Writers tips

How to Handle These Freelance Writing Client Personalities Without Breaking a Sweat

I know freelance writing is no picnic. I mean, you’re doing what you love, you get to determine your own schedule, but there’s one thing you cannot avoid if you want to make a living as a writer: clients. You need them probably more than they need you. After all, someone’s got to pay for the lifestyle to which you’d like to be accustomed.

But, you’re always going to come across a few challenging personalities. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most typical clients you will come across – whether you are sourcing work from local businesses, online bidding sites, or *gasp* content mills (please, say it isn’t so!).

  1. Curious George

We’ll call our curious client George. He’s one of the most frustrating you’ll encounter. At first, he’ll be so impressed with your samples and so excited to work with you that he’ll talk the hind legs of your proverbial donkey and appear to live on coffee by the jar-full. At first, you may be eager to share your knowledge with George and offer extra tidbits here and there, but over time George becomes a thorn in your side: he’s demanding, and he’s slowing you down with every question he asks.

Here’s the thing: George doesn’t just want progress reports, he wants to know how you do your work, where you get your information from, and he’ll want you on Skype at ungodly hours nearly every day. So, you need to be direct. Tell George you’re busy and your time is limited. Let him know time is money for freelance writing and if he wants meetings and reports, he’ll need to make an appointment and stick to the allotted time.

  1. Cheapskate Charlie

There are so many Charlies in the freelance world, aren’t there? Charlie has a budget, and he doesn’t budge. He’s happy to sacrifice time and quality so long as you’re cheap. After all, why put a price on your training, education, time and dedication? Your kids don’t need to eat, right?

If you find Charlie approaching you for freelance writing, discuss quality with him. Let him know that he is going to get what he pays for and if he wants anything else, well, Charlie will have to dig a little deeper or move on. By the way, if you’re happy to work with Charlie, don’t spend too much time on his project; he isn’t paying for time or research, he just wants the job done. And don’t forget to lock him into a contract before you start – he may have no intention of paying you otherwise.

  1. Know-It-All Nelly

Nelly is easy to spot – you’ll hate her as soon as you’ve begun working with her. She knows more about freelance writing than you do, but she hired you regardless. She will interrupt you every chance she gets and refuses to be swayed by her ideas, which are obviously the best thing since, well, ever.

Nelly is a control freak, and she demands respect. It’s actually her insecurity. Use a little basic psychology to win her over: give her respect and power. Stroke her ego now and then to win her over. But do pick your battles, you are a professional, after all. Don’t fight back on every issue, save your strength for the bigger moments. Better yet, Nelly is someone who is often easier to walk away from if she refuses to respect your work and insists on working you up more than letting you get on with business.

  1. Helpful Harry

Harry is a sweetheart, but if you don’t handle him properly from the outset, he’s going to get under your feet. Harry likes to be hands-on, he loves interacting with you and your work. As long as you can keep Harry occupied, you two can get along.

If Harry insists on helping you, give him space to. It’s the perfect opportunity to practice your delegation skills and learn how to be a team player in a freelance world. So, give Harry something to do, just identify his skillset first and then ask him to perform a task related to the project, such as research.

  1. Day Dreamer Debbie

Debbie is not of this Earth. Her head is filled with big plans and harebrained ideas. Whether it’s about function or style, Debbie wants to ensure her product is the best thing out there. For a freelancer writer, helping make Debbie’s dreams come true can be tough. Without discouraging her passion, you need to bring her back into reality.

Ask Debbie to show you examples of what she really likes and be honest with her about timeframes and prices, so she knows what she is in for. Also, ask Debbie for details; get her to fill in the blanks. While her end goal is probably incredible, by discussing the details, you can both get a grasp on the scope of the writing project.

  1. Sophia the Sprinter

Sophia is exhausting. She saps you of energy and patience, and she’s on a mission to win an Olympic gold for most deadlines met in the history of deadlines and in the quickest time possible. Sophia thinks that is you can write her eBook in two weeks; then there’s no reason not to get it done in 24 hours.

For Sophia, time is of the essence, and, hey, it is for you too. After all, you want to get paid, don’t you? Sophia is a hardworking client; we can’t deny her that, so she has high expectations for those she deals with. If you’re about to take on a client like this, proceed with caution. Don’t get caught up in something that leaves you with an over-demanding assignment and a client pushing you every minute to get the job in. Let her know that every minute spent answering her queries is another minute away from the job. She’ll probably understand.

With Sophia, you need to guard your deadlines, so be realistic and flexible from the outset. Don’t budge from the deadlines when she is asking you to sprint ahead.

Have you come across a George, Nelly, Charlie, Harry, Debbie or Sophia along your freelance writing journey? Share with us how you handled them!

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