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How to Keep Your Freelance Writing Clients Happy

by Susan C. Daffron, SPAWN President

As a freelance writer, your job is to create a product that your customers absolutely love. Once you're in business, you probably want to stay in business, so you can continue paying the bills, eating, and so forth. So here's a little secret to freelance writing success: it is easier, less time consuming, and less expensive to sell an existing customer than it is to dredge up a new one.

For a freelance writer that means you need to be more than just a good writer, you need to be a conscientious one. You need to be easy to communicate with and easy to find. Yes, find. You wouldn't believe how many people complain that their service provider (writer, graphic artist, whatever) has apparently disappeared off the face of the planet. So keep a client list with physical addresses and phone numbers. Don't just squirrel away a bunch of email addresses -- they can and do change all too quickly.

Always treat your writing like a business. It's amazing how many business-people fail to return phone messages and e-mail. You won't get work if you don't return phone calls. Publishing of any type is by its very nature a deadline-oriented world. Editors have no tolerance for those who waste their time.

Although editors always say it, the point can't be emphasized enough: you get more work when you meet deadlines and make an editor's life easier. Every editor has experienced the writer who procrastinates and then turns in drek. Don't be one of them!

Do a good job on every single project, no matter how small. Be sure to spell check everything you write, and get a real live human being to read your writings before you hand them in. The result will be happy editors who will be thrilled to give you more work over the years.

Many writers who are in it for the long haul keep clients for years. Trust is easily lost and much can change in the world over the course of many years. Do what you say you're going to do when you say you are going to do it. It sounds simple, but meeting deadlines is hard. Don't commit to any project you can't really do. Telling people what you think they want to hear can backfire badly in the long run.

Many writers would like to curl up with their keyboards and just write, but the reality is, to eat, you must tell the world you're in business. A big part of marketing is keeping your clients happy. With just a little effort, you too can be one of those dependable writers that editors turn to again and again.

Susan Daffron aka The Book Consultant is the President and Webmaster of SPAWN. She is the author of 12 books, including Publishize: How to Quickly and Affordably Self-Publish a Book That Promotes Your Expertise. Susan owns a book and software publishing company called Logical Expressions, Inc., which offers book layout, design and consulting services.

You can read more of Susan's publishing articles on the Book Consultant Web site.



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