Obstacles You Are Likely to Face on the Road to Bigger Clients

For the past few months, I’ve been talking about how to find freelance writing jobs with larger, mostly corporate clients. The reason some of us want bigger clients is because the projects they offer are often longer in duration and pay more than many smaller client projects.

In this series, I’ve listed 12 high paying writing positions that companies often seek to fill. I’ve identified five places to look for corporate writing jobs. I’ve also specifically described the writing fields of technical communication, marketing communications, and medical writing. We’ve discussed mentoring and client meetings.

You’re pretty well prepared to go out and find your own corporate clients now, but I don’t want to give you the impression that transitioning to larger clients is a cake walk. There are some other adjustments and transitions associated with working for corporations that you may not have thought about.

7 Obstacles to Overcome as You Make the Transition to Bigger Clients

Here are some situations that you may not have thought about, but may face as you start accepting larger clients who are paying you more money:

  • Working (at least sometimes) during the client’s hours. If the client plans to invest a significant amount of money in the writing project that you are working on, they will want you to be available during at least a few of the hours during the day when they work. A worst-case scenario (from a freelance freedom perspective) would be if the client wanted you to work in-house for them.
  • Dealing with the client’s assumption that their project is your only project. The larger the project, the more likely the client is to assume that you will be working full-time on their project. Of course, if you actually planned on working full-time on the client’s project, this may not be a problem. However, if you planned on juggling the corporation’s project with several other projects you may face a challenge if the client tries to monopolize all of your time.
  • Signing a formal contract before starting work. Most larger companies will require you to sign a contract with them before you begin a large project. Be sure to read the contract carefully. Look out for traps like non-compete clauses. (While you won’t be sharing the client’s trade secrets with their competitors, you do want to be free to work wherever you choose when the contract ends.)
  • Meetings. Most corporations are run on meetings. As a team member on whatever project you were hired to do, you will be expected to participate in these meetings. The client may even require you to attend the meetings in person (which can be quite time-consuming if there is travel involved).
  • It’s their way or the highway. Most companies have predefined processes and procedures that determine the way that they get things done. Often these processes and procedures include writing projects as well. You may be asked to follow a corporate style guide. You may have to provide extra reports on your progress–whatever the company requirement is, it’s likely that you’ll have to follow it.
  • Payment on set dates. Working on little projects often means having lots of little paydays during the month (especially if you’re like me and you bill as soon as the work is complete). Corporations, however, have set dates (probably twice a month) when they pay independent contractors for work completed to date.
  • Giving up the little clients. If you’ve been working with certain smaller clients for a long time, you may have developed a comfort level in dealing with them. As you begin to spend more and more time on large client projects, you may find that you are no longer available for these smaller clients. If you’ve established a relationship with them, this parting of ways can be sad.

In other words, sometimes the larger freelance writing jobs (or contracts) often resemble traditional jobs more than they resemble the work-at-home freelance writer stereotype. For example, I once worked on corporate writing contract as an independent contractor through an agency (yeah, I know that’s a mouthful) in-house at a company for nearly a year.

You should weigh the freedoms associated with the stereotypical freelance lifestyle with the benefits that come from having larger clients. Which path should you choose? The decision is yours.

Feedback Time

Do you have large companies among your freelance writing clients? What obstacles have you faced?





4 responses
  1. Natalia M. Sylvester Avatar

    Great post! The biggest challenge I’ve faced when dealing with larger clients is when they haven’t worked with freelancers before, and are transitioning from when they had a full-time staff to now hiring you. I once had a potential client ask me to fill out a job application through their HR department, even for a freelance gig. There were a number of other factors that made me feel like they weren’t a good match for me, but if they had been, I realized that working with them would have required quite a bit of flexibility on my part, but also on theirs.

    1. Laura Spencer Avatar

      Thanks for sharing that Natalia!

      I think it’s not uncommon for HR to oversee the process of hiring a long-term independent contractor. I’ve even worked for a corporation that required everyone, contractors and employees, to be tested for illegal substances.

  2. Tammi Kibler Avatar

    Your post points up some of the pratfalls associated with the bigger payday of a corporate client. Money isn’t everything and sometimes the trade off is not worth it. In today’s economic climate one should be wary of the customer who is looking to buy the advantages of a contract worker without giving up the benefits expected of a full time employee.

    Thanks for spelling out the concerns we should address before signing on to a large project.

    1. Laura Spencer Avatar

      Thanks Tammi!

      It does pay to be careful. Sometimes the bigger paycheck comes with a loss of freedom.

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