Giving Clients What They Want
Unlike many kinds of work, writing is a very subjective thing. Read Meaghan's tips on understanding your clients and giving them exactly what they want.
Unlike many kinds of work, writing is a very subjective thing. One of the biggest risks that most freelance writers have to deal with is the possibility of being unable to please a client – and not getting paid for their work. Textbroker, acting as the "middle man," protects its writers by keeping the funds received from clients in a kind of escrow; assuming that the client's instructions have been followed, the writer will generally receive payment. Like most Textbroker authors, I was immediately quite pleased with the reliable consistency of getting paid here; as I've said before, Textbroker offers honest pay for honest work.
That being said, it's natural – and imperative – to always strive to meet your clients' expectations. Whether it's a five-star assignment or a less lucrative two- or three-star job, you should always do your absolute best to give the client what they want. I've seen quite a few comments on previous blogs lamenting the vague instructions given by many clients, especially out on the OpenOrder board. How are you supposed to meet a client's expectations – and receive a positive rating from them – when they provide incredibly obtuse, one-line descriptions for the orders they post? Below, I will provide a few tips and tricks about handling less-than-clear sets of instructions.
Ask For A Clarification
The most obvious way to find out precisely what a client needs is to request clarification from them. You can send the client a quick direct message and ask for yourself. I've found that you are much likelier to receive a prompt reply when you ask a specific question. For instance, if the description for an OpenOrder simply says, "Please write an informative article about dogs," and you require a bit more direction than that, send them a message asking what sort of slant they're looking for with the piece. Keep in mind that many times, a lack of specificity might mean that the client doesn't have the time or the desire to come up with a more specific idea – he may just want you to handle the whole deal yourself.
Let It Go
The problem with asking a client for a clarification is that it can slow you down a lot. How on earth are you expected to meet your daily goal when you have to postpone an assignment by an hour or two any time you have a question? That's the definite drawback to getting stumped by a vague order, and it may mean that you'll just have to let the order go. Many clients respond to direct messages expediently, but just as many of them are very busy – or might be in a drastically different time zone than you – and simply can't reply quickly. Weigh the pros and cons of each individual situation; for instance, if your question is going to be sent at the end of the day anyway, it really doesn't matter if it takes a while for the client to respond. If it happns early in the day, though, it might be best to let the order go and move on to something you're more comfortable writing.
Give It A Whirl
If you're the kind of writer who works well without a lot of hand holding, then vague assignments might be just the thing for you. Rather than hem and haw about exactly what the client wants, view a vague order as an opportunity to turn in an incredible piece of work. Review the instructions that are there and, making sure you follow them, come up with a slant for the piece you'll be writing. The Textbroker staff allows clients to send back one request for revision; if you get it wrong, you can tweak it later. As long as you've followed the instructions provided, there's little chance that your article will end up being rejected. More importantly, as long as you are willing to communicate with the client and work with them to give them the content they need, you'll remain in their good graces. You never know: your own unique style might be just what the client needs, and it could lead to a steady number of DirectOrders down the road.
Blacklist When Necessary
When you keep seeing OpenOrders from the same client appear on the boards – and get sick of wasting your time opening them up over and over again – you always have the option of blacklisting that client so that his orders won't appear for you any more. While this might seem counterproductive – after all, you're limiting the number of orders you can consider – it's actually quite savvy because it helps narrow things down, making it easier to select from orders you'll actually want to write. Just as there are writers whose styles don't agree with certain clients, there are clients whose requirements don't agree with certain writers. The blacklist option is there for your convenience, so use it at your own discretion – and keep in mind that clients receive a notification when you blacklist them.