No matter how you find your freelance writing clients, there’s a good chance that at some point in time you will encounter somebody who has had a bad experience with a contractor in the past.
Although this is certainly not your fault, it can color your interactions with this new client if you are not careful to learn more about them and their unique needs.
Thankfully, it need not be a situation where you give up entirely. However, you want to get in there pretty quickly to diagnose what went wrong so you can either help the client, or avoid someone who is the wrong fit for you.
Identify Pain Points ASAP to Direct the Conversation
You need to recognize their emotional pain points and what you can do in order to help combat this. Some of the most important steps you can take are at the outset of your relationship with this potential client.
First of all, give them a chance to air their concerns. Before they hire another person whom they have probably never met before, they want to be reassured that you will take the job seriously.
Ask Questions to Learn More About Why the Relationship Failed
Ask the painful questions about why they had a problem with the previous freelancer. It’s important to understand this not just so that you understand what the client is currently going through, but also so that you can get a sense as to whether or not the client was the reason the relationship fell apart.
For example, I tend to stay away from clients who have hired and fired multiple other freelance writers. Although there is a very slim chance that it could have been the writer’s fault to have been removed from the contract, I often find that this is usually an indicator of a client who simply cannot be pleased.
So my efforts to find out more about why the relationship with past freelancers disintegrated informs me more about that individual client and his or her approach to the job.
A Simple Question to Ask a Frustrated Client to Give You Workable Information
“Can you give me a specific example of why you were unhappy with the last freelance writer?”
The reason this question is so important is that it forces the prospect to clarify and explain why they were unhappy. You don’t let them off the hook with a general answer like, “They just didn’t do a good job.” Again, you force them go get specific.
When they breakdown and give you more details about why a previous relationship didn’t work out, you’re going to receive beneficial clues that can help you determine how to work with this client more effectively.
For example, your client may share information that a previous client didn’t submit core-quality work, or may have even submitted duplicate work.
This is your opportunity to position yourself as a unique freelancer because you may guarantee originality in your pieces, or may even offer revisions so that client has the opportunity to give feedback.
Not every client who has hired and fired another freelance writer is necessarily a disaster, but asking some variation of the critical question, “Why didn’t the relationship with the last freelancer work out?” at the outset of the relationship gives you the chance to reposition yourself and clear up any miscommunication.
It’s also your last possible chance to get out of the contract if it’s clear that the client is a nightmare.
If they respond with anger and frustration, and speak extremely negatively of any freelancer they’ve worked with in the past, you can count on yourself being the next person to be featured in a diatribe like that.
It might be better for you to walk away from the contract in this position. When you have had the opportunity to hear out the client’s concerns, this is your chance to respond and talk about how they could have a better experience working with you.
Reposition Yourself as an Expert Who Has Heard Their Needs & Concerns
Highlighting yourself as an expert and addressing each of their individual concerns shows that you have taken the time to carefully listen and to develop a strategy that is in line with their most immediate needs.
You may even choose to apologize on behalf of the other freelancer or freelancers who have worked on the project and reassure the client that not everyone takes that same approach. All of these steps can be helpful for giving you a roadmap to move forward positively with a new client.
Next Time: In my next post, I’ll be talking about key signs to recognize when you need to let a client go – even if they don’t want to end things.
Author Bio: Laura is a former inner city teacher and corporate employee who fled the grind in 2012 to work at home. She specializes in SEO content for law firms and insurance agencies, writing everything from ebooks to blogs to video scripts. She is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, and blogs at SixFigureWritingSecrets.com.