It’s a brutal world out there.
I got my first freelance client towards the end of November 2020. It’s soon going to be one year of me being a freelance writer.
In the past 12 months, the journey has been a full-on roller coaster ride. I’ve had some amazing experiences with some truly great clients who’ve shown me what it means to do fulfilling work and get paid for it.
But there also have been clients that made me want to bang my head against the wall and just get done with the contract as soon as possible so I don’t have to talk to them ever again.
In this post, I want to talk about the types of clients that I’ve seen as a freelance writer and how they’ve shaped my journey so far. I’m not going to mention any names, but I will share some interesting anecdotes.
If you are a freelance writer, I’m sure this article will either make you smile or give you some insight into what you can expect from this journey.
1. The “Give me your blood” type
These clients will pay you very little. And most of the time, they pay writers by the hour, rather than depending on the amount of work.
They will micromanage every aspect of your work, demanding meetings at random hours and expecting you to be available for the same. Just because they paid you, these clients believe that they have control over your time and your life.
If you somehow fail to deliver on what you promise by the set time, then these clients are going to eat you alive.
Unfortunately, every freelancer has to go through such clients, especially at the start of their journey, before they can find the ideal client with whom working is fun and growth can be an enjoyable process.
If you have a client like this right now, my advice would be to set very strong boundaries right at the beginning of the contract so nobody has any false expectations of how much you need to work. This way, you will also be allowed to have control over your time and your schedule.
2. The Ghosts
These clients won’t micromanage every aspect of your work, but they will expect results. But even if these results are based on their inputs and feedback via calls, most of the time they won’t be available.
When you’re working with them, you have to rely a lot on your instinct and intuition because getting them to talk to you is a huge task. They’re always either too busy or so unavailable that you have no way to even know if what you’re doing is right.
If you want to extend the contract with such clients for a longer time, then you need to over-deliver on what you promised. You also need to make sure you have given the best work possible. So, even if they never really gave you feedback, they know that they have invested in the best.
Working with ghosts is hard work, I’m not going to lie. But sometimes, because you are forced to think on your feet, it helps you learn the nitty-gritties of the industry and how a company works. This can be a valuable addition to your skillset.
3. The Client-cum-Mentors
These clients will trust in your ability. And most of the time, they are the ones who will reach out to you for a contract.
I got my best clients when I wasn’t actively looking for anyone and was simply writing on Medium and LinkedIn. Every conversation with such clients feels like a mentoring session because you get to learn so much.
You’ll get to see first-hand what it’s like to be the CEO or the founder of a startup. This can push you ahead on your journey as a writer and creative entrepreneur.
Such clients will never look to pay you per hour, but they will pay you based on how much work you have done and the value your work adds to the company. There would be no micromanagement.
It’s a healthy process where both you and the client get to grow from each other. You’re taking the best parts of each other, applying them to your business, and becoming better people on the journey.
It’s very rare to find such a client right at the beginning of your freelance career. And if you haven’t yet met anyone like this, don’t worry. Your time will definitely come. You have to keep working on yourself, keep bettering your skills. And of course, keep pitching to new clients and applying for whatever positions you see.
Freelancing is never a straight-line journey and there is always a lot of uncertainties involved. Some clients would want to make you jump with excitement after every call and others would make you feel so bad about yourself, that you start doubting your skills.
At the end of the day, you should remember that you are your own boss. And even if the client is paying you, they don’t own your time.
It’s very easy to get super attached to one project. And then when that project is taken away from you due to whatever reasons, you might spiral into a loop of self-hate. So remember no matter how good the client is or how perfect the project is, it might always be taken away from you. You shouldn’t be too attached to it, and you should always be willing to explore new avenues, look for more opportunities, and to seek ways you can keep adding value to your current project.
After all, being self-employed is never about being stagnant, it’s a journey of self-growth. So as you keep growing and improving, you will definitely find better clients.
For myself, I’m very curious to see what my thoughts would be when I look back and read this article one year down the lane. I’m sure I would have had much more varied experiences in the next 365 days. And I can’t wait to embrace them all and see how they change me as a person.
What has been your experience of finding the ideal client as a freelance writer? Let me know in the comments.