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shwetags12
Community Member

How to manage client expectation in writing

Hi guys, I am a part-time freelance writer on Upwork. I write web content for IT companies, individuals, and small businesses. Primarily, I write blogs and web copy. You can see my feedback - it's a series of 5-star or 4.5 star feedbacks. But recently I had a series of bad experiences which is making me question everything - my writing skills, my freelancing skills and my choice to work on Upwork. 

 

I don't want to waste your time so briefly highlighting the experiences I had - all in the last 2 weeks - 

 

Client 1 - hourly job - told me to ghostwrite a trial blog for her - only gave the general topic - no information at all on the direction the article should take etc. I wrote the article (1 hour billed) - I also told her I would need some examples from her to make the article better as if it is written by her.

She responded very positively, sent me some general information and disappeared for a week. I contacted her and requested clarification. Came back, said article reflects no inside knowledge of my business, closed contract and gave me 3 for quality and 3 for skills and 4 for co-operation!!!

 

Client 2- gave me a fixed price contract for entire website. - I set all the milestones. Wanted 1 100 word para and 10 bullet points for 56 web pages. I agreed at $5 a page. After I wrote 7 pages, changed scope to 2 paras and 20 bullet points - refused to increase price. I still persisted and rewrote said 7 pages. After reading them, kept asking for more content and rework on 3 pages.

 

I ended the contract and gave full refund for this milestone as I knew if I didn't it would end up in dispute. Client gave no return feedback.

 

After Client 1 and 2, I decided I would proceed more cautiously and do small trials before accepting a contract. Unpaid trials are better than future negative feedback for paid trials.

 

For Client 3 (hourly job)- He wanted 1 webpage written. I wrote free sample while submitting proposal - He liked it and gave me job. After initial discussion with him, as per his instructions, I just wrote few points explaining direction the content would take and wrote 3-4 small sections for him. Logged in 30 minutes. At night, (we are in the same timezone) he messaged me that every sentence was a mistake and ended the contract with a 2 star feedback. Now I have a 2 star feedback for $8 work done in my work history.

 

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Based on my experiences above I need advice on:

 

- How to set client expectations around the writing process

- How to set client expectations on writing scope for web copy

- How to screen and avoid clients who will treat me disrespectfully.

- Is this happening because I am doing something that is attracting bad clients.

- In writing, most of the jobs are short term. It is quite hard to get any long term jobs. Even top writers have 300 jobs in progress at one time. I am happy to do small jobs for many clients. But it feels like I am being penalized by Upwork for this...because naturally the more clients I work with the greater the chance of meeting a bad one.

 

I feel that once a contract has started the onus is completely on the freelancer - as everything depends on client feedback and clients get away with all kinds of behavior. The freelancer is penalized for all negative feedback and no feedback if clients start acting up during the project. This makes me feel very insecure and afraid to sign up or bid for any other contract.

 

I am open to all feedback and advice. But no harsh criticism please ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

17 REPLIES 17
tlsanders
Community Member

I think that part of your problem may be the low rates you offer. I know it seems counter-intuitive, but it seems (as a general rule) that the less a client pays, the more he or she demands and the more likely the client is to try to squeeze out more without paying for it. These clients are also often low-quality themselves, and so unable to provide clear guidance, or are intermediaries bidding on jobs and then hiring someone else to fulfill the job at a lower rate.

 

When you charge more, you will typically be hired by clients who respect your expertise and understand the value of your services, and will treat you more like a professional.

 

I think you will also find that at higher rates/with a better class of clients, it is not at all hard to build ongoing relationships. 80% of more of my writing work on Upwork is repeat or ongoing business.

tlbp
Community Member

I don't agree with a few of your assumptions. 46% of my clients are repeat business. These clients make up the bulk of my earnings. Evaluate the past hiring and review history of your clients before agreeing to work for them. Also, if your product is premium, charge a premium price. 

 

I would suspect that you are not interviewing the client when they are interviewing you. The choice to work together must go both ways. Your $5 per page job was too low. The moment the client added to the scope you should state your new price and make it clear that you will walk away from the job if they aren't going to be reasonable. 

 

You have to be willing to say "no" and walk away (despite the possibility of a bad review). Otherwise, bad clients will take advantage.

allergywriter
Community Member

#1 Be picky about the jobs to which you apply

 

#2 Be picky about the clients with which you work - check their history

 

#3 Always always always specify the amount of changing/editing you include with your price

 

#4 If they want you to match a tone or voice they have already created, ask for multiple samples

 

#5 If you charge professional rates you will get professional clients.

 

#6 If the scope changes, then the cost changes. that's just the way it is. If you don't believe your work has value, why should clients?

 

TRUTH > Tanya wrote: "I would suspect that you are not interviewing the client when they are interviewing you. The choice to work together must go both ways.

 

While I agree with everything you've been told - that line stands out above the rest.

 

None of us are mind readers; client and provider candid and consistent communications are required.  

 


@Cheryl K wrote:

#1 Be picky about the jobs to which you apply

 

#2 Be picky about the clients with which you work - check their history

 

#3 Always always always specify the amount of changing/editing you include with your price

 

#4 If they want you to match a tone or voice they have already created, ask for multiple samples

 

#5 If you charge professional rates you will get professional clients.

 

#6 If the scope changes, then the cost changes. that's just the way it is. If you don't believe your work has value, why should clients?

 


For #5, does this still apply if you don't have a portfolio you are able to showcase? I've done a lot of writing for my company, but it's all protected under a very strict non-disclosure. I don't want to get passed over because I lack a share-able portfolio of writing work. 

tlbp
Community Member

You don't have to include only paid articles in your profile. Several of my first pieces were works that I chose to write and self-publish. Over time, I added work for clients into the mix. But much of my profile still contains my independent work. Clients want to see what you can do. If you can write, then show them by writing. Smiley Wink

 

It is time for you to adopt the mindset of a business owner. You are not an employee hoping to avoid being fired, you are not unemployed and desperate for work-- you are a small business owner with a unique and valuable service. Start selling it!


@Katherine Y wrote:

@Cheryl K wrote:

#1 Be picky about the jobs to which you apply

 

#2 Be picky about the clients with which you work - check their history

 

#3 Always always always specify the amount of changing/editing you include with your price

 

#4 If they want you to match a tone or voice they have already created, ask for multiple samples

 

#5 If you charge professional rates you will get professional clients.

 

#6 If the scope changes, then the cost changes. that's just the way it is. If you don't believe your work has value, why should clients?

 


For #5, does this still apply if you don't have a portfolio you are able to showcase? I've done a lot of writing for my company, but it's all protected under a very strict non-disclosure. I don't want to get passed over because I lack a share-able portfolio of writing work. 


 I've never had a portfolio on Upwork.

You don't need much on Upwork if you aren't a fraud trying to pretend to have a degree and experience in a field where you're trying to sell people who can see a fraud from a mile away. 

Katherine:

Hustle on over to Google and sign up for a free Google blogger account. Then blog (write) to your heart's content or until you build your porfolio.

Everything on your blog will have your name and will be an example of your writing skill. If you don't know what to blog about, pick a topic that interests you. If nothing interests you, write about green beans.

Then when you apply to jobs, you can provide a link to your blog. Just make sure your blog doesn't have any contact information on it or Upwork will frown.

lysis10
Community Member

lol another generalist writer trying to jump on my bandwagon. 

Shweta, you write websites and online articles, etc. for IT companies.  I write websites (not IT) and these are the bulk of the items in my U. portfolio.  All you need to do is ask client permission to showcase the site. I've never been told no.

Hi Wendy,

 

The portfolio question was posted by someone else on my thread. I have a very strong portfolio.

 

Thank you for your response.

Hi Jennifer,

 

Not sure if this response was meant for me or for Katherine. It is unhelpful and quite rude. I don't think anyone is trying to take anything that is yours.

It is unfortunate that such a top rated writer like you feels the need to make such below-the-belt statements. I have no idea why you think my profile or qualifications are fake, but I do not feel the need to justify anything to you.

tlsanders
Community Member


@Shweta S wrote:

 

- In writing, most of the jobs are short term. It is quite hard to get any long term jobs. Even top writers have 300 jobs in progress at one time.

 

I'm very curious about where you got this data. I'm not ruling out the possibility that some writer somewhere has 300 jobs in progress, though it doesn't make much sense, since no writer can actually be working on 300 jobs simultaneously (particularly since you specifically referenced small, one-off jobs versus ongoing contracts that might include periods of inactivity).

 

I've been making my living in whole or part as a writer for nearly 30 years, taught writing, run writers groups, etc., and I have never known a writer who had 100 jobs in progress at any given time, let alone 300. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Hi Tiffany,

 

If you look at some top earner writer profiles on Upwork and see their job history, you will find what I am saying is true.


@Shweta S wrote:

Hi Tiffany,

 

If you look at some top earner writer profiles on Upwork and see their job history, you will find what I am saying is true.


 Maybe you could be more specific about how you found them? 

 

I just searched for writers with earnings > $10k, 90%+ JSS and billing $60/hour or more. In the first couple of pages, I found 

 

Three writers with one open jobs

Three writers with three open jobs

Two writers with five open jobs

Two writers with nine open jobs

One writer each with zero, two, four, seven, 16, 21 and 42 open jobs

 

In case Upwork was prioritizing writers with more availability, I skipped in several pages and checked several profiles there. I found one writer with zero open jobs, one with two, two with four and one with 11. 

 

No matter how much I skipped around the list, I didn't find any count higher than the 42 (though I'm not ruling out the possibility that there are a few in the list somewhere)

 

Side note: Multiple participants in this thread showed up in the first few pages.