How to Impress and Score Your Next Freelance Writing Client

How to Impress and Score Your Next Freelance Writing Client

Reader Comments (29)

  1. Stephanie, this is AWESOME information. As a social media manager with a design background, it is tempting to agree to take on all sorts of projects. I’ve realized that this a major disservice to myself (and to clients!), when I focus on what I’m really good at- my clients receive exceptional work, and everyone is happy!

  2. Sometimes I read information at the right time in my life, and this time is one of those times. Thank you.
    I think as starting out freelancers or single business owners, we tend to cut corners when mapping out our business agreements because we’re hungry for business.
    This is a good reminder to act professional and remind yourself that you “belong at the table.”

  3. Super helpful article. I can see lots of applications for this advice – I’m sure I’ll be referring to this article again and again. The information around deadlines was particularly useful. Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. I think a lot of it really boils down to being honest and creating a position of preeminence; like Jay Abraham says. If you firm isn’t right for the job or you don’t have experience in a particular area, be up front and honest with the client.

    Don’t try and fluff your way through a job you can’t handle.

    They will respect you more for being honest.

    I have gotten a few jobs by telling a client I may not be the guy for your project as you see it, but maybe this other avenue may be a better fit for your business; if it really is better for them.

    And, I also can attest to the fact of setting a deadline even if the client says it doesn’t matter. I’ve been in too many projects where the client says it doesn’t matter and a couple weeks in they are wondering why you’re not done yet.

    I always force myself to a time frame and have the client agree on it. It always saves headaches in the end.


  5. Offering any professional service benefits from the professional having at least some basic sales skills. You can offer quality service but if you don’t have the ability to sell yourself as the consummate professional, no one will know how good you are. Everyone thinks they offer the best service and can document this but often it is hard to set yourself apart just based on documentation (work examples.) In today’s gig economy competition is fierce, and the people who stay busy, no matter what service they provide, learned how to market and sell their service. You should always endeavor to provide quality service, but as Stefanie says, you have to craft a winning pitch. I wish she could have shared a few examples of her winning pitches to prospective clients.

    For whatever its worth here is one suggestion – listen carefully to understand your prospective clients’ needs and expectations; ask questions that genuinely show interest and comprehension of what those needs and expectations are; and, then close the sale by explaining how you are uniquely qualified to meet those needs and expectations. If you can’t close the sale, then immediately go back and ask more questions to find out what need or expectation you failed to satisfy in your initial closing pitch, address it and then try to close again. Often you have to deal with gatekeepers and it is challenging to get past them to talk to the decision maker. Again, maybe Stefanie has some suggestions or tactics she has used. Good luck everyone!

    Can anyone point me in the right direction to find a terms of service and/or work agreement that can be imported into Microsoft Word? I prefer to start with a basic framework that I can customize as needed. I also prefer not to hire an attorney to draft a document that needs to be customized each time. Thanks!

  6. AWAI has an inexpensive set of docs and templates you can use for contracts, etc. I think it’s around $30. I’ve bought their stuff before and been happy with it. They have a full refund policy if you’re not. Might be worth a look for you.

  7. Hi Stefanie
    Some good advice there. I think the biggest problem small service business owners face is themselves. Setting oneself up as a professional respected and valuable provider is often down to setting the right frame of mind. We often believe that being the cheapest is the best policy, and we also often believe the terms and conditions turn buyers off. Both are flawed ideas.

    Like you said, offering a clear and enforceable work agreement and deciding that lower priced offerings are not your competition are two critical components.

    I listened to an awesome audio book a couple years ago that I love to tell people about, it’s called “Selling The Invisible” by Harry Beckwith and it details how to market and sell services. Have you read/listened to it?

    – Larry

  8. This is a very good article.

    I’d add a couple of things:

    -we give a strict deadline to accept an offer. We warn clients first and let them know. We can’t work with clients that can’t make decisions and don’t think we’re the obvious choice. If the time expires, we don’t work with them for a minimum of a year., and I’m disinclined to work with them anyway.

    -We have some commitments to understanding that a delay in feedback on their part isn’t a 1:1 situation on our part. Meaning if they don’t get out of pre-production on Friday then it may be an entire 2 weeks before we can get them into production. This has to be signed off on before we work with them (or else our model fails).

    Anyway, fantastic article.

  9. Wonderful information! However, I just wanted to add on to the conversation that at networking events, you only have a few minutes to explain what you do and what your business does. I think an elevator pitch is appropriate at that time, and that it’s very important to know. An elevator pitch should only be 30 seconds to a minute long, and should cover the basics of what you do and how it can help the person you are talking to.

  10. Thanks Stefanie for sharing your perspectives. Being engaged in business, I realized that keeping eyes on your competitors is pretty crucial, but when it comes to dealing with prospects, we must strive to create an experience that they can’t get from anywhere else. If we do this for them, rates won’t matter.

  11. I absolutely love the “are you cheap, or are you exceptional” portion. I had to fight a little bit with my business partner on this one in getting the “exceptional” mindset. We actually do offer exceptional service, but at times, your brain will fight with that idea if you have any subconscious limiting beliefs. Lucky for me, I’ve been blessed with great coaching 🙂 Great article Stefanie!

  12. This information appears very useful for me, as I will soon be starting a music lessons business.

    Thank you for your knowledge and expertise!

  13. This is me – this is ME! It happened again in a meeting this week. I got so excited hearing about a potential client’s ambitions for using brand storytelling in a website makeover that I just focused on the stories and how we might tell them. And as much as I enjoyed our discussions, I came away from it feeling terrified because I knew there was no clear brief, no discussion of scope and no agreement on fees. And worst of all? I didn’t know how to bring the project to the start line with those parameters established.
    As a newcomer to marketing (ex TV journalist) I’ve been driven by the story opportunities I see, and I didn’t know how to incorporate the necessities of business. This helps A LOT. Thanks.

    • Thanks for the detailed example, Sherene! It’s so easy to get carried away with the creative aspects of a project.

      I’m sorry that had to happen, but it’s great that you recognize your opportunity to fine-tune your approach going forward. 🙂

  14. I love this series of articles, really!
    Being in the service business as a wellness practitioner and life coach, it’s hard work to differentiate yourself from the masses.
    I agree with don mead, everybody promotes himself through a website and they can write whatever so that making it for a prospect even harder to choose.
    Even how clients dictate price because that’s what they know and pay everywhere.
    To grow your exceptional niche business takes time, perseverance and client loyalty.

  15. Generally, I don’t try to check all day long what the others are doing in my niche, I like to do this from time to time, but not very often.
    My work needs to surface above the others by simply providing the best services to my clients.
    It took me about six months to truly start gaining a good portfolio of clients, but now after reaching some good results with my first clients, my business works by itself.

  16. This! All of this. Having such tools as discovery questionnaires at the ready has saved me endless grief. The moment a prospect tells me something like, “I can’t answer any of these questions on my marketing goals, we were hoping you could do that,” that one tool and practice has paid for itself in the time and effort to set it up.

    It doesn’t always mean the end of the conversation, but it’s a big red flag. If they realize that creating a series of articles with no clear purpose for what those articles are meant to gain them, I can instead propose helping them develop their strategy to start.

    But if they insist that they can get “any writer” to write their articles who “don’t need to worry about my strategy,” then they are not the client for me, and I am not the writer for them.

    Hard to hit a target your client doesn’t have, and gigs like that quickly turn into nothing but misery. Nope!

  17. Thanks, Stefanie, for the in-depth article. One point that struck home is that one ought to fight the natural urge to respond to the prospective client as if s/he were your friend. Responding professionally and setting your terms of service is far likely to bear better fruit than dealing with the client casually. Nice work. Excellent piece.

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