Do your clients really want you to succeed as a freelancer?

succeed as a freelancerWhat does your ideal freelance client look like? Great (and fast) payer…high-profile (and rewarding) projects…lots of positive feedback…sends plenty of referrals…prompt, responsive, and easy to work with? I agree. Over the course of 18 years of running my own business, though, I’ve found it comes down to this: Do your clients want you to succeed as a freelancer? And do you want them to succeed, too?

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18 years of freelancing, 18 business lessons

business lessons on the 18th birthday of freelancingI used to know the exact date I walked out of the corporate world with The Box and started my freelance business. Today, I only remember that it was in August 1999. Yep, as of this birthday my business is old enough to vote, buy a lottery ticket, join the army, or drink in Canada and much of Europe. Here, in no particular order, are 18 business lessons from 18 years in business: [Read more…]

Stop wasting time on the cutting room floor

cutting room floorSelf-inflicted scope creep often results from perfectionism gone awry. Sometimes, however, it’s caused by the slightly more-noble impulse to convert all of our hard-earned research and interviews into usable text. When I catch myself wasting time that way, I remind myself that readers or freelance clients see the final product. I’m the only one who knows what lands on the cutting room floor. [Read more…]

Vague writing feedback revisited

writing feedbackLast week, I wrote about the challenges of managing vague creative feedback, and provided a couple of thoughts on how to bring such situations to resolution. The good news? That post was based on writing feedback on a real-life freelance project, and the next step went smoothly. Woohoo!

How did I move the client from uncertainty to approval? Pretty simple, really. But you need a little more backstory than I provided last time. [Read more…]

The worst kind of creative feedback and what you can do about it

creative feedbackYou’re not going to last long in the creative world if you can’t give and accept criticism gracefully—or at least without sparking conflict. That’s not guaranteed, however, when you’re working with clients outside our field. It can be a struggle for them to convey creative feedback about projects in an actionable fashion, simply because it’s a skill they’ve rarely or never had to use. That results in profoundly unhelpful comments such as “Just let your creative juices flow,” “It’s missing something, but I’m not sure what,” “You’re the (writer/editor/designer),” and the worst offender of all, “I’ll know it when I see it.” [Read more…]

Do luck and superstition affect your freelance business?

luck superstition businessI’d originally planned to post on this topic for Halloween, but the World Series dovetailed into my thoughts about the role of luck and superstition in freelance business success, so here I am. I’ll confess, I was chronically superstitious as a kid, due to growing up as a Boston Red Sox fan back in the days when their pattern was to get to big games…only to lose in spectacular and heart-breaking fashion. I had lucky (and jinxed) shirts and hats. If a traffic light turned green before I got to it or if my favorite song came on the radio, that was an auspicious sign. I stuffed a four-leaf clover in the middle finger of my baseball glove. Alas, none of my efforts altered the fact the Sox were quite simply and thoroughly cursed. [Read more…]