Want a Smooth Freelance Experience? Select Your Clients Carefully


Since this website is called Web Writing Advice, it’s not surprising I receive a lot of questions about smoothing out the rough edges in a freelance partnership.

How can I get my clients to pay me?
What do I do when they ask for a million revisions?
Who presents the work-for-hire contract, me or the client?

These and so many other questions come across my inbox each week, and I always wonder how well these freelancers vetted the client they said yes to. Pause for a moment and remember that a partnership is a two-way commitment. Not only are they hiring you to do work, you’re also accepting them into your schedule.

Are they who you actually want to work with?

Last month I penned an article for Skyword’s Content Standard about brand purpose and how freelancers overwhelmingly (like 82 percent of them!) choose to work with companies that echo their values, beliefs and mission. This alignment then fuels authentic content that speaks from a point of experience and shared moral compass.

Now, let’s go one step further.

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Is This Partnership Even a Good Match?

As a freelancer (or if you’re a marketer, listen up!), in addition to backing what the client is all about, you also want to vet your potential partnerships for work compatibility.

Ask yourself:

  • Does their workflow fit my working style?
  • Can I meet their deadlines within my working hours?
  • Do I like their payment system and frequency?
  • How many revisions are part of the pay rate?
  • Do I like the methods of communication they offer? (Emails only, weekly video chats, using a platform, etc.)
  • Is my contact person available for questions?
  • How quickly do they reply to my questions and concerns?
  • Do they meet my income needs?
  • Does the work align with the niches and project types I want to focus on or grow?
  • Are the materials I need to do the job being offered? (resource materials, writer’s guidelines, branding documents, etc.)
  • Is there value in this partnership beyond the paycheck?

When a freelance project offer comes knocking on your inbox door, pause. Get into the habit of asking questions about the potential partnership. This might be on a phone call, online chat or email thread.

Then, get everything you agreed to in writing via a contract.

Potential clients that have worked with freelancers in the past will have a process for connecting and setting expectations at the start of the collaboration. I detail my onboarding processing in this post, The Freelancer Onboarding Process: Tips for Writers and Publishers.

Mindfully evaluating potential clients before you sign a contract creates a solid foundation of expectations for a successful working relationship. And, it eliminates lots of headaches!

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