing a lot more than corresponds to the money you get.
Assuming you followed your client’s instructions and did your job well, revisions should be few and far in between. It’s not a good policy to deny them either, because that can cost you repeat business.
What you should do in these cases is have a clause in your contract that limits the number of revisions a client can request (one or two should be more than enough). When they do, get as much information as possible so you can make sure you get the new article perfect and everyone’s happy.
2. Those That Don’t Give You Enough Details to Do the Job
My two favorite types of freelance clients are those that tell me exactly what they want me to write and those that just give me creative freedom to come up with topics.
Finding that second type of client is pretty rare, though, so you’ll often have to settle for the first. In those cases, the more details you get, the easier your job becomes because it means the customer gets exactly what they’re looking for.
Some of the points you may want to clear up before you accept a writing gig include:
- What’s the project’s topic?
- What major points do you want me to include?
- Do you want me to take care of formatting and Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
- Do you have any style rules you’d like me to adhere to?
In some cases, you’ll run into clients that have a vague idea of what they want, but not enough to give you a full picture. When that happens, it’s up to you to coax that information out of them. To do that, make sure you explain why it’s important you have all the information you need, so you both end up satisfied with the results.
3. Clients You Have to Chase for Payment
Out of all the types of freelance writing clients you’ll run into, none are more frustrating than those you have to chase for your money. The more experience you have, the easier it becomes to spot the red flags, but it still happens on occassion.
To minimize your risk as much as possible, you’ll want to discuss payment terms in detail before you start any type of project. Make sure you cover when, how, and how much you’ll get paid, so there are no surprises down the road.
Include all that information within your freelance contract, have the client sign it, and only then start writing. It’s a lot of work to do upfront, to be sure, but it helps you weed out clients who aren’t that serious, and it’ll save you time in the long run.
4. The Ones that Never Return Your Emails
It’s never fun to be in a position where you’re trying to get a response from someone who’s ignoring you, whether it’s a potential date or a client. However, with clients, you don’t have the option to walk away after you’ve signed a contract, so it’s even more awkward.
Often, I’ve been in a position where I need more information from a client before I can proceed with a project. However, some people aren’t as good as answering emails quickly as you and I are.
On one occassion, I waited three weeks for a client to return an email with a simple one-line answer that left me having to follow up again, and delayed the project for nearly a month. He wasn’t happy, but I was clear I couldn’t proceed without more information.
In these situations, there’s very little you can do. If a client can’t or won’t get back to you soon, then you have to wait patiently. At the most, send one follow-up email after a few days, and then wait for a response.
Ideally, you’ll always have more than one project in the pipeline so it’s not a big deal if a client takes too long to answer. Just use that time to advance your other gigs. When they come back to you, keep working on theirs. Just make sure you inform those clients about any delays that might occur due to the wait, so you can avoid angry clients.
5. The Perfect Clients
There’s such a thing as perfect clients when you’re a freelance writer, or as I like to call them, unicorns. It’s pretty rare that you run into a unicorn, so here’s how you can spot them:
- They will agree to your per word rates without reservations.
- They’ll set reasonable deadlines for any projects together.
- You’ll get a decent (if not full) amount of creative freedom.
- They’ll answer your emails promptly (and expect the same from you).
- You won’t have to chase them for payments.
During my years as a freelance writer, I’ve only run into this type of client a handful of times. In some cases, I was lucky enough to score long-term gigs with them, which made life much easier.
Sooner or later, if you keep at writing, you’ll find your own unicorns if you look in the right places. By that time, you’ll have dealt with all sorts of clients, so you should be prepared to appreciate them and make sure you deliver the best possible work.
Most freelance clients require a soft touch and plenty of attention. That means follow-up emails, knowing how to get information out of them, sending reminders about invoices, and more. However, the more you build up your reputation, the better clients you tend to attract overall.
If you’re lucky enough to run into clients that trust you to do your job with minimal supervision, give you creative freedom, and pay on time, you have hit the lottery. Those are few and far in between, so make sure to keep those around.
Do you have any questions about how to deal with freelance writing clients? Let’s go over them in the comments section below!
Image credit: Pixabay.