As I have now hired a few freelance writers to staff write or ghost write for my sites, and have spent years being one myself, I thought it would be interesting to share my experience and what you should and shouldn’t do to keep your business going.
Create a nice profile. Wherever you sell your work, have a nice page with your picture, links to your published work, what you can write about, and your rates. If information is missing, people will go elsewhere. This is a buyers’ market so get yourself noticed. If you have your own outlet, like a blog or a regular column somewhere, even better.
Reply quickly. No need to spend your day stuck to the computer, checking your emails twice a day should be enough, but taking three days to reply to inquiries will not get you much work.
Be proactive. Know a few sites you would like to write for? Even if they do not say openly they are looking for a writer, it doesn’t cost much to write them, with a link to the marvelous profile you just created. Opportunities rarely come knocking.
Ask questions. You can have a template asking your customer about his tastes, what they want written, etc. better take a little time to get the order rather than a lot of time in modifications for an unhappy customer.
Keep track. If you have different deals with different people, make a note of who gets what. I bought a post once, and got a much shorter one “because I didn’t remember I told you I would write that much”. Seriously? Do I need to hold your hand while you write too?
Set an intro price. If you want people to notice you, offer a few posts at a lower rate than usual.
Be clear about your rates. If the first post is half price, be clear that following posts will be more expensive.
Keep a client file. Every once in a while, you can touch base to see if they have more work. On a related topic, I talk about how to manage ad deals and track clients, payments, etc. with a similar methodology.
Follow your work. Has your post been published yet? Once it is, you can ask for more. Until then, stay put.
Be independent. You know how to do your job, do it, do it well, deliver. Be as low maintenance as possible.
Bonus points: promote your work. If you tweet, share on social media, comment on your posts… you earn extra points. You can ask for a slightly higher rate too. But if you do it out of your own initiative at first, you may get more repeat business.
Take longer than you said. If I buy a post and you give me seven days deadline, I expect my post by day 7, at the latest. No matter whether you write essays for bid4papers or articles for an online publications, there is always a deadline of some kind. Don’t say two days if you can’t deliver. I don’t mind waiting, I mind people being late.
Write less than what you offered. I bought “500 word posts” on a freelance site and was given a 340 word post. A little short, aren’t we? Suffice to say I won’t be buying more.
Change the conditions half way. X word for $X in X days. Both parties accept, let’s write. If it is WAY more research than expected, explain why you think the job is worth a bit more, otherwise, bite your tongue and charge more for the next client.
Tell me your life. I am paying you for a service and expecting you to do the job for that fee. I don’t care if your cat is sick.
Say your rates are too low. If you need to pay the bills, raise your rates but don’t complain that YOU ACCEPTED the rate YOU published and find it low. I didn’t set the rate, you did. I bought a few posts on a site, at a low rate. Then the writer said “I will honor the rate, but your next posts will be double”. First, I didn’t ask for more, and then, if you don’t want to work for the rate you advertised, remove your ad, don’t blame me.
Be greedy. First, do your best to deliver a quality work. Then, we may talk about more work at a higher rate. Don’t try to get more before you even delivered your first work.
Complicate things. It should take two emails to deal with you. First email: “Hi, thank you for your purchase, please let me know what you need exactly” or “Hi, my rates are X, if you want to order, please let me know exactly what you need.”. Second email “Hi, here is your post as agreed, I hope you like it, thanks for your business”. If directions are unclear, there may be a third email, with you guiding the client to be more precise. 12 emails for a post is too much. If people HIRE OUT, it is because they are busy. I spent so much time dealing with one writer (and learning about their holiday plans, health concerns, criticism of my site!!!) that I would have better written the post myself.
Be a spammer. I said above you can contact former clients for more work, I would say maximum once a quarter. More, you are a spammer and your email will go straight where it belongs.
Sell yourself short. If you sell your work for less than you think it is worth, you will be bitter and resentful, and your clients will feel it. If you bid too low, you are not doing yourself or your fellow writers a favor. Know what you are worth and don’t settle for less, unless you really need cash.
To sum it up, the experience should be as painless as possible for the client. It should be easy to
– Find you
– Know what you can do
– Know your rates
– Know your delivery time
– Order and pay you
– Send you the instructions
– Get the work
On a related topic, check my tips on how to stay inspired as a freelance writer