Thursday, June 12, 2008

Tough Decisions in Freelance Writing

I've had a few tough decisions to make in my freelance writing career lately. One of them was to threaten a client who hadn't paid a pile of invoices (some were from March). That was rough. I have an almost two year relationship with them but enough was enough. I had to make the move to protect myself and my team. It's still being resolved but my actions probably worked and I'm looking forward to closing this stressful chapter in my life and writing career.

Today I had to make another tough decision that some might have made differently but I'm feeling like I made the right choice and demonstrated a high level of integrity. It's nice that I have clients that place their trust in me. I have many clients who have given me as much inside knowledge as they'd give their own staff. Many consider me a virtual employee despite my freelance status. I take that trust very seriously.

One SEO company that I work for who is my third largest client provides services to many clients and uses me for all the article writing. This isn't my best paying client. Actually the rate I'm making now on new business is about double but this client has volume, they have a solid reputation with paying me on time and make a great fit for me. Last week one of their clients contacted me directly.

Their client found out I was their writer and liked my work so thought to call me direct in order to buy more content. I don't have a non-compete contract with my client but I do have respect for my relationship with my client. I told the end user that I needed permission from my client to do business direct.

The end user said they appreciated my integrity and would wait. It took my client almost a week to give me a call so we could talk about it. They gave me the direction that could make my own decisions about it but explained that this continues to be an existing client of theirs. My immediate reaction without hesitation was to e-mail the inquiring end user and direct them to their rep at the company to order more services and to tell him that I would only perform services for them that they couldn't receive through my client, the SEO company. I did this despite the fact that my going rate is twice the rate I'm paid for the SEO company and the end user already agreed to those prices.

The end user isn't happy because he knows he'll pay a big markup by dealing with them and will get the same services through me for less. So, he'd pay less, I'd earn more but if I did go through with it, it could've seriously impacted my reputation and status as a valued team member. He'll probably find himself another freelance writer to deal with instead of contacting my client for more work as pricing seems to be an issue.

I have no remorse about my decision and despite the lean times at the moment don't regret that I won't make that extra money because long term this will probably pay me back multi-fold. Do you think I did the right thing?


Bruno LoGreco said...

Do you feel like you made the best choice for yourself?
Integrity goes a long way in my books.

Dana Prince said...

Hi Bruno :)
Thanks for stopping in.

Yes, I do.
I was almost tempted to tell the client that I could make double the rate they pay me by going direct just so they knew my sacrifice but I decided that part didn't matter so left it out. I do feel good about it. Even if it doesn't bring me anything in return, I know that I did the right thing.
I have writers that do overflow work and regular gigs for me. If my clients approached them, I would hope they show me the same respect.

Leigh Ann, MyFamilyDoctor Mag said...

Hi! First read, first comment.

It sounds to me like you did the right thing--difficult but right. I'm glad you feel content with your decision.

I'm not sure what I think about mentioning to the SEO company that you could make twice the rate on your own. I see your point and can understand why you wouldn't. But then again, I wonder if it might be OK, as long as you said it in a nonconfrontational way, like, "I love working for you guys; the only reason I'm having this dilemma--and even asking about it--is ...." Maybe it would put in their head that they're getting a bargain and maybe should raise your rate.

But maybe it would put in their head that you're discontent, too. Hmmm ...

Well, you know the company, and you know how they'd react, so I'm sure you did right in this situation. Good for you.

Leigh Ann Hubbard
Managing Editor
James Hubbard's My Family Doctor

Dana Prince said...

Leigh Ann. I did ponder that one.

I've been pondering raising the rate, as I've done business with them at the same rate for a year so that definitely did cross my mind. The company just got sold to new owners that don't know me incredibly well yet so timing wasn't actually in my favor.

Thanks for the visit and comment :)


Andrea said...

I don't take on the big SEO clients like you do. Sometimes I can barely keep up with the little guys I take on (no problem this week it seems but you know how that feast and famine thing goes). Decisions like this and the fact that you really struggle and try to always do the right thing are things I really respect about you. WTG (as my teen would text).

Dana Prince said...

Thanks, Andrea :)

Lillie Ammann said...

I agree that you made the right decision. Your integrity and reputation are more important than the money you could have made in this one instance.

Dana Prince said...

Thanks, Lillie. Like I said to a friend today, Matthew 7:12 :)