A few months ago I asked on Twitter and LinkedIn what my friends would like to read about on the Web Writing Advice blog. One person said, “How can I tell if a freelance client will pay well?” Ohh, this is an excellent question, and there’s actually quite a bit to unpack here. So, here are my thoughts.
When I’m looking at freelance writing job posts, or preparing to reply to an email from a potential client, I channel my inner journalist.
The quick answer to this reader’s question is to ask lots of questions! Be an informed freelancer.
Initial Communication Matters
When I first start chatting with a managing editor or the person who might hire me, I ask how they collaborate with freelancers. Here are a few questions I that come up, and their answers help me understand more about them and their preparedness to work with a freelancer.
- Do you have an onboarding process?
- How do your freelancers submit/edit content?
- Do you have a sample assignment brief I may review?
- May I review your editorial calendar and writing guidelines?
- How often does your accounting department process freelancer invoices?
First off, if any of these questions are met with hesitation and an I don’t know answer, they aren’t very well organized. This also probably means they aren’t sure of their budget and rates. When a client doesn’t have a firm handle on their needs, they likely aren’t offering the best rates.
The Upfront Freelance Client
On the opposite end of the spectrum, I’ve had potential clients reach out to me with an assignment summary, SEO keywords they’d like woven into the article, a word count range for the project, a list of potential resources and their rate for the piece.
I love these interactions because I can quickly see if the project, and payment, align with my schedule and monetary goals. I wish more freelance project job ads were this clear, focused and upfront.
Let’s be frank here: We may love what we do, but we are also paying bills. Freelancers need to know payment rates upfront…