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Keep the Client Even Though You’re Turning Down a Writing Project

clientOne kind of ideal client for freelance writers is the mid-size to larger company that has multiple types of projects for you.

For example, the client might want a couple of blog posts a month, a white paper every two months, a press release now and again, even an internal manual of one sort or another. Even if they aren’t quite as organized as I making them sound, it’s often possible to get into a rhythm of both regular assignments and regular pay – a highly desirable client indeed.

If they think you can do everything

The only real problem that can come up is this sort of client is the one who, after working with you awhile, believes you can do anything. With little or no warning they are very likely to ask you for a price on a kind of project you know little or nothing about.


Here’s an example. You’ve been writing various things for this client and all of a sudden they tell you they need some Power Point slides in a hurry, and ask for your price for 30 slides.

You, talented as you are, did put together a 10 or 12 slide Power Point presentation together back when you were in college which is longer ago than you like to admit, but have not touched one since. You want to keep the client happy so you do a mad google search for what may be an acceptable price, trying to respond quickly in hopes of keeping this client.

My advice? Slow down!

Before you respond, take a deep breath. You know you don’t know the software well enough to do a great job with both the text and the graphics – but so far the only thing you know for sure is the client is trying to price a project.

Ask some questions. What’s their timing? Do they want you to source graphics or will they do that in house? What’s the purpose of the presentation? How will it be presented? Will it be running automatically or will someone actually be standing there reading the slides? (Yep, companies still do that.)

The answers the client provides will tell you what to do

You may be pleasantly surprised that, in this example, all they want from you are the words. Taking their other answers into consideration, you develop a price based on your normal rate, add a 10 percent contingency and quote the total. Chances are they’ll be delighted.

But, if you discover they want you to do 30 some odd graphics and you simply don’t have that ability, don’t panic.

Instead find someone that can handle the job for them. Maybe someone you can work with or maybe someone you’ll just hand the whole job to.

The client will almost always follow your recommendation and will think even more highly of you because you solved their problem.

Develop a little list

We are in the business of being of service. In fact, it can make sense for you to develop a list of creative types you can call on when and if you need them. I have several writers I can use if I get swamped. I’ve also got a great editor for large projects. I know some graphic artists and can call on them when that need comes up.

I usually don’t ask for finders fees – that is a percentage of what the other creative earns because I ‘found’ them the gig. – That’s a personal choice. Finders fees are certainly an option.

Your list could be your next business

Some writers will take a list like this and turn it into their next business, creating a ‘studio’ or service that provides all the services at a price. I haven’t done that because the idea of managing a bunch of people makes me slightly crazy. I’d rather write. Others love managing. Again, it’s a personal choice.

However you approach it, when you solve the client’s problem you are likely to retain that client for a long time – even when they hire someone you recommend.

Write well and often,



{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Well said. Our customers are our worth. We must take every step very wisely to keep our client happy with us.

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