If you are a self-professed people pleaser, as well as a freelance writer, you may have learned the hard way that those two things don’t mix well. When you are working one-on-one with potentially difficult clients, you might find yourself becoming more and more of a people pleaser. That is a very damaging habit for a writer to have because, unfortunately, many people (clients) will see that, and take advantage of it – if you allow them to.
I’ve learned five things that every freelance writer can do to keep difficult clients from taking up all your time and energy.
Five Ways to Stop People Pleasing as a Freelance Writer
1. Set Boundaries from the Start
This might seem like a difficult step to take, especially in the beginning of starting up an agreement with a new client. The beginning phases of winning a new client can be a rocky time and you might be afraid to lay down the law before you ever have an agreement. But, this is the best time to put your foot down, and make your boundaries as a freelancer clear to your client. This adds a level of professionalism to your negotiation as well. If they are difficult, and don’t want to oblige, then good riddance to them. You’ve better off in the end not having clients like that. If they agree with your boundaries, then you will avoid conflicts that could come up later.
2. Know What Your Work is Worth
So many freelance writers spend half of their career undervaluing their worth, and the quality of the work they offer. If you don’t advertise yourself as a high-quality writer that deserves to be paid a competitive rate, then you are giving your clients permission to undervalue you. If you aren’t set on the amounts that you charge, and sure of your writing’s value, then your clients will usually push back, and try to get you to lower your prices. Price yourself and your work according to your worth and you will begin to attract clients that appreciate that, and are happy to pay fair rates for your work.
3. Don’t Make Sacrifices Just to Please a Client
As a people pleaser, your core belief is that you must make people happy. That’s not healthy for personal relationships, and most certainly not healthy for client relationships. Don’t start to give in to a demanding client, or start to do things that weren’t agreed to just to make them happy. Difficult clients will never be happy and, the more you allow them to push you, the further they will push. Don’t allow yourself to be victimized in this manner.
4. Know the Signs of a Manipulative Client
One very good skill to acquire when working as a freelance writer is being able to spot a manipulative client. This is most likely a skill that will come with experience so, when you feel as though a potential client is already trying to get things without paying for them, drop everything and run. Manipulative clients will not respect your boundaries, and will always want more while giving less – so head for the hills when you spot them!
5. End the Contract When Necessary
If you are already working for a client who has begun to take advantage of your people pleasing habits, you may need to just end the contract. Once a difficult or manipulative client has seen you give into unrealistic demands, it is hard to convince them that it won’t be happening anymore. Sometimes, the best thing to do is politely let them know that you are moving on, and need to cancel the contract. Then, use that experience as a lesson for the future. Sometimes when this happens, a client will contact you later, begging you to work with them again. If you consider that, lay down firm ground rules before proceeding with them again. Let them know, in no uncertain terms, the nature of the relationship you will have from then on, and what you will and will not accept. Also, you should tell them in writing that you will not offer any refunds on any payments received if the relationship sours again.
Ending your people pleasing ways as a freelance writer can be hard and you will most likely anger and lose some clients. You deserve to have clients that appreciate you, and what you do, and who don’t feel the need to constantly try to get more from you for less, or push you around. If you want to be a successful freelance writer with an amazing selection of clients who appreciate your work, then you have to stop trying to please your clients at your own expense.
WRITERS: Are Your Clients Paying What You DESERVE…or Just What You’ll Accept? – By Jennifer Brown Banks
Would YOU Write for a Convicted Killer? 5 Types of Clients…and Which Ones to AVOID! by Rich Mintzer, Ghostwriter
When Charging a Pain in the (Bleep) Client More Money…is More Than Justified
Are You UNDERcharging Your Clients to be “Nice?” Don’t Sell Yourself Short! by Angela Hoy
From “Free Samples” to Demanding 24/7 Availability – 5 New-Client Red Flags to That Say “GET OUT NOW!”- by Charlotte Grainger
Abigail Jane is a freelance writer who specializes in natural health and lifestyle writing but who always jumps at the opportunity to help other freelancers achieve success.
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Many clients are happy to treat you as poorly as you are willing to let yourself be treated. Good clients want to treat you well and fairly, because they understand it’s in their best interest to have a good relationship.
Setting boundaries doesn’t need to be harsh or unpleasant. You don’t really have to “lay down the law.” You just need to calmly explain the scope of the services they are buying, and educate them with your actions.
Don’t succumb to the client’s pressure, and rush ahead in a panic without having everything clearly delineated, just because they seem in a panic.
If clients treat you poorly or are unreasonable at the beginning of the relationship, it’s unlikely they will ever improve. Thinking you can “fix” a bad client is like trying to “fix” a bad romantic partner: you’re just setting yourself up for a lot of grief.
I must say, this is not the first article on this subject that I have seen featured in Writers Weekly. I am guessing that this is a wider issue then I have been aware of.
All very good advice that you have given and – yes – I have been hit with the occasional pushy client too, so I know the feeling.
I will only say, set those ‘ground rules’ with a gentle tone of voice. Otherwise, you are going to come off as being a bit of a tyrant, someone not worth working with.
Often a new client asks a lot of questions – some may sound silly. Go with the flow here. If I’m hit over the head with ‘ground rules’ during my first couple of sentences, the first thing I immediately think is ‘amateur’ and quickly back away.
A professional knows to ease into those ‘ground rules’ slowly, near the end of the Q&A with the (potential) client.
If at that point you see red flags popping out at you, you’re right — run!