One of the most difficult aspects of freelance writing—for both newbies and old hats—is feedback. Clients, editors, and publishers have preconceived notions about the type of content they want, and they usually aren’t afraid to tell you about it. They tell you about it even after you spent hours crafting content you thought met their demands perfectly!
Much of the feedback provided in the freelance world is professional and even kind. This feedback makes you a better writer, increasing your ability to command higher rates. But much is not all; whether some clients or editors are having a bad day or are just generally jerks, they can give feedback that is biting, harsh, and fetal-position inducing on occasion. To become a freelance writer, you have to develop a thick skin and look at all types of criticism from the right angle.
Rail against feedback all you like, it doesn’t change the fact that there are rules to this freelancing game. The main rule—the one that rules them all—is that the person paying for the content is the trump card. Things that don’t trump the client include rules of grammar, SEO best practices, and your hurt feelings. Sure, you can suggest that a client might not want to stuff 23 keywords into a product description that totals 200 words. You can also have a great penchant for the serial comma, but the client’s feedback and style preferences trump you.
In many cases, the editor also trumps the writer. While a complete error on the part of an editor should be pointed out—in a professional manner, of course—it’s more often the case that editors and writers disagree on style or grammar issues. Nothing sets off writer annoyance like an editor who changes up content, seemingly in an arbitrary manner. You spent a lot of time on that content, right? How dare the editor muck it up. The truth is, though, the writer gets paid to write original content. The editor gets paid to change it—hopefully to improve it according to a client’s instructions.
When faced with feedback that crawls under your skin and gnaws at your temper, it helps to remember the rules of freelance rock, paper, scissors. Feedback beats writer. It’s just a fact of the game. Luckily, chocolate beats feedback. So, when you feel that hot rage slowly rising in your face, back away from the screen and seek out a pack of M&Ms or a tub of ice cream. Cool down, chocolate up, and come back to the computer with a decision to either correct the content or can the client and move on to projects that have more ROI for you.
And if you don’t like, or can’t do, chocolate, substitute your favorite drink, food, or relaxing activity. Feedback is hard, but at least as a freelancer you can make up some of the other rules.
Writer Bio: Sarah S usually handles feedback in a positive manner, and she loves improving her craft. A few times a year, though, she has to invest in king-size chocolate bars to make it through a project.