Why Check-ins and Follow-Ups are Crucial for Freelance Writers


The digital era has opened up a wealth for writing opportunities for aspiring writers. However, this professional world requires a very different set of communication skills than most people are used to. Once you begin taking freelance writing assignments, you might discover that a lack of face time and in-person conversations can lead to major misunderstandings and little nuisances. Keeping the communication lines open, even when everything seems to be going well, is critical. We’re going to take a look at how regular check-ins and follow-ups can transform your freelance writing experience.

Never Assume

Assumptions made by both parties can kill a project. Many clients hire freelancer writers because they require little to no training – these adept individuals can just jump into a task and drive it to completion. However, companies and individual clients can make the fatal error of assuming that written directions are clear, and they might forget to provide critical assignment details. Some points will be lost in translation via digital mediums. Some writers will avoid asking questions, even if they feel uncomfortable with vague instructions or confusing details. You might feel hesitant to ask questions, because you don’t want a client to think you’re incompetent.

However, it’s better to ask early and get the job done right the first time, than to waste time and precious resources doing it wrong. Assumptions can affect the entirety of a project, and lead to tension between writers and clients. Writing that doesn’t meet a client’s expectations can cause you to sink even more time into a project, which can affect your bottom line and your reviews – even if the miscommunication was the client’s fault. Avoid making assumptions early in the game, and be sure to ask your clients and editors for clarification. In the end, they’ll be thankful when you deliver great content.

Concise Check-In Lists

It is possible to go overboard with your check-ins. Editors and clients will become frustrated and confused if you start flooding their inbox with multiple questions each day. Frantic and frequent emails can lead them to question your credibility, even if you’re just trying to cover all the bases.

Instead of spamming someone with your questions, arrange your inquiries in a single email. Open up your word processor and create a running email draft. Examine your project instructions and supplemental materials to see if you’ve missed the answers to your questions. Scratch off superficial or irrelevant items on your list. Once you’ve thoroughly examined your assignment instructions, go ahead and send your list of questions and observations to your client or editor. This gives them a single email to reply to, increasing the likelihood that you receive all the information you need.

Schedule Follow-Ups

If you’ve ever worked in a sales job, you understand the importance of follow-ups in the pipeline. Unfortunately, not enough freelance writers think about their work in business terms. You are essentially providing a service and delivering a product to your clients – whether they are individual small business owners or a large corporation.

Clients and editors often work with multiple freelancers, and they don’t keep tabs on your availability and workload. You might be sitting around with no work, bored out of your mind, while a company is anxiously seeking support. Shoot off follow up emails periodically, asking your clients and editors if they have any work. If they do, they’ll be relieved that you’re free. If they don’t have assignments, then at least they’ll know you’re available when the next batch of projects comes along. The same approach can be used with old clients – you never know when a brief follow up email will drum up new business.

Check-ins and follow-ups can build your confidence, and positively affect other areas of your life. Bold communications can help you land new gigs, make new friends, sell your home, and expand your career. The digital era is rife with writing opportunities, but these can only succeed when writers, editors, and clients have open streams of communication.

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2 responses
  1. Robyn Avatar

    Great advice Georgia,

    Communication is taken for granted often in all areas of business and person life. A quick question goes a long way. Many of us are afraid of hearing “no” but its better to get 20 “no’s” and 2 “yes’s” than no results at all.

    1. Georgia Riley Avatar
      Georgia Riley

      Couldn’t agree more!

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