Dear potential clients: I don't want to collaborate.

Dear potential clients: I don’t want to collaborate

Ooh, get me, sounding all salty and putting off potential clients. 

You may be wondering what’s crawled up my backside this time—Christ, how long have you got? 

Metaphorically speaking, obvs. 

Hear me out.

You might not agree with what I have to say (I can live with that) but before you throw the freelancer’s code of conduct at me, read this instalment of Who’s Pissed On Her Cornflakes Now?

I know a few business writers.

I like ’em.

And a couple of them are, in my opinion, exceptional but some do make me worry. 

Why do I worry, I hear you ask?

Well, I sometimes wonder how the hell they cope with the crippling anxiety they seem to experience every time they deal with a client.

One business writer, in particular, made me really worry recently.

They were shitting a brick waiting for client feedback. They were expecting a motherlode of rewrites, all via video call. Yikes!

Normal phone calls are so 00s, aren’t they? And sending revisions by email sounds positively archaic.

I know that this may seem pretty standard for writers (I mean, yeah, for some) but this way of working made me think about the power dynamic between freelancer and client and it reminded me of a similar dynamic: employee and employer.

Don’t get me wrong.

I’m always a little nervy when a client reads my efforts for the first time.

Anyone who gives a shit about providing quality work feels that twinge because you want them to love it. You want it to be exactly what they expected, actually, to exceed expectations—you absolutely do not want them to say “Sarah, this is fucking terrible”.

But this writer didn’t sound like the mistress of her own destiny and what really struck fear into my black heart was the word, ‘collaboration’. 

This freelancing copywriter viewed her work as something that she and her client would produce together

That sounds nice, doesn’t it?

That sounds just like the sort of cosy, matey approach we all seem to be striving for. It sounds super friendly and fluffy… It smells like social selling! (Social smelling?)

This individual was keen to develop that kind of BF client-contractor culture. The last thing she wanted to do was be viewed as “off-putting”. Oh, babes.

Do you know what the word ‘collaboration’ says to me?

In this context at least, it says that this creative thinks her clients have the same level of knowledge and expertise as she does. It implies they’re just as qualified as her to pass judgment on content, sales copy, and anything else this writer provides.

If that’s true, why would they hire her to do the job? They could save some cash and do it themselves.

Lemme backtrack a little.

My initial client email through to briefing is a collaboration of sorts.

We’re working together to get the best outcome. But then I crack on with the business of writing business-based content.

That client will get one shot on the first draft to let me know what I’ve missed out. They’re welcome to tell me that something needs a little tweak, and off I go, gladly tweaking. I make those revisions then it’s off to the proofreader, voila! Finished, brilliant content.

But at no point will I take writing advice from a client. They either trust me or they don’t.

Thankfully that kind of bollocks only happened once. The copy in question became so generic and clichéd that I finally had to wash my hands of it. (Sometimes a cliché is acceptable, like just then. “Wash my hands” is probably more of an idiom. Never mind.)

I’m never going to anxiously wait for a client video call.

The potential clients I attract always know what they’re getting when they choose to work with me so they’re never surprised by what I produce.

I deal with one point of contact and that same person has done a jolly good job at providing all the right information at the briefing stage.

Incidentally, If you find yourself in the position of never-ending revisions, not only is your briefing stage bad but so is your client qualification process. You likely aren’t clear on the kind of person you want to work with (which should be as familiar to you as your own arse crack).

I don’t give a ram’s testicle what industry my clients are in.

I only care about personality type.

Let’s pretend you want to attract no-nonsense, professional (decent) people who take your time and specialism seriously. How do you think you could achieve that?

By being that person in your own business. 

You’ll be less likely to attract the kind of idiots who want to waste your time (or treat you like shit).

You’ve heard it a million times before you get treated how you allow yourself to be treated.

And you better believe it. 

If you’re uncertain about your abilities, if you don’t have any Ts and Cs, and if you’re afraid to set boundaries, you will get the shoddiest of clients.

My clients pay my rates and accept my terms and creative process. If a few potential clients find all that too much to bear, we don’t work together. It really is that simple.

Know the clients you DON’T want to work with. 

I hope your content, pricing, and process are repelling those you can’t stand.

You see, being off-putting to some people is just as important as attracting the right people. And actually, you’ll never find the perfect clients without doing that.

If you’re placing the demands of your prospects before your own, stop it. It’s servile and not befitting a business owner.

Are you a no-nonsense business type? Do you need some brilliant content/copy? Do you accept that my service comes at a premium? Do you value a direct and transparent approach? Well, DO YOU?

Ok, then you need to visit this page now.

Freelance SEO writer

Sarah Wilson-Blackwell

I’m a freelance business content writer at The Sarky Type®. My thang is SEO-informed blurb that sets your words on fire (ablaze with LOLs and engagement not to be confused with real fire that destroys everything in sight. Metaphors are better when they don’t require explanation. Note to self).

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