"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

5 Things You Must Know to Get Better Clients and Get Paid!

Many books and popular Ads promise you that “You too can become a freelance writer” and work from home, with just an Internet connection and basic knowledge from high school English.
If you believe that, I‘ve got some land I‘d like to sell you.

There are a multitude of skills, talents, and strategies involved in launching and maintaining a profitable freelance writing business.
As anyone who has made a serious effort can attest.

Having an Internet connection, “skills to pay the bills,” along with some fancy business cards simply won‘t cut it.
I learned the hard way.

Much like a sexy, reduced-for-clearance stiletto, without the proper “fit” with clients, I found myself hobbling along and in more discomfort than I bargained for.
And you will too. In fact, few things will stunt the growth of your writing business and your bottom line like poor client selection.


1. Ill-fitted clients can “cramp your style” on various levels.
 Their work ethic may not mesh with yours. Either you feel that they are misrepresenting their products or services to the public, or they may ask you to write something to support a cause for which you’re morally opposed. Although we all have to do things professionally we may not agree with, it comes with a price. And ironically, it takes the “freedom“ out of freelancing.

2. Ill-fitted clients are time consuming to deal with.
They demand countless hours in “hand-holding,” damage control, and even collection efforts. Time that can be much better spent pursuing passion projects, updating your blog, marketing, or sending “Tweets” to your Peeps. There’s great validity to the expression, “Time is money.”

3. They impede progress and hinder communication.
Going back and forth with a difficult client, having unresolved creative differences, and debating issues can be counterproductive and detrimental. And I should know.
I once worked with a client who didn’t have much of a business background. A classic “people person,” this free spirit really didn’t want to be bothered much with paperwork and functions like drafting a business plan, setting goals, and strategic marketing; even though I tried to convey its importance. It was no surprise that in less than a year, her “great idea” met with disaster; we both lost out on the potential to expand our business and our bottom line.

Now that we’ve covered why smart client selection is integral to a thriving business, let’s explore what to look for.

In the absence of a crystal ball, how can you tell what the future will hold with clients with whom you partner?

Here are five key factors to consider, (in no particular order):

    Number of years in business---The longer the business has existed, the greater the likelihood that it has garnered a strong customer base, a sizeable share of the market, and benefited from the trial and error that comes with a solid track record.
    A successful business model---If the product or service is one that you would actually patronize, that’s a good start. Does it solve a common problem? Address a pressing need? Save time or money? Enhance consumers’ lives?  Strong branding? If so, the odds are favorable.
    Ability/desire to pay---Is it a start-up? A not for profit? Often, these business structures have inherent risk factors and limitations, in terms of outside funding and emergency ‘reserves.” Not to mention, businesses just starting out typically must operate quite awhile before they see a profit. Translated? You can’t get paid if they’re operating “in the red.”
    Compatible work ethic---Do you have the same sense of urgency and priorities when communicating on projects? Or are you kept waiting for weeks for them to make the simplest of decisions? Are your visions and values similar? Is there mutual professional respect shown?
    Realistic expectations---Do they value your time and talent? Or do they make ridiculous demands…like a thousand-word article for 20 bucks?
    Keep in mind that no matter how talented you are, and how hard you work, if you can't get properly and promptly compensated for services rendered, you're "working harder, not smarter." Choose wisely. Good clients are "the new black!"

         Your turn.
        What would you add here? Agree or disagree?


  1. Good points, Jennifer. I'd probably add that, at least if you are truly dependent on your freelancing income (vs.someone who has help paying the bills and wouldn't let you end up on the street), look for clients who have used your type of service before. I have found that people who say "yes" to an hourly rate are shocked to find out that work sometimes takes more than one or two hours. I've had clients refuse to pay or just pay half, because they had no idea it would cost so much. You want to work with people who understand what it costs to, for example, keep a blog going or create a monthly newsletter.

  2. Thanks, Cynthia. Great perspective you add here to round things out. That's why I dig hearing from you! :-)

  3. I agree! Excellent points. It's not all sunshine and roses, is it? Appreciate your insight and encouragement. :)

    1. Thanks, Karen. I appreciate your time and input here. :-)

  4. A client I enjoy working with is - me myself and I -, publishing my own written product reviews on blogs. Usually products that I have myself or know something about, or have experience with.

    For example recently I wrote a book review for a book about

    Travel & Nature Photography