Are You Afraid of Your Freelance Writing Clients?

It’s early October, which means that the build-up to Halloween has already started. I’ve been enjoying some scary movies lately and I’ve been thinking about the fact that everyone is scared of something, whether they admit it or not. My list includes heights, large bodies of water, clowns – the usual stuff.

I can also admit that I used to be intimidated by clients, both existing and prospective ones. There were a lot of gigs I didn’t apply for simply because I didn’t have the nerve to. When I got hired by people to write for them, I was scared to death I was going to make a mistake and get “fired.”

If you could have been a fly on the wall in my office back then, I’m sure it would have looked funny. I would receive an e-mail from a client that I was sure was going to contain something negative and I would hesitate to open it. I would behave as if the “Enter” key was hot and that I didn’t dare push down in it with my finger, so I would hit it quickly and then pull my hand back. Sometime it would take three or four times to open the message.

Guess what? A whole 99 percent of the time there was nothing to worry about. The other 1 percent of the time when there was an issue, the client and I worked it out.

On message boards for writers, I see a number of threads where the topic is something along the lines of, “Should I talk to/ask a client about X?” Yes, you should. If you need more information to do the work or you are having trouble accessing the client’s web site to get assignments or upload your work and the problem isn’t resolved after you try a few times, then send off an e-mail to let them know there seems to be a technical issue.

If your payment is past due, send an e-mail to follow up. If you want to be diplomatic (and I would recommend this strategy), ask the client if they need anything further on the project, which you delivered with your invoice on [date]. It may simply be an oversight, and the matter can be resolved quickly, and without having to post a thread on a message board asking if you should talk to the client. You are not asking for something you haven’t earned, after all.

It’s time for people working as freelance writers to get over the BBB (Big Bad Boss) Syndrome. You work with your client, not for them, so stand up straight and talk to them like you would a colleague. When you are responding to an ad or sending a pitch to someone, think of it as expressing your interest in an opportunity – not applying for a job.

Once you land that great gig, being polite, responsive and flexible goes a long way toward building a positive relationship where you feel more comfortable about dealing with any bumps that come up along the way.

Have you ever felt intimidated by a client? How did you deal with it?






2 responses
  1. Jeremy Powers Avatar

    I am usually more anxious with my large project clients. I offer 100% money back to unsatisfied consulting clients. So writing a business plan or marketing strategy can feel risky. I am investing significant time for significant payment.

    The most anxious moments usually come when talking with a client about their niche. Most business owners do not want to narrow their market to a manageable size. I have yet to have a client ask for a refund, but if one did, I would honor my guarantee.

    Scary stuff.

    (Nice job on the holiday-themed post.)

  2. Kenna Avatar

    Perfect timing…

    Being a writer is fun and exciting. I would never change what I do. I love it.

    But, like “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” – One particular client, when he sends me an email. Yikes! It’s like those horror movies you watch, “Don’t open the door!” while you crouch down into your sofa, hiding behind a pillow. But, the character opens the door! Yikes!

    When he sends me an email, I shudder every time. 60% of the time it’s not good. I have to renegotitate because he has a hard time communicating what he wants. But with him, it’s money. Is he making money?

    Then, I have to re-sell my work, talk myself up, double check my work — like trick or treat. I am getting wise to the situation, holding my own. Last time when he sent a horror email, I asked for more money.

    Other clients are great, cool and breezy. Not a horror movie at all. Thank goodness, it’s only one goon out of many.

    Nice topic, got me thinking…

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