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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Freelance Writing For Professionals

One way to make sure you are taken seriously as a freelance writer is to be professional. This can mean many things, but for me it's about how I do business to make sure that the client gets what they want and I do too. The client wants work that is produced on time and to spec. I want to get paid to write and get repeat business or referrals. There are four things I do as a professional freelancer:

I don't say yes to a job unless I'm pretty sure I can deliver. Failing to deliver makes me look bad with the client. It also puts me under stress so I have learned how to say no.

However, sometimes there are circumstances beyond your control. If I think the deadline is in jeopardy I give the client plenty of notice and options for retrieving the situation. The rule here is to ask for what you need and make it realistic - there's no point in asking for an extension twice. I give the client a reason why I can't deliver on time and I say how much I can deliver by the due date. I also let the client know that I am working hard to get everything done.

I ask questions up front rather than waste my time and theirs by doing something wrong. Having to do a job twice is bad for cash flow, so I always get as much information as I can before starting the job. I usually explain to the client that he will get a better service if I do this - then it's no problem.

I don't work for people who repeatedly fail to pay within the required time scale. As a friend said to me recently, you have to know when it's time to fire the client. One of my clients approached me recently to do more work. I still have one unpaid invoice with that client and have had to chase him five times for payment. I said to him that I would not feel comfortable doing more work until that invoice was paid and that I would not feel comfortable doing another job until THAT invoice was paid. Time is money - you don't pay me and I don't have time to write for you.

Using this approach means that my clients know they can count on me - and that counts for a lot on the occasions when I need some leeway. It also means that I don't have many non-paying clients (I've had a few - what freelancer hasn't?)

What other advice would you give on being a professional freelance writer? Feel free to drop a link to something you have written on this issue in the comments thread.

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