Written by: Natalia M. Sylvester
We’re always hearing that freelancing is hard work. It’s hard to create a name for yourself when you’re just starting out. It takes a lot of work to keep a steady amount of assignments. It’s not always easy to find clients who will understand what a great writer is worth.
But there’s one very important part of it that shouldn’t be hard: knowing when a client is right for you.
When I think of my favorite clients, they all share one thing in common. Landing them was actually pretty easy. And I don’t mean that in an arrogant way, or even a lazy way. Yes, I marketed my butt off to catch their attention. Yes, I made sure to sell myself, as best I could, when they considered me for their project. But never, throughout the entire process, did they make me feel uneasy.
We need to give ourselves permission to embrace easy. It shouldn’t be difficult to know when you and a client are a good match. We shouldn’t be filled with doubt, or be unsure about whether we trust them. We need to think of it like dating: Mr. or Mrs. Right would never make you feel wrong.
The problem with embracing easy is that, well, it’s hard. It really comes down to trusting our instincts, and instincts—being the sneaky little inklings that they are—never let us know the reasoning behind what they’re suggesting.
The reasoning is only revealed to us later. Like when a client isn’t communicating enough, but still expects your copy to be spot-on. Or when, three months after invoicing, the check has yet to arrive.
Having been through this far too many times, I came up with a list of questions that I always have at the back of my mind when talking to prospective clients. Here’s a big surprise—they’re easy.
- Are you comfortable with the work and the direction the client wants to go in? Are you confident that it’ll result in work you’ll be proud of?
- Does the work excite you in some way or another? (Maybe the subject matter isn’t your favorite, but the format is something you’ve been meaning to break into, for example.)
- Do you see the fact that your brand will be associated with this client as a good thing?
- If they’re a new company, do they seem to have their business in order? (Or do they say things like, their target audience is everyone and that they’ll be making a billion dollars in profits by next year?)
- When you discuss their needs, does the client respect your point of view?
- When you quote them, do they try to talk down your prices?
And finally, the most important question of all, vague as it might be…
Do you and the client click?
What about you? In what other ways do you think the process could be made easier?