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3 Workflow Changes Will Make Your Life Easier and Impress Clients

In your first year or two as a freelance writer, you focused on getting more clients to build your fledgling business. Landing a new client was a big deal, and you had time to respond to all of their (many!) emails.

Now that your business has grown, you’re drowning in email overload. Why does it take seven back-and-forth emails spread out over a week to get the basic assignment details?

When you take a break from banging your head against the wall, it might occur to you that there has to be a better way.

Guess what? There is.

It’s called having a process.

Processes 101: They key to becoming more efficient

When I started my freelance web design business, I didn’t have a process either. After my first year of business, however, I knew something had to give.

I examined my workflow from client intake to project completion and developed a streamlined process that I could repeat with each new client. Creating this process changed my business.

Among the benefits:

  • Each project took less time (so I could take on more projects and earn more money).
  • My clients were impressed by how organized and professional I was.
  • I got all the information I needed up front — no more waiting for clients to respond to my latest email.
  • It was easier and less stressful for my clients to work with me because I had clearly communicated the process.
  • I got more referral business and recurring clients.
  • Bonus: I received fewer “Hey, how’s my project coming along?” emails.

You can create your own sanity-saving process in just three steps.

As a bonus, these processes will help you improve your first and last impressions. The first two strategies will help you say hello like a pro, while the last one shows you how to say goodbye with style.

Here are three processes every freelancer should create.

1. Client intake form

Sure, you probably have the standard contact form on your website, but how often does a potential client complete the message box with all the relevant information about the assignment?

That’s what I thought.

Help the prospect help you by creating a more detailed client intake form. Think about the first questions you always have about each new project and get those in your intake form.

Examples:

  • Name, last name, website
  • Business and reason for wanting my services
  • Which service are you interested in?
  • Project description, including word count
  • What’s the deadline?

Tip: One question all freelancers should have on this form is, “How did you hear about me?” This allows you to track your marketing efforts to see which ones are paying off, so you’ll know where to focus your time next time you need a new client.

2. Welcome package

That introductory email that you rewrite for each new client?

Stop.

Create a welcome package instead. It can be a fancy PDF, a simple email template that you copy and paste, or a canned response.

While it takes some time to create this on the front end, once it’s done, you can use it again and again. All you have to do is attach necessary documents and send it to each new client.

What you include in your welcome package is specific to your business, but here are some ideas.

  • In-depth questionnaire

For more complex projects, like writing web copy, you’ll probably need to create a more in-depth questionnaire to really understand your client’s business and desired results. Create a fillable PDF or a Google form and attach it to your welcome email.

  • Process document

This may be the first time your client has hired or even worked with a writer. Break down the process step by step, so they know what to expect.

My process document is just a numbered list, but it makes it clear what happens — and when.

Things to include:

+ How many revisions you offer as part of the contract.

+ Your typical working hours and when to expect a response to an email (within 24 hours, not on weekends, etc.).

+ What you will work on first, second, etc.

+ When and how you expect payment(s).

  • Instructions

If you use project-management software or other tools a client may need to learn how to use, include instructions for common functions. One freelance writer I know found herself constantly explaining how to use Google Docs, so she included a set of instructions as part of her welcome package.

3. Goodbye package

Yep, we’re jumping to the end, but that’s because this is the step most people skip — which means you’ll stand out from the crowd if you implement it.

A goodbye package is your opportunity to wow your clients. It leaves a great impression of your end-to-end service, and lets your clients know the work is complete.

Again, what you include will be specific to your business, but here’s some inspiration:

  • What questions do clients typically have after working with you? Could you create an FAQ sheet, tutorials, or links to blog posts that answer those questions?
  • What are the next steps for your clients? If their next step is another service you provide, let them know; you could even offer a loyalty discount if you’re so inclined. If it’s a service you don’t offer, provide a referral list or helpful resources.
  • Finally, what would wow them? A style guide for their blog posts or website? A list of adjectives that reflect their brand? Spend some time brainstorming how to delight your customer.

Wrap up all the pieces into a branded PDF and get ready for the flood of referrals…and you won’t spend all your time marketing your business anymore.

My process wasn’t created in a day, and yours won’t be either. But by focusing on one piece at a time, you’ll be able to automate your workflow so you can spend more time on client work and less time managing your inbox.

Do you have a streamlined process for your business?

This is an updated version of a story that was previously published. We update our posts as often as possible to ensure they’re useful for our readers.

Photo via GuadiLab / Shutterstock 

The post 3 Workflow Changes Will Make Your Life Easier and Impress Clients appeared first on The Write Life.

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How to Respond When a Client Says Your Rate is Too High

In the freelance writing industry, it’s easy to undervalue yourself and your skill.

Just take a quick look at some of the Upwork job postings. Ten cents for 100 words?

Write it yourself, bro.

Plenty of articles review how to set your rates as a freelance writer. But it’s more challenging to find advice on how to handle a client who makes an insultingly low offer or tries to argue your rates are unreasonable.

Here’s what to say when a client bawks at your rate

This conversation will happen at some point. It probably won’t be fun. And when you’re feeling insulted or threatened or embarrassed, it’s not always easy to exit the situation gracefully.

I’ve been there! Here are some tips on how to respond when a client says your rate is too high.

1. Be warm and respectful

Warmth will get you everywhere in (almost) every situation.

I’m not suggesting you let someone walk all over you — that’s not warmth, that’s cowardice. You can be warm towards someone while still strongly asserting your value.

I used the word “warm” instead of “polite” because being polite just isn’t enough. Especially in the freelance writing industry, where we often communicate with clients via email and the phone, being polite is the absolute minimum expectation in all communication. You always have to be polite.

When you’re rejecting a client’s lowball offer, you have to up your game from polite to warm. At the same time, you want to be respectful, both to the client and to yourself.

It’s sort of a “kill ‘em with kindness” approach. You’re delivering rough news to this client: “You’re completely out of your mind if you think a person with any skill will do this job for that amount.”

Try to deliver that message not only with tact, but also with warmth. Instead of “Thanks anyway,” say something like, “I totally understand my services aren’t within your budget right now. I’m disappointed because I was so excited about this project! Hopefully we can work together in the future. Best of luck to you!”

If nothing else, you’ll be able to look back on this exchange and know you took the high road and treated another human with respect.

2. Don’t preach

This is not the time to get on your soap box.

I’m sure we could all write a four-page essay on how unfair it is that clients expect high-quality content for pennies. It’s offensive! It’s criminal! It’s an outrage!

The person who wants to pay you pennies does not care.

The only outcome you’ll achieve by stepping on your soap box and trying to teach that person a lesson is a burned bridge.

They’ll get offended, because no one likes being told they’re wrong. Then, they’ll spread the word to anyone who will listen that you’re a bad-tempered, overpriced freelancer who everyone should avoid.

Is this fair? No.

Is this real life? Yes.

Operate on the assumption that people who offer you insultingly low rates can’t be reasoned with…Because they’re unreasonable. Your reputation is more important than the nagging need to preach.

3. Prepare to make your case

If you feel the need to negotiate with a client (though I don’t recommend it if you balked at the original rate they’ve suggested), don’t walk into that negotiation without knowing your minimum writing rate. This figure is imperative because it prevents you from getting swept up in negotiation and accepting a job that’s not worth your time.

The closer you come to accepting that rate, the more wary of this client you should become, because they’re trying to squeeze you for all that you’re worth. Those people generally aren’t fun to work with, unless you have to (and we’ve all been there, so no judgement).

Don’t ever let a potential client convince you to accept less than your minimum rate. Being underpaid is far worse than working for free (here’s an eloquent explanation of why).

Remember, this client rarely, if ever, has your best interest at heart. Anyone who lowballs you is looking for the cheapest content they can get and their respect for the craft of writing is probably limited.

Let’s role play: Examples of how to respond to a lowball offer

Here are few scripts that demonstrate these tips in action.

Hypothetical client #1: The sob story

I can’t afford that rate. I’m a small-family-owned-non-profit-start-up for starving children and abused puppies and I just need someone to write for me.

This client is playing to your emotions. It’s your prerogative to donate your skills, but don’t let this person manipulate you.

Potential response: It sounds like your work is meaningful. I appreciate that my rate is outside of your budget, but I can’t go any lower than my original offer.”

“I’d be willing to offer [insert a perk here that won’t break the bank for you, like some social media promotion for the post you’re writing] free of charge, if that makes your decision any easier. If not, I’d love to work with your company in the future if your circumstances change. Thank you for the opportunity, and best of luck finding the perfect person for the job!”

Hypothetical client #2: Shocked and appalled

That rate is obscenely high. I’ve shopped around and everyone is offering to do the same work for far less than you. I can’t believe you’d expect me to pay that. You seem capable, so I’d be willing to give you the job for my rate of [insert insultingly low number here].

If you’re a good writer and you’re charging what you’re actually worth, you’re probably going to encounter this person at some point or another. In my head, this person wears a suit and gels their hair and sits at a mahogany desk overseeing his minions, and he (or she) thinks business savvy is far more valuable than any other skill, especially writing (said with a tone of condescending disgust). But that’s just in my head.

Potential response: Thank you for the offer. I’ve provided you with a number I feel is fair for the nature of this project. While I’m disappointed you don’t agree, I appreciate that you have other freelancers to choose from who might be more suitable for your budget. Thank you for the opportunity and best of luck in your search!”

Accept the loss and move on

You win some, you lose some. It’s the name of the game. Don’t spend a single minute mourning a client who doesn’t want to pay what you’re worth.

Remember: there are good clients out there. There are clients who will appreciate you, celebrate you, and pay you well. I promise!

Don’t get discouraged by a few sour apples. Every industry has them. As a freelance writer, you have the power to shape your work environment by choosing your clients. Choose wisely!

This is an updated version of a story that was previously published. We update our posts as often as possible to ensure they’re useful for our readers.

Photo via Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock 

The post How to Respond When a Client Says Your Rate is Too High appeared first on The Write Life.