Tag Archives: gigs

When Regular Clients Become Unreliable

Have you ever had a long-term regular client who suddenly became less reliable? Maybe their business suffered due to economic circumstances. Maybe they had to deal with a personal issue and were less focused on business projects. No matter how reliable a freelance writing gig might seem, it can always disappear.

Let’s talk about some of the ways regular clients might suddenly become unreliable and what you can do about it if it happens.

Ways Regular Clients Might Become Less Reliable

Here are some things an otherwise reliable client might do to suddenly change your working relationship:

  • They might cancel projects at the last minute.
  • They might decrease their usual order size with no advance notice.
  • They might simply stop contacting you or responding to emails (or phone calls).

The worst can be when a long-time regular client tells you on a whim that they can’t order for a month or two, but then they plan to get back to a regular order schedule. On one hand, it could be a worthwhile relationship to preserve, so you might try to accommodate. But that isn’t always the right thing to do. After all, you are a business owner too, and you have to put your own business interests first. If your business isn’t surviving, you can’t do your best work for clients anyway.

How to Deal with Clients that Become Unreliable

How do you deal with these situations? Given my last example, you have a few options:

  • Tell the client it’s alright, and that you’ll be happy to take them on again when they’re ready;
  • Tell the client that you’ll pursue other regular contracts to fill that void as soon as possible, and that means you likely won’t have availability when they’re ready to come back if they give up their spot;
  • Combine the two — pursue only one-off projects in the interim with the expectation that the client will come back to their regular schedule after a month or two.

Personally, I go with the second option. I don’t leave my schedule open with some naïve hope that a client is going to come back. If their own business is struggling now and they can’t order any more (as budgets are usually the concern), there is no guarantee that’s going to change in the short-term. And it would be foolish to rest the future of my own business on those hopes. So I find someone else. If they come back before I’ve found another regular I want to stick with, that’s fine. If not, too bad. I’ll refer them to someone who can work with them moving forward. That’s not to say there’s any bitterness about it. It’s just business.

Because clients can become unreliable in different ways, there are also different ways you can handle the situations. Some examples include:

  • Letting them know you can’t reserve their time in the future if there’s a break in the contracted work;
  • Discussing their future plans with them in more depth — find out if there really is a very short-term problem at hand where it might be worth sticking it out for a month or so;
  • Offering to adjust project specs to meet their new requirements without undercutting your own earnings or losing the gig altogether;
  • Being firm, letting them know that commitments followed by last minute cancellations aren’t acceptable professionally (because once they committed, you had to turn down other prospects), and that if it happens again you won’t be able to continue working with them;
  • Moving on and not looking back — especially if a client becomes unresponsive for an extended period (that can’t be explained with a brief emergency taking them away from work).

Are these the only ways to deal with long-time clients who become unreliable? No. But they give you somewhere to start and some options to consider. It’s one thing to like our clients and want to work with them to overcome their problems. But we also have to know when to do that and when it’s best to part ways — temporarily or not.

No freelance writing job is a sure thing. From large content sites that shut down or change payment models to smaller independent clients who can’t sustain the workload, gigs come and go. And it’s a part of our job to be prepared. So be ready to handle the situations if they come up, even if hoping they don’t. And never stop marketing your services and building your visibility to attract new prospects. Then when a sudden opening does happen, you’ll already have interested prospects waiting for a call.

Jennifer Mattern

About Jennifer Mattern

Jennifer Mattern is a freelance business writer and professional blogger who writes about freelance writing, social media, indie publishing, and small business. She also publishes e-books for freelance writers and is scheduled to publish her first nonfiction book, The Query-Free Freelancer, next year.

Making Blog Money: AllFreelanceWriting.com

Jennifer Mattern has some sage advice for writers who want to branch out as professional bloggers. Do you want to start earning money from your own blog? Mattern’s article is a great place to begin, but even if you’ve been in the blogging game for a while, check out her Make Money Blogging post and have a look. You’ll find some good advice I think gets overlooked in the rush to sign up for affiliate marketing programs and Google Ads; there is plenty of money to be made with e-books and digital downloads.

Of course, you have to have something to say in those e-books and downloads, but that’s another issue for another post. The real value of this article is in the common-sense approach it takes. No, not all bloggers are going to earn big money from their work. Mattern points out that many people just don’t know how to market a blog effectively. But those who take the time to learn the ropes and follow the advice laid out in the article stand a much greater chance of getting those paychecks.

I love AllFreelanceWriting.com for its BS-free writing and a complete refusal to claim that ANYBODY can do this stuff. The advice is great, the attitude is much appreciated, and if you need a good kick in the pants motivationally speaking, this site is the place. Recommended.

Need a Gig? Try Krop

I just stumbled across this job site for creatives while reading through a great list of freelance resources at FreelanceSwitch. Krop.com offers a variety of gigs for creatives, and while the opportunities listed at Krop for writers are fewer than a graphic designers, you can still find some new media jobs where the boss is hungry for writing skills. In our new (dead) economy, chances are everyone you know is looking around to see where they might be able to hook up on the rebound when that main gig or gravy-train freelance work dries up.

Of course, none of the freelancers I know are hurting at present, but you never know when you might need to take a few extra jobs to replace a skittish publisher for a little while.  If your current markets are getting tougher to sell, have a look at Krop and see what you can find…

Ten Ways to Diversify Your Freelance Writing

Freelance writing as a full-time occupation currently faces some scary times; will our current economic problems start affecting how much work is available? If magazines and online publishers start cutting back their budgets, what does a poor freelancer do? Here are ten ways to diversify your freelance career to keep those checks rolling in even when times are tough:

10. Branch Out. Have you been toying with adding digital photography to your skill set? Graphic design? Newsletter writing? Any of these additional skills make you more marketable AND give you great source material for opening up new freelance writing markets in trade mags and industry-specific websites.

9. Volunteer. That’s right, I am suggestion you work for free. As well as the altruistic side of things, you might discover another untapped resource for articles and advice pieces. You might even get plugged in to the for-pay part of a non-profit or charity group once they find out you are a professional writer–especially if you are willing to be flexible with your rates to help out.

8. Teach Classes. Does your local community center need a guru who can teach people how to write better cover letters and resumes? You don’t have to set yourself up as a freelance writing teacher–just show people how to write better in vital areas such as job seeking, employee evaluations, even the art of “romantic communication” might be a fun community center class you can teach. The key to these types of classes is knowing how to market your class properly to interest the people in your neighborhood.

7. Hook Up With A Temp Agency. Call your nearest temp service and explain about your writing business. Find out what you need to do in order to be listed as a writer/proofreader/editor and give it a try. Continue reading Ten Ways to Diversify Your Freelance Writing

Anatomy of a Craigslist Freelance Writing Job Scam

I’ve debated the merits of using Craigslist to find freelance writing gigs, but for those of you who still use CL, it’s important to avoid wasting time on the sort of idiotic scams that pop up on CL with annoying regularity. I myself fell prey to a few of these in my less informed days, so I pass along the benefit of my experiences on to you.

The following is reprinted verbatim from a recent post to the Writing Jobs section of Craigslist:

“A media blog is seeking review writers. You will be reviewing hot products of the new age and writing 500-700 word articles on them. For the application, we will require sample reviews to be written. We have 4 openings. If you are selected as a writer, work will be part-time and 20-25 jobs per week. Will be paying $100/article. Please send your request for more information (no resumes, please) to our email. Thank you.”

Now let’s dissect this ad and see why you should avoid posts like these at all costs.

1. Nomenclature written by the cluelesss. The ad is for a “media blog”. It then goes on to say that you are expected to review ‘hot products’. We’re already off to a bad start here as a media blog would, by implication, be reviewing media. Sure, it’s possible they want you to review downloads, DVDs, or other media, but in my experience, “media blogs” are commenting on either the media itself or streaming content as opposed to disc-based material. Another warning sign here is the phrase “of the new age”. What the writer MEANS to say is “hot new products of the Internet age” or some other such nonsense. As New Age pertains to a religious movement rather than technology, my bullshit detector on this tells me that the writer is a barely-literate scam artist who is throwing around terms they don’t really understand. Again, I could be TOTALLY WRONG. But we know I’m not, don’t we?

2. Confused (and confusing) expectations. The ad starts out saying they are a blog. Then the ad states that 500-700 word articles are needed. Is this a blog or a magazine? If the “blog” is paying $100 per post, the people running this are either on the scam or are the most clueless blog owners on the planet. No blog pays $100 for a blog entry. The ad says they want to fire FOUR PEOPLE at around $2500 a month each. What kind of new blog has this type of budget? Why, a non-existent one, of course! They want to shell out $10 K a month just for writers? Are you laughing yet?

3. They want you to work for free. ” For the application, we will require sample reviews to be written”. Continue reading Anatomy of a Craigslist Freelance Writing Job Scam