Regardless of your skill and experience as a writer, there will come a time—many, actually—when you feel as though your patience is being tested. There are many diverse and interesting clients out there, and you won’t get along with all of them. Dealing with a troublesome client takes maturity and practice. Freelance writers are in a unique position because they need to take direct criticism of their work, rather than having it filtered through a boss or sharing it with other team members. While this can feel upsetting or even insulting, writers know that their livelihood depends on their reputation. A few simple techniques may allow you to rein in your anger and turn it into something productive.
Wait Before You Respond
If you get a message that has you seeing red, wait before you respond to it. It’s okay to write a response immediately, but you should wait at least an hour before sending it. It’s happened to everyone: in the heat of the moment you say something you regret. It’s better to look at the situation with clear eyes later on.
Take Yourself Out of It
We all know we’re the best writer in the world, right? This can make taking criticism particularly hard. Sometimes, to look objectively upon complaints, you have to forget you’re the writer involved. Consider the situation as though it were about another writer and think about the advice you’d give them. Sometimes this can impart valuable perspective.
Remember That It’s a Business
Writing is art, but it’s also your job. You should always remember that the bottom line is profit. Otherwise, you would be busy writing the next great American novel. As a businessperson, your job is making money, not correcting clients on the intricacies of the written word.
Clients Are People Too
Have you ever had a bad day and snapped at someone for a trivial reason? We all have, and this can happen with clients just like anyone else. Writers are often uniquely introspective, but we also need to consider that things might be going on in our clients’ lives that we just don’t know about.
Text Isn’t the Best Medium for Conversation
Emails, comments and messages can come off wrong even in the hands of a professional. What you see as an abrupt or sarcastic message might be something else entirely. Clients come from all walks of life, and not all of them will be able to express themselves in the written word. After all, that’s why they’re working with website content providers in the first place.
Recognize Red Flags
Sometimes avoiding anger is as simple as never taking on the job at all. Experienced freelance writers will learn to avoid specific red flags that indicate a client will upset them. If a job is extremely urgent and you hate being rushed, for instance, it’s likely taking the job is just going to lead to more aggravation.
Sometimes a client just isn’t worth the agony, and at this point it’s usually best to respectfully cut them loose. However, freelancing is an industry through which you usually don’t want to burn bridges. While it may hurt your pride as a writer, it will become a mark of pride regarding your professionalism in the face of adversity.
Jenna I is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.