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How Freelance Writers Can Establish a Peer Relationship With Clients

peer relationship with clients

More than 30 years ago now, I had no idea how valuable my writing actually was, and is. Although I knew I wanted to write for a living it was hard to imagine that anyone would be willing to pay me to write, let alone be willing to pay me well. In those days the person with the paycheck held all the power.

If I offered to write for $.10 a word, and they offered five cents a word I was sure they were right and I was wrong. A couple of times it was so bad I actually didn’t insist on payment when they told me they didn’t like my work.

In short I always felt in a down position. It never even occurred to me I might ever be in a peer relationship with clients.


Somehow I felt they knew more and were worth more, or somehow more valuable than I was.

I know wasn’t alone in this. In fact, it seems, many freelancers never really come to value their talents and realize how much their clients need them.

Why you are on a par with your clients

If you don’t feel you’re in a peer relationship with clients, it’s time to change your attitude. The CEO, the sole entrepreneur making $1 million a year, or the HR director looking for writers are just people too — they have a different set of experiences than you do and in some cases at least are making way more money than you do. Neither the differences nor the money say anything about their intrinsic value as a person nor about yours.

If they didn’t need a writer chances are you wouldn’t even be talking with them. If they knew how to write it themselves or how to find someone in their organization that knows how to write it they would not be considering dealing with a freelance writer. You’ve got something they want – your writing ability.

If a potential client tells you your fees are outrageously high, what they are really saying is either they can’t afford you or they don’t value writing. If they can’t afford you so be it. You might even want to point them toward a less expensive writer, sowing some good karma. If they don’t value writing you don’t want to deal with them anyway.

Paychecks and power

Paychecks are freighted with power issues. If you’re feeling broke it does seem as if the person who has the ability to write you a check is in power. For many people even if they’re not broke or feeling broke the person who writes the check has the power.

The ability to pay, however, is not the only issue in the game. You have the ability to write well and to write something that the client needs.

As you come to recognize your own value as a person and your own value as a writer you will also come to realize that your ability to write puts you on a par with the client. It takes time and practice for many of us to come to this realization; it’s worth every bit of effort you put into it.

You are the only one who can change your view of yourself and your writing. As your view changes so will the world’s — as new-agey as this sounds it turns out to be absolutely true.

This doesn’t mean you’ll get every job you bid on what it every job will go smoothly. It does mean you’ll be able to negotiate more comfortably and more successfully. It also means your income will increase over time. Finally it means you’ll have more fun.

Writers Worth Month

Lori Widmer recognized many writers have problems valuing their skills. Several years ago she declared May would be Writers Worth Month. She kicked off the program this year with a blog post called Writers Worth: 101 Best Blog Posts for Your Freelance Writing Career

It’s followed up with eventually daily posts during the month by writers who share stories about finding their own value as writers, how they approach markets, how they balance their lives and much much more. You’ll recognize many of the writers there from the web. You could do worse than make sure you read each of the month’s worth of posts there.

Write well, and often,

annesig.




{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Seeing myself as equal to clients is something I struggle with because I still sometimes have the idea that because they pay they are the boss. Of course, that’s not true but changing this kind of belief takes time. Great post Anne!
    Manolis Athanasiadis recently posted..Photovoltaic CellsMy Profile

    • Glad it’s helpful… keep working on it… when you freelance you’re the boss… in fact, in life no matter what, we are the boss of ourselves.

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