Last week Jennifer Williamson over at Catalyst Blogger asked her readers a very important freelance writing question we should all think about: “What are your writerly limits?” One thing I quickly learned in this business is the importance of drawing boundaries with clients. Not doing so can result in negative consequences ranging from not receiving payment as promised to resentment toward a client who expects you to be at his beck and call or charging too low for a time intensive project.
Learning about limits the hard way
I didn’t understand this starting out. I naïvely assumed that a client who was interested in my services would automatically understand professional limits, but I was oh so wrong. Here are just a few of the experiences that quickly brought me to reality:
> Clients requesting a lower rate when they seemingly accepted my original rates.
> Clients calling me/Skyping me at odd hours, or on weekends, assuming that I should be available to them 24/7.
> Clients who balk at the idea of signing an agreement (a couple of clients actually seemed offended).
> Clients who balk at paying a 50-percent down payment to start a project.
> Clients who act as if providing me with important information about their business/product/service and target market is a big waste of their time.
I’m not entirely unreasonable. I’m even willing to negotiate under certain circumstances, especially with returning clients; but I’ve learned that just as in my personal life, you just can’t please everyone. This is my livelihood so I take it seriously. I also take customer service very seriously too.
I am professional and expect the same
I constantly strive to produce excellent writing services, meet all deadlines with no excuses and provide rewrites in a timely manner, among other things. I make myself available to my clients in the way that is most comfortable and convenient for them - whether it’s by phone, email or Skype ( phone and Skype by scheduled appointment).
Because I go to such great lengths to deliver a professional service, I must also set limits that protect me from being taken advantage of. We all have our writerly limits. You may have a different list from mine, but make no mistake it’s up to us to put our cards on the table, establish reasonable boundaries and stick to them.