Off the Mark: When Freelance Writers and Clients Fail to Connect

Posted on May 20, 2014 by Alethea M

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The value of hiring a freelance writer is in utilizing the human element to really connect with your audience. This, however, means that sometimes communication gaps will happen and your writer may completely misunderstand what you were looking for.

It happens – you believe the instructions were clearly spelled out, the writer believes she closely followed the instructions given, but the resulting article is nothing like what you had initially had in your head. Now what? Dealing with a miscommunication between client and writer can be very difficult and frustrating, but here are some best practices to get you started:

Why Patience and Professionalism go a Long Way

Imagine when one of your employees does something that makes no sense to you. Do you fly off the handle? Do you get snippy or rude about how things need to change? If you are a successful business owner or manager, then you know the value of treating your employees with respect and professionalism.

  1. Remember that in text, very short sentences are often read as blunt and sometimes rude
  2. Don’t use all caps (LOOKS LIKE YELLING!)
  3. Point out the things you like about the article when pointing out things you want to change
  4. Point out all changes for the revision and don’t wait to add more on later
  5. Try to provide an example of a piece of writing you really like – obviously the writer didn’t understand the first time, so an example will go a long way (which is something you may want to consider for writing clear instructions)

Remember, if your writer has a very bad experience with you, she may be less likely to snatch up your assignments on the next round. Great writers are busy, so when you are a difficult client, you will not be at the top of their priority list and may not get your articles written.

You are not Anonymous (Don’t Hide Behind the Keys)

You may have a username that protects your real identity, but many writers recognize similar tones of instructions, assignments and requirements. More than likely, even if you change platforms or usernames, the writers will remember you. Keep this in mind when responding to your writer.

It is the human element of the writing that will really connect your audience to your content. Working with flawed human professionals has its pitfalls, but also has a lot of benefits. Treating your writers like robots or idiots won’t get the results you are looking for.

The Value of Praise for Your Freelance Writers

Praise really goes a long way and helps the writer feel as though there is an end in sight. Telling your writer, for example that you love the conclusion, but feel like the intro needs adjusted (insert specifics here), will go far in encouraging her to make the revisions. If your writer believes she will completely have to rewrite the piece, she may not be so keen to do the work over, especially if she feels confused by your newest set of instructions.

Knowing When to Move On

If you notice you are misunderstood by your writers more than once, it may be time to re-think your instructions. Have a co-worker or employee who is unfamiliar with the assignment tell you what he thinks you are looking for. It may trigger an understanding for where things are going wrong. Look at the article you’ve received and compare it to the instructions honestly – do you see how they may have gotten what they did for direction on the assignment?

If you feel confident that your instructions are very clear – and perhaps other writers are understanding and doing great work for you – then it may be time to let the writer go. Some writers may have a different style than what you are looking for; if you’ve tried and can’t make it work, then don’t burn any bridges with a fiery exit, just move on.

Alethea M is a corporate blogging guru and freelance writer for WriterAccess. She often uses interesting facts from her article research to impress friends at dinner parties. Her husband is her biggest fan — though this may be because her writing income allows her to share in bill-paying each month.


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