Writers: how do you educate clients who don't value your work?
October 14, 2011 10:18 AM Subscribe
Copywriters and other creatives: how do you protect yourself when dealing with clients who suck up time with extensive revisions, general indecisiveness, or just plain bad judgment? My larger projects can handle some ballooning of time in one direction or another, and for my big national clients there is always client awareness of my expertise and what it's worth. My problem is with taking on smaller clients who seem great at first, but then balk at suggestions, revise good writing into terrible, etc...
posted by mdiskin to Work & Money (22 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a freelancer with some lovely first-tier clients. I do excellent work. I have good client skills, and I work hard at really listening to the client. I get loads of repeat business and referrals, and my clients vary from major fashion houses to technology and manufacturing.
For recent smaller clients (local/small biz), I have a sit-down or phone call where we both lay out expectations, I send over an SOW/contract (sometimes with examples of typical deliverables for that type of project), get a formal acceptance of same, and then we go through the writing-revision cycle. When I hand off work, I preface it with an "as we discussed" paragraph so that clients see the work in context of previous conversations and find it easier to see how the work has developed off those conversations
I find that small-business clients are more likely to
- change good solid writing into bad
- rewrite elegant taglines that fit their business into clunkers that make people say "wait...what?"
- spend huge amounts of time on one aspect of the project and then once invoiced say "oh we never looked at X because we didn't have time, so will revisions to X be an additional charge"?
I am willing to be edited, and to work with clients to make them happy, but I'm wondering if I need to give these smaller clients a REALLY detailed SOW stating what our working relationship should be. This seems silly to do on projects lasting <10 hrs, but not if they turn into double that. And now I have to tell one client that light edits, but not wholesale revisions, would be covered under contract (even though I probably should charge extra), and wondering how to do it kindly.
What could I be missing? Do I need to append a short statement of what is NOT covered, with examples, sort of an anti SOW? Is this a recession-economy backlash against spending money, in the sense that everyone thinks he or she can write/design, etc? How do you notify clients of approaching time limits in a way that is not burdensome (especially on small projects)? I wonder also if there is another type of question to ask clients, sort of a "what are you not telling me" or "what do you see here that you think does NOT fit your plan" that I could ask early on to avoid big problems without coming across as negative toward my own work.