One of the perks of being a freelance writer is that you get to choose whom you want to work with.  But the question is how do you decide?

Most projects will involve the following sequential engagement with the client.
Most projects will involve the above sequential engagement with the client.

The second stage of messaging/ discussion is the crucial step in deciding whether the client and the project are worth pursuing. It is at this stage that you will be able to review the match between your skills and project requirement. It is also the stage where you negotiate on pricing, project milestones, payment release and project end dates.

Perhaps the client needs the work sooner than you had planned for; the work may involve more  hours of research than initially presumed or the client may pay marginally lower than you had bid for. These are all factors that you need to consider in the grand scheme of things such as your level of comfort in writing in the given niche, the long-term work potential and if the client is willing to give you credit for the work done.

But there is one factor that is non-negotiable and that is the respect the client is willing to give you as a freelance writer. In a remote work relationship this is difficult to decipher and perhaps the ‘remoteness’ allows certain clients to be nastier than they normally would be in a face-to-face business interaction.

CautionHere are five subtle aspects that can give you some foresight into a new work relationship:

  1. Project detailing: A client who has made the effort to detail the project requirement is someone who knows want he/ she wants, has thought things through and will therefore seek minimal last-minute changes
  2. Tone of communications:  I have received first time messages from potential clients without as much as a ‘hello’, ‘hey’ or even my name being addressed at the start of the email. While I am willing to take the communication past the terse email, it does set some alarm bells ringing – just who the hell does this person think they are
  3. Client flexibility: Most clients respect that you are not just waiting around for them to give you work. They are willing to extend deadlines if need be. They will also allow a freehand in the way you want to execute the project as long as the basic guidelines are followed.
  4. Client honesty: Clients that offer a paid sample assignment with long-term potential are any day better than clients that want you to quote the ‘best rates’ (read lowest) at the start of the project because they dangle the carrot of bulk assignments, which in the end may not come to fruition.
  5. Client reputation:  Job portals such as Elance, give you the advantage of assessing a client’s  online reputation. View the number of assignments offered, if the client has left reviews for past contractors, what is the general tone of reviews and client feedback left by some of the other contractors. I have on occasion decided to not pursue a project basis this information.

Freelance writing is a two-way street.Your ability to successfully execute a project depends on client’s own clarity of thought and his/ her respect of the skills you bring to the job on hand.  Keep the above warning signals in mind before taking on your next assignment.

Fellow freelancers, would love to hear from you on other ‘tread with caution’ signs in dealing with new clients.  Please do share in the comments box below. 🙂