Posts tagged freelance writing
We all start the same way – work in a regular job for a few years, get tired of the monotony, or a creativity-crushing boss, or a pay package that could be compared to peanuts for the amount of skills we have. But we finally take that step to become free. Working for multiple clients, handling a variety of jobs, getting paid for what we are worth, and of course, the satisfaction of ownership and being our own boss. All of these give a different kind of mental high.
I have been freelancing for a long time now and have had the good fortune to come across lots of fellow freelancers: beginners as well as experts. Based on my experience, here are the top five things that really annoy clients, more than you can imagine. Sit back and think – are you doing any of these career-damaging actions:
1. Not replying back to client’s mails/phone calls and not following up:
If you were working in a company, a boss would always be sitting on your head and monitoring your actions. You have a higher level of accountability and responsibility there. When you are freelancing, you have to maintain that same level of accountability. Nothing delights clients more than prompt replies to their emails. You don’t have to wait for your clients to revert; when you think it’s time to hear from them, it’s best to send a gentle reminder. Many companies fear hiring freelancers because of the mindset that they are irresponsible and might vanish any day, which brings me to the next point.
2. Taking uninformed offs:
Freelancing offers you tremendous scope of working anytime from anywhere. But that doesn’t mean that you switch off your mail box in the middle of the week and take off for the weekend to a place where it’s hard to catch mobile signals. Most freelancers get the maximum work and the major part of their income from long-standing clients. It takes time and effort to build that reputation. Even if you are going out for a day, you must inform your client about it – in advance.
3. Not delivering the work on time:
If you promise something, you must deliver. I have a hard time understanding why some freelancers commit to deadlines that they cannot follow. If you cannot get something done in a day then don’t say that you can. Most often than not, if you explain your workload to your clients, they will understand. When you are giving your work timelines to your client, add an extra day if you think that you might not be able to complete the work in time. If in case, you get delayed, inform your clients yourself – don’t wait for them to come to you.
4. Not maintaining a work sheet:
I always encourage fellow freelancers to maintain an Excel sheet or online worksheet to update the status of the tasks that they are doing. If you manage your work well, you can get it done in time and plan out like professionals. You can have several columns in your worksheet: client name, job, status, author, payment received, payment pending, internal deadline, client deadline, remarks. In the status you can put – to write/design, to edit, to do final review, to send to client, sent to client for approval, waiting for approval, to be uploaded, to be tracked, done, and so on. Highlight the tasks in different colors based on priority. When you have multiple jobs going on simultaneously, it gets hard to track them in your brain so it’s best to use Excel as your pensieve.
5. Not practicing what you are preaching:
You are a writer but you don’t have a blog/website; you are a designer but you don’t have an online portfolio; you are an SEO specialist but people can’t find you on Google; you call yourself a social media specialist and you have just tweeted thrice in your own name – these are things that you should take care of. If you are writer, take out time to maintain your own blog. Do for yourself what you are doing for your clients. This shows your authority and grasp of the work that you are doing.
Veteran freelancers might not be doing any of the above and that’s why they have reached where they are. This article is meant for beginners who don’t pay attention to such nuances and as a result are unable to sustain clients for long and return to normal jobs after a short stint as freelancers.
Why should you select a freelancer for your content writing needs?
Here’s why –
- Freelance writers are like lawyers, except much cheaper.
- Freelancers tend to be generalists.
- Freelancers provide a fresh point of view of your product.
- Freelancers tend to work through marketing agencies
A freelance writer, on assignment, is very much your advocate. Quite as a member at the Legal bar might, the freelancer does not have to believe in the Truth of your assertions. All he/she has to do is believe in your right to have them heard.
Good freelancers might sound expensive at the outset, but when you compare the cost of hiring a full-time writer along with all the benefits and facilities, the cost of a freelancer comes down by half. What’s more? If you are not satisfied with one writer’s style, you can always try another.
The writer’s skills are measured by her ability to present those assertions in the most favorable light possible. Give the freelance content writer the facts; tell him which interpretation of the Truth you wish brought to the forefront, and which aspects you would rather not have emphasized; then let her argue your case in Web court.
The advantage to generalists is that they avoid the messy bogs of details. Web descriptions need to be short, descriptive, overviews of your product. The graphics-intensive web pages do not need exposition as much as they need garnish; the light touch of the generalist. It is too easy for the expert in the subject to get bogged down in the details, and the devils, as they say, lie in the details. A capable web content writer does not need to know the specifics of your topic. Rather, she needs to know the framework of the rules and their application to you and your product.
A content writer knows how to access those details that may be necessary for presenting your point. Content writers are good researchers. Anyone living with an elephant in the room is most definitely going to have a point of view, most particularly of the elephant. That point of view, bound by the room and the viewer’s position vis-à-vis the elephant. To see how the esthetics of the pachyderm work with the over all scheme of the room is probably best left to an outsider. Not having to work with the elephant day after day, is, most likely going to provide a gentler appreciation for grey as a theme. The free-lancer, by definition an outsider, can provide that gentling.
Finally, there is perhaps the not so obvious administrative advantage of knowing that the freelancer, stuck for a thought, is annoying productive workers, but, not on your time.
A brief look at where we are, and what we can expect to deal with in the months ahead.
1. Trend #1: There are freelancers-for-now. And there are those who are in it for the long haul.
You probably know someone who’s been laid off, and now she’s trying her hand at freelancing until the job market improves.
This isn’t new. When the U.S. went through a deep recession in the early 1990s, I belonged to an association for communication professionals. Unemployed people would come to our monthly meetings and tell us, sotto voce, that they were consulting. Which would lead more than a few members to ask, “Okay, what kind of a job are you looking for?”
The consultants’ reaction to the j-word question was predictable. They’d be all over the meeting room, pumping anyone and everyone for job leads. Which made some of us wonder what would happen to their consulting clients once they got a job. (Does the expression “hung out to dry” come to mind?)
Although most of the freelancers-for-now may be a competitive headache for now, they’ll be back in the employment world soon enough.
2. Trend #2: What if they decide that they like freelancing?
You may think that from what I said about the previous trend, that the temporary freelancers are muddying our lovely swimming pool. However, some of them find that they enjoy the life we live. You know, hustling for gigs, pouring their workaday souls into what they do and constantly finding ways to make it better, wowing the clients, and hey, who needs a job anyway?
They’ll quickly learn about what I’m going to describe below.
3. Trend #3: The freelancers who survive are those who are good at what they do, and are excellent at business. Especially when it comes to saying no.
If you’ve been freelancing for more than five minutes, you’ll know that there are all sorts of offers to work for free, or almost-free in return for exposure, referrals, publicity, or future assignments at your full rate.
For example, you might find yourself like the record store, restaurant, or hairdresser shown in the popular YouTube video in which customers ask for substantial discounts off the quoted price.
Or you may be asked to give your work to organizations that can well afford to pay for it. Happened to me this past summer. I was asked to share some of my photos with a local organization. I told the person making the request that I’d be happy to work out a licensing agreement. Her reply: The organization had no money for such a thing.
I guess I was supposed to take pity on this organization and share my work, but I didn’t. Something just didn’t seem right. After all, this outfit has a well paid staff and a nice office in downtown Tucson. I later found out that its annual budget is more than $1.5 million.
As you can see from the above, the ability to say no is one of the most valuable things you can develop. You can say it nicely the way Washington, D.C. photographer John Harrington does with his prospective clients. Or you can be nasty like Harlan Ellison is in this YouTube video, where he describes how he refuses to have an on-camera interview reproduced on a DVD.
4. Trend #4: You’re not alone anymore, so learn to work with others. And manage them.
5. Trend #5: Being good doesn’t go hand in hand with being a prima donna.
Read the complete article here: http://bit.ly/51zjeB