As a freelance writer, one of the things that I have to do on a daily basis is to converse with clients and create lasting professional relationships.
This may sound easy but there are certain things to keep in mind if you want to maintain your reputation as a friendly, yet professional writer.
Dealing With Difficult Clients
It is unavoidable that from time to time you will come across a client who is rude, demanding or difficult and in a personal capacity, there may be many things you would like to say and do. But when your career is on the line, it is important to handle people with dignity, grace and poise.
- If the client is complaining about a problem, be sure to acknowledge their concerns but do not mimic their tone – take a firm but friendly stance on the situation.
- Try to remain calm and use language that will not come across as rude or patronising.
- Explain to the client your point of view and offer some sort of resolution to the issue. Many times, you will find that a simple solution can be found.
- It can be easy to bite back if a rude or hurtful comment is made but if you do so, the client may be likely to leave you a bad review or tarnish your name some other way. The best way to handle a situation like this is to politely explain that you will not tolerate aggressive language and swiftly move on to the next order of business.
In some situations, you may find that an obnoxious client is simply too rude or difficult to work with and you may have to cut ties. If this happens, you should do so in writing – and keep a copy as evidence that you have remained professional and courteous throughout the exchange.
Tips For Building Good Client Relationships
Most clients will be friendly, approachable and polite and this gets you off on a great footing. Let’s look at some tips for starting and maintaining a good relationship with your clientelle.
- During your first conversation with a client you should introduce yourself and explain what you offer that can meet their needs as well as asking questions about what they require.
- Make it clear to clients what your working hours are and what workload you are able to take on. It is better to be honest and explain that you may not be able to fit them in for another week than to make promises that you can’t keep. This will reflect badly.
- You should take a friendly approach to your clients but be careful not to blur the lines between friendly and over friendly.
- If there are any aspects of the work that you do not understand, don’t be afraid to admit this and ask the client for further instructions. This is preferable to completing a lengthy piece of work and having to redo it because it wasn’t exactly what the client wanted.
- If you have written a piece of work that has required a lot of research, you should provide your client with any references. This will show them that you are capable of doing correct research and show them that you have used credible sources.
- Keep your clients and your personal life separate. It is worth setting up a work email account – and phone line if possible, this means that, at the end of your working day you will be able to switch off and concentrate on your down time.
- Always provide your clients with the opportunity to ask questions and contact you for advice. Be open, honest and approachable during this process.
Common Client Problems
Many of your clients will contact you for work that they want doing as quickly as possible. This is especially true if a client suddenly decides that they want some urgent promotional web content, for example. This puts pressure on you and it is important to set boundaries – especially when you begin to get a larger client base.
Always let your clients know of your working hours and ask them to avoid setting deadlines that are outside of these. I have had many times where a client has asked for work late on a Friday afternoon which they have wanted completed by the Sunday. I don’t work weekends – as a rule of thumb anyway. On occasion I don’t mind but being a mom, I like to spend weekends with my family. There have, therefore been times that I have had to explain to clients that if they request work on a Friday, they must accept that it won’t be started until the Monday – and that’s only if there’s nothing else on. I will ALWAYS prioritise my work on a first come, first served basis – unless it is a special request or emergency.
Most clients will understand this and allow a slightly longer deadline without any additional problems. On top of this, you will be sure that those late orders are avoided in the future.
You might also come across clients who do not give ample instructions. For instance, I once received a writing order containing instructions similar to this:
Please write an article on children with autism
That was it!
What did my client want me to write about? Autism is a versatile topic that could be approached from many angles. I didn’t know what to do. The solution? Ask for clarity, as we mentioned earlier it is no good writing an entire piece on ‘how autism affects children at school’ if the client was after something surrounding therapy for autism, for example.
Being underpaid is one of the major irks of being a freelance writer. Some people simple are not willing to pay for what you do. Many people may not realise the skill it takes to craft a coherent and engaging piece of written work, and therefore believe that they shouldn’t have to fork out for it.
Now whilst I pride myself on providing an affordable service, I also have bills to pay. I have known clients propose £3 per 1000 words – which is shocking. In this case, you need to politely decline the work. It never pays to directly say ‘You’re paying me peanuts!’ But using better wording may urge the client to offer more or to look elsewhere. Consider the following:
“Thank you for your enquiry, however the rate you have offered does not meet my minimum pricing. I would ask you to please take a look at my pricing page to gain clarity on this. Unfortunately, I cannot accept offers of work below these costs due to the cost of my time and resources. Thank you once again for your interest in my work and I look forward to hearing from you again.”
Now that I have been freelance writing for a good amount of time, I have built up a good base of regular clients. Some of these ask for many orders each week whereas others simply require one piece of content a month and everything in between.
It is important that once you have obtained a regular client that you keep them engaged in what you do. Invite them to follow your social media pages, encourage them to sign up to your mailing list or contact them on an ad hoc basis to check in and see how your last piece of work has performed.
Now that you have a good understanding of how to deal with clients and any of the issues that come alongside working with people, you are ready to get out there, find projects and people to work with and enjoy engaging with the world!