To Forgive or not to Forgive, That is the Question

Posted on January 24, 2013 by Tom L

Experienced content writers who depend on their skill for income, part-time or full-time, know they can’t be too picky with choosing clients. The ones that pay consistently are treasured and held onto to keep a consistent revenue stream coming in each month. However, no matter how good or cautious a website content writer is, eventually there comes a client who just makes things really hard.

The problems can manifest in a number of ways including slow to review, very ambiguous instructions, delayed payment or worse, no payment, overly critical of work provided, and so on. Whatever the case, some of these clients go too far and cross the line. Most writers tend to be professional about the matter, closing out the work promised and ending the job. The assumption is once the immediate task is done, the account is pretty much a done deal and it’s time to move on and find other clients. However, some of the bad clients can seem to have mood swings, creating a lot of headaches but then practically begging a writer to come back for more work. This creates a tough judgment call for a writer – to forgive and earn more or to not forgive and cut off the client forever.

Most writers and people not facing the situation directly would likely say if a client did something really bad, like forget to make a payment timely, it’s time to get rid of that account. However, where a writer needs income and the account represents a large payment, the decision isn’t so black and white. Often, the bad client will realize he’s not going to get the writer back until prior payments due are settled, so the discussion starts with the late payment finally being provided. Then the bad client apologizes, sometimes provides a reason for the bad behavior, and throws more lucrative work at the writer if he will come back to the fold.

If the account is fairly large or is a good amount of pay, a writer has to consider the return involved. Some of the risk going forward can be alleviated the second time around by requiring a payment up front. This ensures the writer gets at least some portion of the payment in his pocket before providing more work. Some clients will balk, but sincere ones will usually understand and pay up. That said, the writer will still have to provide more work and take a risk that payment is delayed or denied a second time. Hopefully, the client won’t repeat the same mistake. If he does, then the writer would be a fool to take on work a third time from the same party.

If the account is small and doesn’t offer much pay versus other opportunities, a writer is better off dumping the bad client and moving on instead. The time spent getting frustrated with a bad client again could be better spent finding new customers or taking on content jobs and earning solid income from other sources.

Many writers avoid the impact of a bad writer on cash flow by also diversifying their revenue sources. By having multiple clients and revenue sources, smart writers are never really sent up a creek by one bad client. They can easily switch over to content provider revenue, other projects, direct order work or other sources. This alleviates a lot of stress and avoids having to decide whether to take on a bad client all over again.

Tom L is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.


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