Doing Business on the Internet is not like it used to be 10 years ago. Not sure if it’s just prevalent locally, or worldwide. But the quest and desire for anonymity provided by the Internet has thrown the “Freelance World” into a tailspin. When faced with clients in today’s market it should become an inspiration to turn the experience into a lesson to be shared rather than a Divine Discontent.
After all Divine Discontent is the grit in the oyster before the pearl. As a Freelance writer one of the goals is to cultivate long term working relationships with clients, which can afford the luxury of doing what you love, writing. It could be said that aspiration has always been to live and work artistically. From the onset any artist should be a great listener. With listening comes experiences that need to be shared with others. Since we are all afforded a place to post these artistic behaviors then allow me to share with you one of these pearls.
An artist has to access creative energy, concepts and inspiration in order to generate, create, and write the idea that wasn’t there before. Committed to the idea that they alone could provide, to leave a mark on the world. Being receptive to something new while honing their craft. It is only then they become more inspired. Priorities become an important factor in this field. As an independent writer one has to respect their craft. Whether it means responding to emails immediately or using the phone, a door should always be open to communication. With that said, neither experience is profitable nor does it make business sense.
Spending an average of 15 hours a week from sending out RFP’s (request for proposals) and submitting bids on potential projects can cut into a writer’s profitability. Adjusting to and accepting certain responsibilities will eventually become easier to balance. This is part of doing business, therefore automating that process in the beginning of your freelance career is highly advised. Yet more times than not when competing in this industry, inevitably writers will face the ugly reality that outsourcing has given rise to and accomplished. Whether you are a buyer or a service provider the competition is fierce or maybe I should say farce. One has to compete with third world countries where they pack a room full of writers churning out copy for $1.50. Is it a smart decision then to invest that much time in “maybe clients” It can be, if you are bidding on your area of expertise. First rule don’t bid on projects because you want to build an online or monthly portfolio. You will spend a lot of wasted time in the process. Focus on who you are dealing with, are they a legitimate company. This cloak and dagger most buyers play on the Internet is almost comical. Here are some basic things to do at the beginning of your quest for that particular project.
o Engage the potential client with email or a phone call in order to assess what sort of client they are.
o Are they emailing you back a response in an acceptable time frame?
o Do they respect your time?
o Do they keep telling you to call them back at another time?
o Are they clear about their expectations? Let me assure you if you don’t answer yes to those questions then move on. You will be dealing with more of a headache than a happy experience. After all the reason I work as a freelancer is simple. I want to generate an income from my home. I want to spend time with my family and friends.
I do not want to work for Corporate America, been there done that. People who know me will tell you, I don’t belong in Corporate America. I am too creative and my assertive personality to be a yes sir or yes m’am employee is just not going to go over well. The key to loving how you live is knowing what you truly love. It should be straightforward, this knowing what we love. But it seldom is. After decades of letting other people influence us-the media, the magazines, our mothers, and our friends-we’re going to have to go cold turkey. The only opinion that counts from now on is your own.
Once you have secured the project protect yourself. I cannot stress enough how this can either make the experience enjoyable or a complete and utter nightmare. Protecting yourself is going to add value to your time. Have a contract and have a time frame. Write it all down, including something as simple as how many revisions. Have the client fax you a copy after they have signed it. This will not only prove you as a professional but it will also make it VERY CLEAR to the client when they start to hum and haw about what they expect. Getting a generic contract is easy, you can Google a search that will provide you with a plethora of “free contracts”.
Add your logo to the template and always include a phone number and an easy way to contact you if there are any questions. In this country business are popping up all over the Internet. Unless you are familiar with the business or have worked with them in the past I can assure you most are far from ethical, polite, or professional. Most hide behind email and big websites. They are nothing more than weasels, little rats flying at the speed of sound trying to sell their books or fast talk. Most will boast about how many employees they have and how many years they have been in business. Like I am impressed. If you have that many people on board and you are such a big shot why in the world are you dealing with a writer? I am sure they have better things to do like managing their multi billion dollar dream. Maybe it’s too much Viagra, and it has made the wrong head hard. Most who say they are CEO’s or have a snappy email signature are nothing more than want to be CEO’s.
They have illusions of grandeur and live in a dream world of who they truly are. Listen, maybe they should have better Administrative Assistants or maybe they should mention from the onset that they lack certain business qualities. You may be wondering what I am gripping about let me clear. If you are a writer and reading this let me make a suggestion spend as little time with flaky potential clients as possible. The way one can usually tell when this may be a flaky client is when they don’t respond to your email after they made a big deal out of their needs. The second reason is to help and inform the writers out there with information that is readily available to you. Private investigators are writers best friends. It’s not going to come cheap, however if you contracted a huge project and your clients have gone in communication then contact an investigator and they will find them.
These are some things you should do.
o Contact your local Better Business Bureau.
o Get as much information on this client as you can
o Send them a demand letter for payment or outline all the people you will involve.
o Send all documentation to you Attorney General.
o Always upload your work online to your web server.
o Leave it online until you are paid.
o Unless you sign a W.F.H. (work for hire) contract it’s yours to resell if you want. (I would suggest re-writing it just so you are not cheap and tawdry.)