5 Things to Consider When Negotiating a Deadline With Your Client

Mark your calendar!

Every freelancer has his or her own preferences when it comes to scheduling deadlines.

Maybe you don’t want to work on the weekends so you never schedule deadlines on Mondays and Fridays. Maybe you prefer specific deadline days for specific clients. Or maybe you don’t schedule more than one deadline a day even if it means accepting less work.

While you can set your own deadlines, the reality is that a lot of times clients have their own preferred deadlines. If you can accommodate their preferred deadline… great! In case you can’t, the next course of action is negotiation.

Below are five things you should consider when negotiating a deadline with your client.

1. Your workload

Sounds like a no-brainer right? Unfortunately, it’s often the most overlooked aspect of deadline negotiation.

Just because you have a deadline free day next week doesn’t mean you’ll be able to submit the work on that day.

Take a look at your current workload. Do you have any big deadlines coming up? Is there a project that needs your attention all week? Does the suggested deadline give you enough time to complete the work?

Unless it’s a rush job, just taking a cursory glance at your calendar should be enough to give you a fair idea of your current work load.

For rush jobs, figure out which deadlines can be moved around or how many more hours you’ll need to work. Just don’t forget to charge extra!

Be diligent about pencilling deadlines in your calendar—if you aren’t already. Set up recurring alerts for clients on a retainer.

A client of mine requires submissions three times a month. We decided on what three dates he wanted the submission and then I saved them in my calendar as a recurring event.

You can go the big paper calendar route or you can go with Google Calendar. Both work brilliantly!

2. Your work pace

While work load is an important factor to consider when negotiating a deadline, the pace at which you work is equally important too.

If you’re a slow and steady worker or get distracted easily, you’ll need more time than someone who’s used to banging out work in one go.

So that 1000 word article you need to write for a client? You won’t be able to finish it in a couple of hours if you’re not a fast writer.

Give yourself enough time to write, rewrite and edit your work when deciding on a deadline.

3. Your schedule

Saying that every freelancer has a schedule feels like a bit of an oxymoron since most of us start freelancing to escape the dreary schedule of a 9-5 job. But the truth is, most freelancers have some semblance of a routine or schedule.

If you take Wednesdays off, or a half day off on Monday or even choose to have a deadline free Friday. As long as it’s a regular occurrence, it become a schedule.

Me? I never schedule deadlines on Mondays and Fridays if I can help it because I end up working over the weekend if I do.

4. Unforeseeable events

Sometimes, even the best of plans fail because of unforeseen events.

You could catch a cold, there may be a storm, or God forbid your computer dies! All of these things can happen without warning.

To avoid missing the deadline because of any unforeseen situation, give yourself a couple of days of breathing room and negotiate a deadline with your client that gives you a couple of extra days to work on the project if you want to and to give your client a heads up if you won’t be able to meet the deadline.

This way, you’re covered should anything unexpected happens. Just make sure you pencil in the deadline two days earlier than the original one to stay on top of it.

Sending work early impresses clients but not sending work on time does just the opposite.

5. Missed deadline contract clause

Just as there’s a contract clause about late payment, there’s often a contract clause about missed deadlines.

To be honest, not many clients have the clause in their contract but I the way I see it, if we charge them extra for late payment, it’s the client’s right to set a penalty for late submission.

Of course, clients generally let the occasional missed deadline slide but if make a habit of it; it won’t be long before you land in hot water.

A missed deadline clause is a very strong motivator to meet deadlines. If you have one in your contract, make sure you treat it responsibly even if your client never invokes it.

Negotiating deadlines with clients

Project deadlines are to a freelancer what a compass is to a traveller – if it weren’t for them, we’d be lost.

Clients realize that it’s not always possible for the freelancer to accept their deadlines and are often flexible with them. If you can’t agree to the initially preferred deadline, make the process of setting a new one as simple as possible.

Apologize and let them know that you won’t be able to complete the work by their preferred date. Emphasize that doing so would affect the quality of your work and ask them to suggest another date.

Make it easy for them and give them three deadline options that suit you. In case they really can’t move the deadline, see if you can do some rush work? Offer the possibility to them and let them know it will cost them a little more.

And finally, if you really can’t accommodate them and they can’t move the deadline, refer them to another freelancer who can.

How do you negotiate deadlines with your clients? Share your best tips!

Posted in General

5 Reasons Freelancers Accept Low-Paying Work And How To Break Free Of Them

Working for peanuts

Low-paying work is a reality for many freelancers—and probably is or has been for you too. It certainly was mine for a long time.

Come to think of it, I don’t know any freelancer who started out at the top of the freelancing pay scale. I do know plenty who started at the bottom though!

Unfortunately, I also know plenty who’re still stuck writing for low pay. If you aren’t, then you definitely know someone who is. Having spent time in the low-paying rut myself, and having talked to freelancers who still are, I’ve realized there are five reasons freelancers accept low-paying work—even when they don’t want to.

1. Lack of experience

Freelancers with little or no experience are insecure. They don’t have any samples worth writing home about or former clients to vouch for them. How will they convince someone to pay more for their work?

The key here is not to think in terms of experience but in terms of providing value.

To be honest, it’s a rare freelancer who isn’t intimidated by his or her lack of experience. I was so intimidated I wrote my first article for $5!

It wasn’t long after I saw the results my clients were getting from my writing that I realized I should be paid more.

Pay attention to the results your clients get from your writing. And when those results reflect favourably towards you, move in and ask for a raise. Use those results to convince prospective clients (and yourself!) that your increased rates are worth it.

2. Lack of samples

Lack of samples isn’t as big a problem as lack of ‘usable’ samples is. Many freelancers start off by writing for content mills (I did too), which leads to all their samples being written for content mills.

That’s not something we want to advertise to prospective clients.

Getting usable samples is not the mountain we make it out to be though. It’s very simple to get writing samples. It’s as simple as starting your own blog, guest posting on other blogs, and doing pro bono work.

For more ideas on getting samples, read 5 Simple Ways To Get Writing Samples When You Don’t Have Any

3. Lack of clients

If you’ve been writing exclusively for content mills, you probably don’t have actual clients yet. You’re unsure of how to go about getting clients when all you have is mill work to your name. And let’s be honest, who respects mill work anyway?

The only thing you need to land actual clients are samples and we’ve already covered how to get them above.

Take a good look at your personal, professional and social networks. Have you made it clear that you’re a writer for hire? If not, it’s time to do so. Send out an email letting your contacts know about what you do. Create an email signature and let it tell people if you don’t want to toot your own horn. Create a writer website to refer to prospective clients and include an about, samples and hire me page.

4. Lack of confidence

A freelancer’s lack of confidence stems from their lack of experience and belief in their writing abilities.

Here’s something a client told me when describing his business’s unique selling point to me. He said, ‘No one else does what we do, like we do. No one else brings the exact combination of knowledge and expertise to the table that we do. No one else…’

So here’s the thing: No one writes like you do and no other writer brings the same set of writing skills that you do to the table.

In short, no one does it like you do.

5. Lack of vision

Another thing that keeps freelancer stuck in low paying writing gigs is a lack of vision. If you don’t know where your freelance writing business is going, you won’t know what to do to move forward.

Do you even think of your freelancing as a business?

Figure out what you want to achieve with your freelancing, where you want it to go and how much you want to earn. Having clear goals and a vision of where you want to be will give you the added boost you need to break free from low-paying writing gigs.

Need to earn more? How To Break Free From Low-Paying Writing Gigs (And Earn More) is 6-week ecourse that shows you how to do just that. Email courses not your thing? You can also get the self-study or ebook version of the course—at a lower price.

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Why ‘Write Like You Talk’ is the Worst Writing Advice You’ll Ever Get

Don’t write like you talk

For the longest time, I was scared to say that I thought writing like you talk was bad advice.  I was the new, unknown kid on the block. What did I know?

Then Men With Pens published Why You Should Never Write Like You Talk and I thought: Yes, exactly!

Secure in the knowledge that my opinion had been validated by an A-list blog, I promptly forgot all about it. It wasn’t until I read Mark Harai’s post on writing like you talk that I started thinking about it again.

To summarize, Mark says his writing became better and started yielding results when he started writing like he talked.

So how is his post different than all the other posts giving the same (bad) advice of writing like you talk?

It’s different because he knows that writing like you talk is incomplete advice. He knows that the advice will only work if you know how to talk. Luckily for Mark, he’s a good orator.

Write like you talk, but only if you know how to talk

The advice worked for Mark because he knows how to talk.

Let’s stop and think for a moment. How many of us can claim that we’re good speakers?

And if you think you are, what makes you so sure?

I thought I was fairly articulate till I recorded my first audio interview and couldn’t believe how idiotic I sounded! In fact, I still do. You can listen to the painful experience here.

Thankfully, I’ve learned the art of editing audio recordings and rerecording my parts of the conversation if I still sound like a bumbling idiot after editing.

A quick way to find out how you really sound while talking is to record a Skype conversation. Next time you talk to someone over Skype, record the conversation and listen to yourself.

Are you really as good a talker as you thought?

Write like you want to talk

As I commented on Mark’s post, I’m a better writer than speaker so for me it’s always made sense to write like I want to talk.

I want to talk like an articulate, composed individual who isn’t uncomfortable speaking in front of an audience. Not like the nervous scatterbrain I really sound like.

Verbal communication is not structured. It’s a free flow of thoughts with lots of repetition.

Written communication on the other hand is structured, focused and has a clear message.

So instead of writing like you talk, try writing like you want to talk.

I’m curious to know if the ‘write like you talk’ advice worked for you. Or if like me, you discovered that it needed some serious amendments?

Need to earn more? How To Break Free From Low-Paying Writing Gigs (And Earn More) is 6-week ecourse that shows you how to do just that. There are only 10 spots available so sign-up before they get filled! Email courses not your thing? You can also get the self-study and ebook version of the course.

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How to Impress the Socks Off Your Client Before Writing a Single Word for Them

Much as we’d like to be judged by the quality of our work alone, that’s not the only thing clients look for in a freelancer.

Clients love or hate a freelancer based on his or her ability to impress them. To that effect, there are three rules of freelancing.

  1. Produce your best work,
  2. submit the work on time,
  3. and be easy to work with.

Neil Gaiman’s commencement speech to the graduating class (2012) of University of the Arts cinched it when he said,

“People keep working, in a freelance world, and more and more of today’s world is freelance, because their work is good, and because they are easy to get along with, and because they deliver the work on time.

And you don’t even need all three. Two out of three is fine.

People will tolerate how unpleasant you are if your work is good and you deliver it on time.

They’ll forgive the lateness of the work if it’s good, and if they like you.

And you don’t have to be as good as the others if you’re on time and it’s always a pleasure to hear from you.”

In short, clients are impressed by three things:

  1. The quality of your work,
  2. Your ability to meet deadlines and
  3. How easy working with you is.

It’s that last point we’re going to be talking about today. If you’re a freelancer worth your salt, your work is bound to be good. It may not be the best, but it definitely is a cut above the rest.

Can you wait to impress your client with the quality of your work and your diligence towards deadlines, though? At the very least, it takes a couple of weeks from the day the client contacts you to the day you turn in the first draft.

By that time, the client has already formed an opinion of you.

So how can you impress the socks off your client before you’ve even turned in the first draft?

Know their time zones

Knowing your client’s time zone and keeping your communication limited to their working hours makes a big impression. That you get a faster response as a result, is an added advantage.

Unless it’s urgent, I don’t email my clients before 8 am their time. This means that my U.S based clients are only accessible after 4:00 p.m. and U.K based clients after 11 am. If I need a response on the same day from my client in Australia, I have to contact him well before noon as he’s 6 hours ahead.

To stay on top of the times zones, set up different clocks on your computer and phone. Use the world clock option in your phone and refer to it whenever you need to.

While working around your client’s time zone isn’t required, the extra effort you put into making sure you contact your client during his work hours does not go unnoticed.

Be available when the client is

No matter which time zone a client is in, I always make a note of what time a client is emailing me.

A client of mine always emails me after 4 p.m. his time. Since he’s two hours behind me, it usually means his emails reach me after 6 p.m. If I’m expecting an email from him, I usually clock off a little early and get back for another hour’s work at 6.

He gets his response , and I get the information I need for his project in minutes. This gives me the entire next day to work on it and stick to the deadline. It’s a win-win situation.

Unless it’s an inappropriate time for you, make it a point to be available when your client usually emails you. The client will be impressed , and you’ll both get a lot done.

Reply ASAP

If you’re anything like me, seeing an unread email in your inbox drives you batty. You continuously check your email on your phone – even when you’re watching Euro 2012, to make sure you don’t miss an important email.

While a part of me knows I don’t need to be this obsessive about email, I can’t help it. Checking my email this regularly helps me stay on top of client emails.

More than one client has appreciated receiving a reply within an hour.

No matter what you do, don’t enable push notifications on your phone though. You’re never going to have any peace otherwise , and you’ll probably miss your favourite team score the winning goal too!

Be personable

At the end of the day, personality is everything. More than one client-freelancer relationship has ended because of a clash of personalities.

The one thing that always works is a friendly personality. Always ask after the client, thank them and remember any personal tidbit they tell you.

If a client mentions having a tough week, ask about it the next time you email. If one mentions having a kid, occasionally ask after him. If they mention vacation time, help them out by turning work in early before they leave.

A personal touch goes a long way. Let your client know you’re paying attention. Keep the relationship professional at all times though. Emailing just to catch up is not professional. If you’re friends with your client, use their personal email.

Impressing the socks off your client

It’s simple really – the easier you are to work with, the more your client will love you.

Just team that up with excellent work and meeting deadlines every time and you’ll be your client’s ideal freelancers.

And if you can’t manage all of them, two out of three is all you need.

How do you make it easy for your clients to work with you? Do they look forward to hearing from you?

Posted in General

Why You’re Not ‘Just’ a Freelance Blogger

Here’s the thing. You’re not just a freelance blogger

You’re also a content planner, proof reader, editor and in-house blog consultant.

If you come up with your own topics to blog about for your client, find yourself proofing and editing work other than your own and explaining different aspects of blogging and blog related marketing to your client, you’re all of the things mentioned above.

Knowingly or unknowingly, every freelance blogger I know wears these hats.

Here’s a question for you though:

Are you charging for the extra services you’re providing?

You do realize that those are extra services right?

I didn’t.

For the longest time I thought it was part and parcel of blogging for clients. It wasn’t long before the time I spent doing all these extra tasks started catching up on me. I was planning their content, even editing their work and answering any and all questions my clients had about their blog.

I was doing all this extra work, spending hours every week at no extra cost!

I’ll be honest, I loved being my client’s go to guy. I still do.

But I love being a freelancer more.

I now offer a blog content planning and blog editing service. Since neither of these services cost much, most of my clients choose to take them as well.

Not only is this good for my business but my clients are better off too. I no longer rush through these tasks but set time aside especially for them. More research goes into my creating a content plan and my edits now have detailed comments and suggestions.

Do you charge for the extra work that you regularly do for your clients?

Posted in General