Friends with Benefits
Sure, there’s nothing quite like new love. You know what I mean. The excitement. The uncertainty. The thrill of unexplored possibilities. If you’re a freelance writer, scoring a new client can engender the same heady feelings. There are new templates to explore, deadlines to discern, expectations to ferret out. You may even get to wade into unexplored subject matter, always a thrill for those drawn to the writing life.
But, the LTR — or long term relationship, if you haven’t been on craigslist lately — has its own particular set of perks. Consider these:
- Well-defined expectations: All the little things that can make or break the writer-client relationship take time to figure out. Does a particular client like a serious voice, or do they expect a little whimsy in their copy? Are their deadlines cast in stone, or is there a bit of wiggle room? Even formatting issues and font choices must be hashed out in the beginning. With an established client, however, all of these details are settled. You know what they like and what they expect. With such a clear picture in mind, you can easily meet their needs.
- Less time talking – New writing gigs require communication, and lots of it. Instructions are sent your way, but you may need to ask for clarification. You thought you understood completely, but — oops! — here comes a revision request. All of this back and forth takes time, time that could have been spent writing saleable copy. In a writing LTR, however, the whole process is streamlined. Like a happily married couple, you’ve learned to discern each other’s needs almost subconsciously, freeing your time for productive writing.
- Increased cost-to-benefit ratio – Sometimes the thought of a new writing gig with a flashy, higher payout may seem more attractive than the tried and true, but be sure you’re weighing all the relevant factors before you start an illicit affair. Finding new clients and assignments takes time — unpaid time. You may need to advertise, submit queries or pitch ideas, or even produce writing samples. When you do the math, you may find that your pay-per-hour drops significantly.
Keeping the Love Alive
In the writing world, as in romance, it’s the little things that keep love alive. If you’ve found a great client and have developed a successful LTR, don’t take the relationship for granted. If they occasionally ask for some unpaid research or idea generation, for example, go ahead and provide it. If they offer positive feedback or a gratuity, be sure to thank them. You could even take the initiative and tell them what a great client they are. If they haven’t heard that kind of thing before, they may be a little taken back, but they’re sure to be pleased.
Kate C is a married freelance writer who has been in an LTR with husband, Chris, for 27 years. They share their home — and most of the blankets — with a fat, sassy Boston terrier named Tess.