Writer Rant: Zen and the Art of Client Relations
Welcome to Writer Rants–where every Friday a writer just lets loose on whatever the heck is bugging them this week. Enjoy.
Not all clients are a dream to work with – and, truth be told, neither are writers – but they all deserve the same time, effort and attention. So how does a tired and bleary-eyed freelancer learn to take the mad-o-meter down a few pegs before the rage boileth over? Freelance writing is a veritable minefield dotted with miscommunications and stress-related frustrations, all of which can derail a project and sever relationships with otherwise outstanding clients. Here is an abbreviated guide to managing expectations and otherwise maintaining a great client/writer relationship.
Look Before You Leap
Procrastination and freelance writing are kinda like peanut butter and jelly – theoretically you can have one without the other, but most of the time they come in one big mashed-up package. The problem with waiting until the last minute to write articles is that when a question or concern pops up, you’re left sending off questions to the client that they can’t possibly answer before the ominous countdown enters the scary zone. How annoying must it be for a client to receive content late because their contractor didn’t bother looking at the creative brief when they got it? Examine all your instructions and make sure you have everything you need from the client when you accept the order, and then you can get back to that Friends marathon and procrastinate in peace.
Overprotective is Counter Productive
Sometimes you’re so stinkin’ proud of what you just wrote you can barely stand it, so when you see it go live with significant changes courtesy of the client, the bad feelings can quickly take over. As a ghostwriter it can be really hard not to take alternations personally, but in the immortal words of that song your children won’t stop singing, “let it go.” It’s sold, so it shouldn’t bother you anyway.
Breathe. Just Breathe.
When you get that third revision counteracting all the instructions that came before, it’s hard not to go full Linda Blair, but no amount of freaky head spinning is going to get this job back on track. Before you fire off an antagonistic email that will just make everything worse, step away from the computer and give yourself time to calm down. Poking the bear won’t improve matters, but a little stress relief might.
Assess Blame and Accept Yours
When faced with an angry client your first instinct is often a quick defense, but most of the time an objective assessment of the situation will show that the fault is far from one-sided. Everyone makes mistakes – yes, including you – and the quicker you own up to them, apologize, and work hard to make things right, the more your client will appreciate the effort and likely reward you with more work.
On Second Thought… Who Cares?
Okay, so maybe it is the client’s fault, but really, who cares? Last time I checked, the bank didn’t accept “I was right” points as part of my mortgage payment, so if making nice makes the client happy and gets the project moving, I’m all for it. That doesn’t mean you have to be a doormat, far from it, but pick your battles wisely and you’ll live to write another day.
Alana M is a lover, not a fighter. When she isn’t hard at work writing all kinds of witty and engaging content, she enjoys long walks on the beach, lion taming, nuclear physics and lying about her hobbies.