In a perfect world, you would have no blogging client problems. Your clients would consistently be thrilled with your work, and your job would be fulfilling 100 percent of the time.
Unfortunately, life as a freelancer does not always work out the way you would like. Clients get demanding. They can get mad when you set reasonable ground rules and might even threaten non-payment.
You need to go into every situation hoping for the best, but planning for the worst. That way, you will keep yourself and your business one step ahead of the competition.
They do not like your writing? Write Better Content
While you certainly can’t control every aspect of the freelancer-client relationship, you can control the quality of your content. Actual writers always seek to improve their writing skills in one way or another.
They might stay up-to-date with the latest style guides or expand the number of topics they can knowledgeably write about. They could even become the definitive expert in a given industry. The better your content, the happier your clients will be. Here are few strategies to consider when improving your writing ability:
- Outline Your Piece: A simple way to write a cohesive long-form piece is to put together an outline. Writing an outline should be a no-brainer when it comes to listicles or how-to’s (like this one). Your content might not be broken into five clean sections. But you should still organize statements, sentences, links, and references into distinct segments from start to finish.
- The Funnel-Down Method: While writing the bare minimum is less work for you, the odds are that later on you will have to rewrite or make additions. You might find that writing a little more than is necessary will serve you in the long-run. You can always cut out pieces deemed unnecessary by the client, creating a piece that satisfies both of you.
- Get Fresh Eyes: A useful habit that all writers should develop is taking a break from writing and then revisiting the piece later. One major benefit of getting fresh eyes is that you can see the piece more objectively. You will be able to correct typos, check for overall cohesion, and relieve some stress in the process. If you have a deadline looming, start writing sooner and take shorter breaks than you normally would. Even small breaks can make a big difference.
They do not pay on time? Bill in Advance
One aspect of the freelancer-client relationship that has the potential to brew bad feelings is that of payment. How will you be paid? How much? When?
Even if you come to an agreement on the first two projects, late payments from the client can create mistrust. The situation could even lower the quality of your work.
In this type of circumstance, it is best to send a clear message. You can send detailed invoices through the online invoicing tools from ZipBooks. These are complete with project descriptions, pay rate, and estimated billable hours. Send your invoices ahead of time, and even set late-payment reminders so that you and your clients will be on the same page.
Sending invoices early might seem like a bold move, but it will show clients that you are serious about your work. It is a direct and professional way of saying, “I deserve to be paid on time.”
They seem distant from you? Build a Relationship
Clients can seem closed off or distant from you for various reasons. They might have a lot on their plate. Your project could be a low priority, or they are still getting to know you. They might not trust you, or they might be vetting other freelancers.
Whatever the reason, poor communication and a lack of transparency on both sides will hurt your relationship. Mistrust will likely end your interactions sooner rather than later. It is true that you are not responsible for how your client acts. However, exhibiting the following qualities can help build a strong working relationship that will last for a long time:
- Consistency in the Content: Something that is almost guaranteed to improve the freelancer-client relationship is delivering consistently good content. This does not mean that every blog post or article needs to be a Pulitzer winner. But showing that you treat every project with equal care and thoroughness will motivate clients to work with you longer.
- Honesty in Communication: Dishonesty in your communication will lose you clients faster than anything else you can do. This includes overselling your abilities, inflating your billable hours, or making excuses about deadlines. Be as transparent as possible, and you will win more long-term clients.
- A Sense of Partnership: If you want to develop a healthy, long-term relationship with a client, you have to look beyond the immediate project. You need to focus on more than merely getting paid. Make a concerted effort to help your clients succeed in whatever way you can. If you do, soon the relationship will feel more like a partnership.
They do not like you? Terminate the Project
There is never an excuse for unprofessionalism from either party in the freelancer-client relationship. This is true regardless of the scope of the work, the industry you are writing for, the deadlines, or the client,
Even if your clients are wildly successful and brilliant, your obligation to them ends the minute they start demeaning you or your work. You should never tolerate an unfair wage or someone asking you to do things you didn’t agree to or that make you uncomfortable.
However, deciding to terminate the project on these grounds is not always a cut and dried decision. You are particularly limited when a contract is involved. Still, if you find yourself in a situation like this, the best possible course of action is to cut your losses. Pay back whatever is owed on the contract, and move on.
Yes, this decision might cost you in the short-term, but it will also set a positive precedent moving forward. It sends a message to future clients that you have clear and measured standards of professionalism. Then you will be able to build a clientele that aligns with your values.
Are they scope creeps? Make Them Stop
Scope creep is a financially dangerous situation wherein clients will gradually assign you larger and larger projects while your payment remains fixed. As a result, you spend increasing amounts of time and energy on each new project. At the same time, your incoming cash flow stays the same, causing you to lose money over time.
You can prevent scope creep from continuing (or even happening in the first place) by doing the following:
- Define the Scope of Work: During your discovery meeting, make sure you completely understand what the client wants. Come to an agreement on an appropriate solution. Both parties need to know what the end goal is, as well as the roadmap required to reach that goal.
- Price Accordingly: Once the scope of work has been decided on, provide an honest estimate. Be prepared to itemize each section of that estimate so your client will know exactly how you calculated your price. This will also prevent the client from asking you to do additional work that goes beyond your original plan.
- Get It in Writing: Even if you are discussing the details of the project over the phone, make sure to get everything in writing. You need to have some kind of written evidence of your correspondence, even if it’s an email conversation. A written document is one of the most useful tools for preventing abuse and scope creep.
Fostering healthy relationships with your blogging clients is not easy, and in some cases, might be impossible. Always remember that you have just as much control over the direction of the relationship as your client does. Your professional integrity as a freelancer is one of your most marketable assets. So if you see something you do not like, don’t be unprofessional, and certainly don’t be a pushover.
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