From a writer’s perspective, clients are a necessary evil. There are always those writers one encounters on forums, the ones who write ‘for the sheer joy of writing’ and to express the ‘yearnings of their soul,’ but the rest of us poor schmoes are trying to make some kind of a living. And that means clients. It’s the very definition of a symbiotic relationship. Writers need clients, clients need writers.
The Good, The Bad, And The Downright Mean
Usually this works out well enough. Most clients who hire career writers are nice, reasonable, rational people. They know what they want, communicate their desires to the writer in a concise and easy to understand manner, and are just generally good people. The kind that every writer hopes and prays for.
Then there’s the other kind, whose every act of persecution seems carefully planned, as if they’re well aware that most writers are close to insanity anyway and they want to see if they can push them completely over the edge. When these people hire career writers, it seems to be as much about satisfying their sadistic impulses as securing great content.
Best Practices For Bad Clients
Here are a few sure-fire tips for frustrating any writer. The good clients will take it as a primer on how not to conduct business with a writer. For the bad ones, it’s just a refresher course. But if, Heaven forbid, you’re a good client who just feels like breaking bad, here’s how to drive a writer crazy, just for grins and giggles.
- Make sure your instructions to the writer are at least as long as the article you need written, preferably longer. They should be couched in the vaguest terms possible, and should include at least two contradictions. A condescending and slightly threatening tone should be used at all times.
- Add plenty of attachments to the instructions in some obscure file format that will have the writer tearing their hair out trying to open. Then, when they do get them open, they’ll be blank won’t they? Take your time sending new ones and make sure one of them is a set of insulting writer’s guidelines that will make the writer feel like he or she’s back in English Comp 101.
- Set an impossible deadline and offer a nice bonus for swift completion. Then, as the deadline looms, message the writer that you don’t really need it that fast after all and, of course, that the bonus is forfeit. Then message them at 3AM, saying the bonus is on if they can have it in the next 45 minutes.
- Revisions. Lots of revisions. Revisions are the bread and butter of the bad client and the surest way to make a writer smash their monitor with a coffee cup. This is loads of fun and can be carried on for a surprisingly long time. It goes without saying the requests should be as silly and incomprehensible as possible.
- Always be hard to contact. Never answer any questions until the deadline approaches. Grudgingly grant a small amount of extra time and act as though it’s all the writer’s fault.
- Withhold payment until you feel that civil action is imminent, then send a partial payment, and repeat. Good for months of torment.
These are the basics, but with a little creativity you can come up with some really evil ways to mess with your writer’s head. Remember, confusion, contradiction, and lack of communication are your friends.
Bob P is an expatriate Hoosier currently living in the wilds of Appalachia. He enjoys books, reading, hunting and fishing, wildflowers, and finely crafted brews like Blatz, Old Milwaukee, and PBR. Sometimes all at the same time. He’s available to write content for a small consideration. Or a chicken.