Do you ask enough questions?
Many freelance writers and other freelancers simply don’t ask questions often enough, particularly business questions. Consider:
An editor buys a piece, publishes it and your check doesn’t arrive, not in a week, or ten days or even a month. Picking up the phone and asking the editor when to expect the check will often result in the check and it may even help you develop a more productive relationship with the editors. Yet many hesitate to ask for fear of offending someone or appearing greedy.
It’s my contention that asking when to expect to get paid is a business-like question and actually helps build your reputation as a professional.
A potential client calls and you like the sound of the project. Asking what their budget is will reveal all sorts of things you need to know. However, many writers won’t ask for fear of scaring the client off or hearing something they won’t like.
If, however you ask this question you’re likely to discover if this client is really for you or not. Either way it’s a legitimate business question.
A potential client lets you know they are considering at least one other writer. Asking “how will you choose?” can open up the conversation in ways that either move the relationship forward or let’s you know this one isn’t for you.
Here you will find out either what their criteria is or if they are looking only for the lowest bidder. No matter what their answer is you’ve gained needed information.
Asking an open-ended question like “why do you want to do this?” can tell you if they are focused enough to hire a writer or if you need to help them find out what they’re really doing.
“Why do you want it in such a hurry?” is a question that will tell you a lot about how the client thinks.
“How much time can you set aside to give me edits and feedback?” may help the client understand their role and make your life easier.
“Why do you want this project to start now?” might reveal that there really isn’t any urgency, or it might tell you what the urgency really is.
Do you see what I mean?
All of these questions except the first are open ended, designed to let the person you’re talking with tell you what’s really going in in their mind, what they really want.
You, of course, will have to listen carefully. Chances are if you ask good questions, the answers will lead to more questions and you and your clients will become truly clear on the projects you’re doing.
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