I’m Being The Client I Wish I’d Found in My Freelance Writing Days

Lessons in entrepreneurship from my freelancing career.

I’m Being The Client I Wish I’d Found in My Freelance Writing Days
Image from the author’s Instagram

Lessons in entrepreneurship from my freelancing career.

I’ve had my fair share of client horror stories as a freelance writer.

From unpaid invoices to expecting 2x the scope for half the money, my freelance writing career was full of ups and downs.

The freelance writing model worked well for a couple years, until I realized I had way too many clients, and the only way to manage them all was to work 14-hour days.

My ambition and financial planning took me to a stage where I had no time for myself, and all I looked forward to on a daily basis was work.

That’s when I took baby steps towards outsourcing and delegating work. 

At one point in my career, I had a client who expected five $200 1200-word articles every week, and having them on a retainer basis gave me the confidence to hire my first writer.

Since then, I’ve come a long way. My team composition currently looks like — 

  • 3 writers for 3 different niches
  • 1 content manager to convey client expectations to writers and check if their work is upto the mark
  • 1 SEO expert to edit and finalize the articles.

I’m soon nearing the three-year anniversary of being self-employed, and at this special juncture in my career, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on how far I’ve come, and how my experience as a freelancer has taught me valuable lessons about running a business.

In this article, I’m sharing all the reflections from my freelancing days and how I’m implementing them as I run a content business. In other words, here’s how I’m being the client I wish I’d found in my freelancer days.

1. I don’t ask for free samples

When clients asked me for free samples, I wasn’t driven to produce my best work. All they got were half-hearted samples and content I’m not really proud of.

In some cases when the expectations for free deliverables were too high, I lost respect for them and burnt bridges. I even called out a few clients publicly for how cheap they were being.

As a business owner, the classiest thing you can do is pay people what they’re worth. Paying for one trial unit is often sufficient to judge freelancers on their — 

  • Responsiveness
  • Communication skills
  • Quality of submitted work
  • How good they’re at sticking to deadlines

If you’re hesitant about paying for a trial unit, maybe you’re skeptical about the worth the freelancer will be bringing to your business. With that mindset, you shouldn’t be hiring at all.

Business growth stems from an abundance mindset.

2. I’m reasonable while bargaining rates

When I cite $200 for a 1000-word article, if a client buys in bulk and offers me $150 for each article, I might be okay with it, depending on how long they want our engagement to be.

If they say my rates are too steep and I should be charging $20, because that’s the market rate they’ll find on platforms like Upwork and Fiverr, I wouldn’t want to talk to that client again.

As a freelance service provider, you’re giving out a part of your soul in exchange for money. 

You wouldn’t want someone to so casually undermine the value you bring to the table.

Keeping this learning in mind, I bargain mindfully when I hire freelancers.

I never undermine the person’s value addition and negotiate fairly. If they’re keen on not lowering their prices, I offer them some non-monetary incentives, like subscription to a writing tool, free mentoring sessions with me, etc.

3. I give away extra perks

I’ve worked with 10+ clients when I was a solo freelancer. The best experiences always come with those clients who put in the extra effort to make me feel welcome and like I’m a part of their team.

My best memories are from working with Swapstack, when I received a box of goodies with their logo, and an invitation to join them on their yearly employees’ retreat in Mexico.

I didn’t end up going, but that gesture was enough to make me feel valued.

Keeping this in mind, whenever I work with writers for a longer duration, I always make it a point to give them extra perks. Every writer or editor who’s worked with me gets a free invite to all workshops and courses I host. I try my best to be available when they have a career query I could help them with.

Last year, to celebrate one year of association with a writer, I sent her flowers. Her happiness on receiving the package was a reminder that maybe I’m doing some good work in my life.

Screenshot of the chat provided by the author.

Entrepreneurial lessons from my freelancing days: Final words

As business owners, it’s easy to take advantage of freelancers who might be desperately looking for work.

As someone who’s come from the same background, I understand freelancing is not easy at all. The least I can do is treat my freelancers well and make them feel appreciated for the work they’re putting in. 

To do so, here are three tiny steps I take — 

  1. I never ask for free samples
  2. I bargain mindfully without undermining their work
  3. I give them extra perks whenever possible.

In return, my freelancers give me the best work, and a positive energy that sustains my mood and helps my business grow.

“Treat employees like they make a difference and they will.” – Jim Goodnight, CEO and co-founder of SAS Institute

If you’d like to have a career as a successful freelance writer, but don’t know where to start, grab Freelance Superheroes — the detailed roadmap to start from scratch and land high-paying freelance clients.

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