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11 – Freelance Writers Business Problems – Dangers of the Single Client Freelance Writing Job

freelance writing jopThe potential client offers you the freelance writing job of a lifetime – an actual living wage in exchange for roughly fulltime work – and you get to work at home.

Do you take it?


Before you say yes, consider the following:

Will you be paid by the hour? If so, as you get better at your job you’re likely to get paid less – which is backwards. Time to negotiate this freelance writing job to a flat monthly fee. That way, as you get better your hourly will go up, as it should.

Is it really a living wage? Do you know what you should be earning an hour now that you’re paying self-employment taxes, for your own equipment, sick days and vacations and retirement? And maybe even some insurance? Setting fees is your responsibility.

What about existing clients? Will you have room to keep writing for them? If it means working long hours and six or seven days a week, see if you can reduce your obligation to the new client to leave you reasonable down time.

The biggest problem with this freelance writing job

You may have already figured this out, but the biggest problem or danger with this freelance writing job is that they either will be or will become the only client you have.

Which, if they are paying enough, is lovely until… they decide they don’t need you any more.

When a freelance writer depends on a single client for their income or even the majority of their income, it’s a disaster waiting to happen. For in truth, all clients eventually move on.

They move on for lots of reasons, including:

  • A principal in the company dies.
  • They close the business.
  • They sell the business.
  • They go bankrupt.
  • They decide to hire the bosses niece who just graduated from J school.
  • They decide they don’t like the way you write anymore.
  • They fire the person you reported to and the new person wants to hire someone else.
  • They just disappear and you never know why.

I can’t tell you the number of writers who have told me over time that they depended too much on one client and eventually that client quit them.

What to do with a full time offer

It’s so very tempting to simply just accept it and keep your fingers crossed. This strategy can work, if you have a plan.

For example you might take such a gig for long enough to get build some savings and/or pay off credit card debt.

Or you might recognize that what they require will take you less time than they think. This is, of course, somewhat of a moral dilemma – although if they need a particular number of words or articles or whatever every month, the fact that you happen to be quick isn’t really their problem.

Or, as happened to me not long ago, I recognized that they wouldn’t need me full time for long. I didn’t turn them down, but got them to raise my rate. As suspected, about three months later they didn’t need me at all. I saw the change in the business model come before they did. I’m not always that wise.

How you respond really does depend on your skills, your client base, and what they think they need.

Think long and hard before you put all your freelance writing eggs in that single basket.

Have you ever been tempted by a single client? Have you been able to make it work?

I’m writing an ebook about Business Solutions for Freelance WritersSign up for early notice now.

Write well and often,

Anne Wayman freelance writer





{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Anne this is a very practical advice. But the problem with me is that I am still searching for a freelance writing job.I have no idea as to whom to approach or where to approach.It will be nice if I get some guidance from you.By profession I am a Technocrat.

  • I’m embarrassed to say that this has actually happened to me! When the project ended (very abruptly!) I was scrambling and scurrying around trying to fill that massive income gap. It was devastating but the lesson was learned.

    • Don’t be embarrassed Sandy! It’s happened to many of us. As you say, lesson learned and thanks for sharing your story.

  • Great advice, Anne. Even if you have one big client, it’s a good idea to keep some other clients on your list so you have something to fall back on.
    Sharon Hurley Hall recently posted..Blogging Update – Q2 2014My Profile

    • Yeah, always have some sort of backup work is probably the best way to do it.

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