Online content writing has become a very profitable business provided you know how to bridge the communicate gap. Like any other business, there is the economy of ‘demand’ and ‘supply’ which works here as well.
There is a difference between writing and selling the content and the major hurdle in between is communication. In this feature article, we will discuss the art of written communication (emails) with clients. Let’s deal with each step…
The First Contact
As a freelance writer, you have to create several sources for clients to contact you…utilizing social media like Facebook, classifieds like Craigslist, self publishing sites like Associated Content, Squidoo or your personal blog.
The first point of contact with a prospective client is essential because it can make or break the deal. Most often, negotiation beyond the first contact fails to continue because of miscommunication regarding assignment cost, time of delivery and writing quality.
Sometimes what also happens is the writer succeeds in getting assignments or projects but the deal falls through midway because of unrealistic client expectation or unprofessionalism on the part of the writer.
For instance, initially the client may have agreed to weekly submissions. But after two days, the client begins to hammer the writer about ‘why are there no submissions yet’?
The deal will collapse if the writer supposedly agreed to write 3000 words daily but in reality, submits only 1000 words.
All these unprofessional and unrealistic expectations create problems between client and writer.
Solution – The only solution is communication clarity. As writers, make sure you relay your terms and conditions clearly and ensure that the client understands it.
As clients, make sure you discuss the cost and deadlines seriously, get the writer to agree to your terms and conditions, and then move on with the assignment.
Of course, the primary way to do this is clear written communication. Both clients and writers should keep a general questionnaire ready.
Clients can ask for:
- Writing samples
- Cost per assignment
- Variety of writing tasks undertaken
- Turnaround time
Writers can ask for:
- Complete assignment instructions
- Submission time
- Submission format
- Payment mode and timing
Get everything in email writing, creating a separate folder for each client/writer and adhere to the pre-arranged terms. If both the writer and client get past the point of the first contact smoothly, it can lead to a successful and long lasting client – writer relationship.
Starting With Assignments
One such bone of contention between clients and writers is the style of writing.
We mentioned this in ‘The First Contact’ but it’s here that it merits an explanation. In simple words, a client may object to the style of writing and demand an edit. Should a writer agree? Or, should there be any style of writing that’s acceptable?
The fact is clients can be fussy unnecessarily and writers can sometime mislead a client. This is something that only a client or a writer who has experience in this field can tell you, so follow closely!
In the online writing world, writers will get clients who are easy to please and some who are not. It’s the second category one needs to deal with. We know the freelance writing business these days falls more in the outsourcing category.
For instance, a company in US can contract writers in Australia to provide online and offline content. Truly, there is no problem in this until the client turns fussy or makes unrealistic demands.
The core problem lies in the attitude of the client. A client may ask for edits just because the article written by the freelancer does not read as if the client has written it themselves. Now, can the writer be blamed for this?
On the other hand, sometimes writers mislead by not supplying the kind of content the client wants. This happens when the client notices discrepancies between the sample article provided by the writer in the beginning and the actual article the client receives when the assignment progresses.
It is not illegal if a writer has a team of other writers but it is wrong to mislead the client thus. The style of writing should remain the same in both the sample and the assignment content provided.
Solution – For clients, the solution lies in prioritizing the kind of content you want. If you want your articles written in US English, convey the same to the writer rather than wasting time later on editing it.
Moreover, it is essential for clients to accept the style of writing the freelancer uses. No two individuals can write in the same manner so it is actually preposterous to expect that the writer will actually write like you. The best way ahead is to carefully analyze the sample piece and then decide.
For writers, the solution lies in delivering what you promised. If you lead a client to expect a certain style of writing from the sample article, make sure you follow it through till the end.
Both clients and freelance writers should synchronize their expectations from the current assignment and then continue.
PayPal, MoneyBookers and Wire Transfer are the popular methods for clients and online writers to send and receive payments. When an online freelance writer begins to write for a new client, it is common to have apprehensions about whether the client will really pay in the end.
Let us accept the fact that there are scammers out there ready to take advantage of writers just as in anything else. They ask writers to produce content and then vanish without a trace.
To avoid all such problems later on, it is best if the writer asks for an advance payment. Or write the first one or two articles, get them approved and get paid. This way the client is assured of quality writing and the freelance writer knows that the client is genuine.
While both of them are in the negotiation stage, it is wise to finalize a day for payment as well. You can get paid weekly, bi-monthly and monthly payments, whichever mode of payment is suitable for both client and writer.
It is essential to set payment terms in the beginning so that there are no payment hassles later on. Communicate with the client and vice versa. Get the settlement in writing and save it in your email folder.
Copyright rules for online freelance writers are too vague. Generally, when you are writing online, you transfer the copyright for the content developed to the client (buyer) once you’ve received payment.
This is the common way it works in the freelance writing world. What writers are actually doing is ghost writing for a client and getting paid in return. The kind of content doled out could be articles, blogs, product reviews, press releases and others.
Problems between writers and client arise when the writer uses that content as ‘samples’ to get more clients. Suppose a freelancer writes 100 articles on ‘internet marketing’ and transfers the copyrights after receiving payment.
Then comes another client who is also looking for content on ‘internet marketing’ and is asking for samples. What most of the freelance writers do is send a previously written but copyrighted sample to the new prospective client. This can be a clear violation of copyright laws and if the previous client comes to know about this, he/she can demand an explanation and ask for a refund.
Solution – For writers, the best way out of this is to ask permission from your client if you are planning on using content created for the client as samples for future assignments.
Ask the client to send you an email NOC (National Occupational Classification) highlighting the article you can use. For clients, there is nothing wrong in giving such sort of permission.
You just need to make sure that the writer does not resell content once sold to you. Similarly, ask the writer to relay in writing that the content will not be sold further.
Email communication is an indispensable part of negotiation between new clients and writers. Working as a freelance writer is easy once you learn the ropes of this business, which can only come with experience.
Certainly, clearly written communication is an important aspect. If freelance writers and outsourcing clients can get past the first point of contact without any problem, there are grim chances of problems later on.
Freelancers and client comments welcomed below…