When you start freelancing, you will be grateful and keen for every job that you win. You may even go through a period where you are bidding on every single writing job that you can and you are offering all sorts of promises that you believe you can fulfill. Be aware that in your quest to always have a steady flow of work, you don’t ever want to turn work down.
It starts like this
For weeks you have been bidding diligently, had some good chats, but no one has awarded you anything. Until one day, it starts. You start getting jobs, your reputation and reviews are looking good. You are working with a couple of employers that give you small projects to turn around easily and they are very cheap jobs, but you’re happy that you are learning the ropes and getting a good reputation.
And then it happens … You have 1 or 2 projects with coming deadlines in a few days and you start hunting around for some new projects to bid on. One of the projects is for Employer A which is worth a lot of money. You are looking forward to receiving great feedback for the hard work you’ve done. You have been communicating with them the whole time and you don’t see any problems.
You start to bid and chat with new employers and at the time, you genuinely believe that if you are awarded the 5 x 500-word articles for Employer X, you will be able to turn it around within 1-2 days, no worries. They like you and you are the winning bidder. At the same time as you were awarded the Employer X project, you had also been chatting with Employer Z who also awards you a project for a small job.
Instead of releasing the milestone without a fuss, Employer A returns the work saying it requires some revisions. It is a very lucrative job, and you need to satisfy the client in order to get your final payment. If you do the changes it will mean your current deadline with Employer X may have to be pushed back, but you can’t disappoint Employer A.
So what do you do? Whatever you do, never make up silly excuses such as ‘my mother is sick and needs my help’, or, ‘my laptop is getting repaired’. There will be times when both of these things may be true, but when you lie, people sense it and will not offer you repeat work. You will be seen as unreliable and it may affect your review quality.
Professional ethics and integrity are vital
Just because we are not being employed in the traditional sense and can work in our pyjamas if we want to does not mean we are sloppy in our attention to detail and we should always conduct ourselves in a professional manner.
As freelancers, we offer an important service and people depend on us turning work in on time. As you become more familiar with your own skills, you will use strategies to manage the expectations of your employers. When there are genuine reasons why you can't finish jobs on time, make sure you communicate with your employer immediately. It might be tempting to rush the job just to make the deadline, but if this results in poor work, no one will be happy. However, you must do your utmost to get it in whatever it takes. I know I have worked through the night (on top of my day job) on occasion to ensure that the work was completed as promised.
At other times, I’ve simply asked the client if the work was urgent and if not, asked their consent to push the deadlines back. Not every job is as urgent as any other, and it is important to give yourself the respect to ask for more time if you need it.
Employers value freelancers who provide regular updates, and even partly finished products. This accountability demonstrates a professional work ethic which is likely to be favoured by repeat business. This will allow you to build a more stable business by having great relationships with employers who trust that you will go the extra mile for urgent deadlines, and therefore offer flexibility when you may need it. Over time, developing a great relationship with employers is what will give you more repeat work, more stable and predictable work, and it will be more enjoyable for both of you.
Open communication is different from making excuses. Everyone has their own deadlines that someone else is waiting on. Before bidding on jobs just to get a new job, ask yourself if you really have the time in the next few weeks in your schedule. Be upfront with employers if you want their jobs but have competing deadlines, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how often employers are willing to negotiate much more generous timeframes if they trust you.
Your professionalism and transparency will give you respect and repeat clients. I assure you.