Freelance writers tend to work, think and act like the small business owners they are. When they get an idea they act on it. When they think of a pitch, they write it up and send it. Landing a copy-writing or custom publishing contract with a large corporation can bring on a big case of culture shock if the organization takes what seems like forever to make decisions or finish projects.
Valerie Ward know this more than most. Ward has spent 16+ years working as a freelance writer and communications consultant, writing for private and public sector organizations as well as print and online publications.
In this guest post, Ward share some of the wisdom she’s collected from working with corporate clients. You can read more about Valerie and her work here.
It’s easy to feel frustrated and powerless, but there are ways to cope. Here are a few:
1. Help the client to help you. Prepare a schedule for the products you’ve been contracted to deliver, working back from the due date and factoring in approval cycles and other project milestones. Update it regularly and distribute updates to the client. Not only does a schedule help you, it helps organize the client, educating him or her about turnaround times and the effect of internal delays. Clients aren’t always aware of the role they have to play in helping freelancers deliver a quality product, whether it’s giving timely feedback on work or providing essential information and contacts.
2. Suggest ways to streamline approvals. If drafts must go through multiple approvals, encourage the client to appoint someone in-house to review changes, sort out discrepancies and consolidate everything into a single document before sending it back. An efficient approvals process will save the client time and money, as well as make your life simpler. Besides, an employee is in a better position than a contractor to talk to people who’ve made changes and negotiate what goes and what stays. By working with a one set of revisions, you can focus on the writing and editing you’ve been hired to do.
3. Don’t stress out when you can’t do anything. It can be crazy-making when you’re working on deadline and the project abruptly comes to a standstill for days or weeks. But if you can’t change it, don’t stress over it. Instead, take advantage of the delay to work on other projects or look for future business. Be patient. As long as the client understands that internal delays will affect the due dates, just accept them. They’re an unavoidable part of freelancing for organizations.
What are your secrets for dealing with large corporate clients?