Tips For Working With Clients
Without clients, we couldn’t make a living as editors. Clients are everything. There are good clients and there are not so good clients, just as there are good editors and not so good editors. This issue will offer tips on working with clients in a professional way to ensure they return, and to protect yourself from the odd bad seed.
Follow up with your clients
Follow up with clients at the beginning, middle, and end of a project (or as the project plan schedule dictates). Good communication, even a simple check in, goes a long way. It is professional, courteous, and keeps everyone on the same page. Consider following up with past clients once a year. Check in with their lives, writing projects, and ask for feedback in a personal way. This keeps you in their mind for their next project or to refer other writers to you. It also establishes rapport.
Try not to make assumptions about the work you’re editing or your writer’s expectations. Clarify expectations and questions with your client. Your client is the decision maker. You are a consultant. If you are hired to be the decision maker for editorial changes to a work, consider consulting all parties on a few decisions if appropriate. Not only does this ensure client expectations are met, it includes the client in the process of the edit.
Hold at least one session that is one on one be it in person, video, or a phone call
I try to host a one-on-one session at the beginning of every project I work on. This allows me to go over the process, billing, expectation, and any initial questions I have. Such a session opens the floor to the client to raise questions as well. It goes a long way to avoiding miscommunication, ensuring you and your client are a fit for each other, and laying the foundation for the project and professional relationship. This personal touch makes you a more memorable editor to your clients as well.
Rapport is important to every successful business relationship. If you have rapport, you have a harmonious relationship where you and your client communicate more clearly and openly. Ways to establish rapport include following up, one-on-one sessions, positive feedback to and from the client, finding common ground, having a schedule for deadlines, summarizing your understanding of what was said by your client, and being honest and genuine.
Know your writers
Writers are diverse and you should become aware of their diverse needs for their projects. Some clients thrive on structure, others fly by the seat of their pants. Not only will you need to tailor your services for each individual project, but you should also fit your services as best as you can to your client’s expectations and style both on and off the page. Consider your client’s writing history, expectations, deadlines, goals, concerns, and their audience. Establishing rapport, clarifying details, one-on-one sessions, and following up with them all help you get to know your writing clients and tailor your services to be the best editor you can.
Managing the less than ideal client
Like it or not, every editor will have at least one client who is difficult to deal with or never pays the bill for any number of reasons. I’m not talking about the writer that falls on hard times and works something out with you. I’m talking about rude, ghosting clients, or challenging clients who are disrespectful and dismiss your expertise. There are many ways to manage this conflict and a few fallbacks for the financial fall out like bad debt reporting on taxes. You may want to consider taking a course or researching conflict management or mediation. Make sure you establish clear expectations around payment, protect yourself, and keep your boundaries. Sometimes the best solution is to step away from the project and client.
Establishing contracts is important to protecting yourself and your clients. It also helps to outline expectations for parties involved in your writing project. You don’t need a lawyer to write a contact, but it might be wise to have one review your contract if you’re not familiar with writing them. Contracts should be clear, in PLAIN language, and agreeable to both parties. You can save paper by using electronic signature applications that track information for audit purposes such as HelloSign. Email firstname.lastname@example.org you’re interested in purchasing my editor’s contract template for your use.
The first edition of Crucial Conversations exploded onto the scene and revolutionized the way millions of people communicate when stakes are high. This new edition gives you the tools to:
- Prepare for high-stakes situations
- Transform anger and hurt feelings into powerful dialogue
- Make it safe to talk about almost anything
- Be persuasive, not abrasive
This post was originally sent as an email to my Editing Services Newsletter email list in September 2020. If you’d like to receive emails like this, please sign up using the form in the sidebar.