Having a Personal Crisis? How to Deal and Keep your Freelance Writing Clients

In a perfect world, your personal and business lives would run smoothly and completely independently from each other. One of the benefits of working as a freelance writer is that you get to make your own schedule for the most part. As long as you turn in your assignments on time, your clients don’t really know (or care) whether you do your best work at the crack of dawn or you like to tackle it in the small hours of the night. What happens when a personal crisis crops up? How do you deal with it in a professional manner and keep your freelance writing clients?

First Rule When a Personal Crisis Hits: Allow Yourself to be Human

I don’t know if you’re like this, but I know that I tend to think that I should just keep going no matter what. The whole stiff upper lip, never let them see you sweat thing may work up to a point, but it isn’t as effective when a real crisis hits, such as:

  • You have a short-term illness and you need to take care of yourself so you can recover
  • You’ve been diagnosed with a serious illness and need to adjust your work schedule going forward
  • Your child, spouse, or partner becomes ill/injured and is in hospital
  • One of your parents (or in-laws) becomes ill or is hospitalized
  • There has been a death in the family, and you need to take some time off

Before you can start to deal with your freelance writing clients when a personal crisis happens to you and your family, you need to take some time to allow yourself to be human and absorb what has happened. Once you understand the situation, you can start making plans to deal with the situation.


Short-term Situation versus Long-term Change

Depending on the nature of the crisis that you are dealing with, you may be dealing with a short-term situation or one that will take longer to resolve. If it’s a matter of a short-term illness or you need to go out of town for a few days to attend a family funeral, that is a different situation than dealing with a sick relative or your own serious illness. In the latter case, you may be looking at having to adjust your own work schedule for longer than just a few days.

Offer a Solution to Deal with Deadlines

In both situations, you’ll want to communicate with your clients as early as possible. Most people are very understanding about a short-term illness or that a freelancer needs to take time off to attend a funeral. If you have deadlines pending and you will not be able to complete a project, offer to have a trusted colleague complete your assignments for you. If the client declines, you have covered your bases and the client will appreciate that you have thought of a solution to the issue independently.

Long-term Change in your Work Schedule

In a situation where you can foresee that you need to make a longer-term change to your work schedule or your arrangement with your client, try to offer a solution when you discuss the situation. Assuming you have had a good relationship with the client so far and you would like it to continue, show your client that you are looking out for their interests as well.

For example, if you need to cut back on the number of assignments you will be able to take for the time being, recommend a trusted colleague who can pick up the slack (at least on a temporary basis) or offer to help your client find another writer to share the workload with you.


How Much Should you Tell your Client?

You tell your client as much as you feel comfortable letting them know. While I would hope that you are friendly with everyone you work with, it doesn’t mean that you share the same level of personal information with them as you would with your friends. The best rule may be to tell a client enough to give them an understanding of the situation, plus what it means as far as their business is concerned: [X] is happening/has happened, therefore I need to do [Y], which will mean [Z] for your business, and you will be fine.

Do what you need to do for yourself and your family, and make sure that your clients are looked after too, and you can ride out the challenging times and keep your freelance clients.

Image Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net


3 responses
  1. Jenn Avatar

    “you do your best work at the starting at crack of dawn”
    “There has been a death in the family and need to take some time off”

    One would think that a professional writer, writing an article to be read by other professional writers, would proofread her own work or have it proofed by someone else. 🙄

  2. Jodee Redmond Avatar
    Jodee Redmond

    You, know, Jenn, being a professional writer does not mean that I’m perfect. I do make mistakes. Most of the time I catch them before I send them to a client or post them online. Since this post was written in 2015, I don’t know exactly why I didn’t catch them at the time.

    Now, as for your “thoughtful” comment where you chose to point out quite clearly for all to see exactly where I made my errors, I hope it gave your ego a stroke when you caught them. At that moment, you were smarter than someone who makes their living writing! That’s the only reason I can think of that you would choose to share it publicly rather than to contact the site admin – I no longer write for FWJ – and quietly let them know that there was an issue.

    I don’t call out anyone publicly due to a typo or a grammatical error. It’s just mean and unprofessional. So while you may have tried to call into question my professionalism, I don’t think there is any doubt about yours.

    1. Noemi Avatar

      Well said, Jodee. It happens to the best of us!

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