Part of developing a successful freelance writing business is knowing when to say ‘no’ to impossible clients and/or impossible requests.
Much of my freelance writing business is ghostwriting books. Not too long ago one of my ghostwriting clients decided he wanted a major change in the direction of a book that was about 3/4 finished.
We talked back and forth and over the weekend I sent yet another description of the different concept.
Monday, I got a reply saying I was on the right track but could a series of changes be made in time for a Tuesday conference. Yes, that was changes in the book. I was shocked.
You Are In Charge
My first reaction to the email asking for that kind of speed was anger. It was an unreasonable request, at least the way I understood it.
Then I remembered that I’m in charge of what I do, not a client. I also know this client pretty well and figured they really didn’t understand what they were asking of me.
I read through the requested changes again from a state of “well, how much can I get done?” point of view. There were two or three pages I could see I could change rapidly that would most likely demonstrate some of the shifts he client wanted.
I sent an email back saying I could produce no more than three pages of writing for him in the time frame, which by now was less than 24 hours.
About half an hour later the client emailed back that whatever I got done would be appreciated.
Suggest An Alternative Solution
After I’d written, let it sit for half an hour, and did some editing, I sent it along with questions I needed answered before I could really tighten the thing up, and pointing out that there were errors, or misunderstandings, but probably enough to go on given the short time I’d been give.
I didn’t totally say no to this client. If, however, he had insisted on more being done I would have said flat no. Or if the request had come in on a busier day.
I am no longer willing to try to do the impossible. It wears me out and usually doesn’t satisfy the client either.
Often a client doesn’t realize what they’re asking. After all, they hired us to write because they can’t. Of course they don’t understand what’s involved. It’s up to us to teach them that.
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