Wednesday, December 26, 2007

When You Outgrow a Writing Client…

What do you do in your writing career when a client’s work no longer suits you? I’m not talking about clients that you no longer want to deal with, rather clients whose needs and wants don’t exactly fit with your own specific writing aspirations and goals. It might happen because you no longer want to write on a subject (or become burnt out on it) or because the client is not able to pay rates that fit with your own desires. Some clients pay a flat fee for work and never plan to give you a raise and you can’t grow your career if your rates do not grow.

If your client grows with you, it’s wonderful but if you outgrow them because you want to earn more, do more challenging work or just want to flex your creative muscles it might be time to move on or figure out a way to make the situation work for you.

When I started out I was making roughly .01/word for everything I did and I wrote a lot of the same articles, blog posts and types of documents. It didn’t take long before I decided I wanted to take my career in a specific direction and earn more money. There comes a time with most writers who don’t want to stay complacent that they need to figure out how to grow their career. What do you do with your existing workload?

Here are a few things you can do:

-Refer them to a friend. Tell the client you’ve been offered a full time gig, have changed focus, etc but can recommend someone who might be the perfect fit. This works well if you’re mentoring a junior writer or know someone who writes in that particular niche area and you can match a friend up with a client. They might both be very grateful.

-Refer them to a place where they can advertise. One of my favourite clients came to me via the WAHM Moms Who Write forum where his regular writer referred him to the site to find a new writer when she needed to lessen her client load. I felt safer dealing with him because someone I sort of ‘knew’ who recommended him and he had the choice of several applicants from the forum.

-Outsource. This is what I do most provided the client is good to work with. I was working for an agency and was nearing the point of outgrowing them because despite being a great client, they were suddenly my lowest paying client. I was ready to send an email suggesting a minimum assignment $$ value. Instead, timing worked in my favour as my team leader left her role so recommended me for a team leader role with the owner who had already had me work directly for her previous to my joining a team. At around the same time, a client I was working with got really really busy and considered hiring a second writer. I decided to move forward with a team. My busy client didn’t have to hire a second writer and the agency had a new team to give work out to.

I not only had a new volume of work with more choices that I could either keep or sub to my team but this allowed me to take on more work from other clients to give to team members. I match work up with people’s niche or people’s availability and I keep a small % for my trouble. For that fee I collect the invoice money, mentor the writer and do proofing and editing as well as coordinate large projects. It’s a win/win for me and my clients who know who they are dealing with and know I’ll deliver the work to them the way they like. If I don’t know a subject matter or choose not to write in a particular area, I have a database of desired project types, niches and experience levels to draw from with my 8-10 regular team members. I also get to help other writers get more work and experience and I also can expand my creativity by picking and choosing my own projects. I’m also making some great friends as part of the package.

This venture has had its share of challenges as well which I’ll save for another blog post but all in all has become a really symbiotic thing for me.

Don’t feel trapped if you’re outgrowing a regular gig, use some creative thinking and networking to help you use it to your advantage or help part on great terms.


Sharon Hurley Hall said...

Sounds like you had exactly the same experience that I did, Dana, and working with a team is a creative solution. I'm glad it's working well for you.

Brenda Emmett said...

Great post Dana! Thanks for all that you do! :)

Sharon Hurley Hall said...

You have been given a ROAR Award. Enjoy - and pass it on! :)