Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Knowing When to Say "When"

I really enjoyed Catalyst Blogger's Friday post because it was truly something I could have written word for word. It might not have come out as nicely phrased as she managed to put it, but I am dealing with an eerily similar situation that also has me wondering whether or not the economy has me willing to put up with a lot more than I normally would. For me the honest answer is 'yes.'

Is it ever really worth it?

I read another writers blog a few weeks ago (sorry, I can't recall which blog right now) and something they wrote stuck in my head: "It's a lot easier to keep a client right now than it is to find a new one." Right then and there I internalized it and accepted it as true. No questions.

I won't bore you with talk of the recession, I'm quite sure you're getting an earful from much more reliable sources. Things are bad all over, the sky is falling, yada, yada, yada – all that. But I've been pretty busy and so have many of my other freelancing colleagues. So why would I blindly accept that blogger's statement as true? It all started with the client in question and the "big project" he'd been promising since last summer…

We've worked together successfully with no real issues for over a year now. So when the anticipated "big project" came, I was quite surprised to find it included a lot of big headaches.

There was a big lack of communication about what was required early on, and a few other culminating issues that resulted in numerous rewrites.

Where do you draw the line?

That's something to think about because a freelance writer's time is extremely valuable. I have gone back and forth with myself over whether or not to let the client go, raise their rates (because the work involved has changed) or just be happy and leave things as they are; but I'm NOT happy. I resent the fact that it is March and the project is still not complete. Reading Jennifer's post made me feel sad that another writer is experiencing anything similar to this.

A glutton for punishment

I have been suffering the circumstances of my own doing. Some writers are very confident in the services they provide, and refuse to lower their rates or their standards. I'm looking to them as examples.

This down period is an excellent time to break into a niche or increase rates because there ARE people out there searching for good writers. I've been doing a lot more marketing and am getting response. I'm also taking every opportunity to keep myself educated and have began to investigate a niche I'd never considered before.

What about you? Does the recession have you dealing with situations that you normally wouldn't?


Anonymous said...


So sorry to hear you're going through this. Devon Ellington, who responded to Jennifer's post (CatalystBlogger) that you refercned here said it best, "If you work out of fear, that's what you generate. You need to work from a position of strength and confidence."

When one door closes, another always opens -- if you look for and expect it to. You're doing the marketing so trust that you don't need to accept client abuse (and that's what it can become) to make a living.

The beauty of freelance writing is that there are many clients -- not just one. And as you know, most of them are a pleasure to work with.

While I understand your reluctance to cut a client loose -- definitely have some lines in place that they shall not cross before you do.

Good luck with finishing up this project with as few headaches as possible.


Devon Ellington said...

It's had me on the brink, but fortunately, I pulled back.

If we don't respect our own work, we tell our clients it's okay to show us disrespect, too. Once you work backwards like that, you can rarely if ever regain that lost ground.

The legwork I've done over the past few weeks has landed me better assignments, not just in terms of pay, but in terms of overall enjoyment of the work.

We freelance so we can CHOSE our projects, so we can work on what interests us, not to kowtow to wishy-washy people the way we would if we remained cubicle slaves.

It's one thing if you and a long-term client with a good relationship agree to different, short-term terms -- i.e., if I had a long term client I really liked and who had been a pleasure over a period of years, I'd consider a special contract if I knew that client hit hard times.

But someone who continues to be a pain just to get a little money trickling in? No. I can get higher paying and more fulfilling work with a little more hunting on my part.

Also, I have a "change of direction" clause built in to my contracts, so if a job starts to mutate, it's reflected in the price.

Kimberly Ben said...

@ Yuwanda: Thanks for that encouraging comment. I'm working hard to change the situation. Devon's comment on that post was VERY powerful. I've copied it and posted it on my monitor to boost my confidence. And you're right - most clients are a joy to work with!:)

@ Devon: Yes, it is hard to come back from going backwards. You've said that before, and I'm certainly seeing it for myself now.

Lori said...

Nice post. We've all faced this and we've all had that hard choice. I gotta side with Devon here. If we compromise once, it becomes much more difficult to hold our ground later, either with the existing client or the new one. Holding on to old clients is important, but so is holding on to sanity.

That's not to say you can't give a one-time discount here or there should you really want to keep the client.

I LOVE your point - "This down period is an excellent time to break into a niche or increase rates because there ARE people out there searching for good writers." Words to live by.

Designed by Lena