15 Jun 2019

Are You Embarrassed By Rejection? Here’s What Freelancers Can Do

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I’m sure that every freelancer goes through periods of rejection. Regardless of the niche, whether it be writing, creating applications, making costumes or putting on parties, rejection is a regular occurrence and part of the business of working with clients.

A few years ago I was photographing a masquerade ball, and I wanted to have an excellent, head-turning costume. I hired one of the top costume-makers in Southern California, and we spent several hours going over what I wanted. I was so excited as I was sure the costume was going to be spectacular.

When it arrived, and I saw what she had created, I had to struggle to keep tears from my eyes. The monstrosity that she gave me was so horrible that I can’t even begin to describe it. On top of that, the thing was a heat trap, which, given the 100-degree weather, was not going to work at all.

We had a conversation which turned a little heated, and finally, I agreed to pay for materials and half the labor. I never wore the outfit and after a few years of collecting dust in my closet I gleefully threw the thing away.

As a freelance writer, I go through the same thing from time to time. I listen to what the clients says he or she wants and do my best to deliver on their stated goals and needs.

Most of the time, I hit the mark or come reasonably close. My interviewing skills are pretty good, and it’s usually just a matter of asking the right questions to be sure I understand their goals, their audience, and their voice.

Out of those that do come back with a negative reaction, it’s usually corrected with a little communication and revision. As all writers know, that’s part of the game we play. This is especially true of ghostwriting – sometimes we don’t quite hit the mark on the first try. That’s why it is vital to ensure our clients understand this is a more-or-less collaborative process.

Here’s an essential point: ensure your quotes include time for revisions. There will ALWAYS be revisions, and sometimes they can exceed the time it took to create the original by several times.

Once in a while, the client outright rejects the writing with words such as “horrible” and “you call yourself a writer?” What’s amusing is in virtually all instances, after a conversation with the client, I have found the revisions are minor, and their objection was to something misworded, a single phrase or a word they didn’t like. In other words, there isn’t that much wrong at all. Sometimes the client is even mildly embarrassed about what they wrote as if they forgot there is a human being with feelings on the other side of that email message.

Then there are those clients who just reject it for various reasons and refuse to get even into the discussion about what to do to correct the deliverable.

It’s rare, but occasionally you’ll run across a client who rejects the work time and again in an attempt to get you to do more than you are contractually obligated to deliver. I’ve been on projects in my computing career where we provided tens of thousands or more dollars of services over and above what the contract to “make the client satisfied.” Guess what? It didn’t work. The client wasn’t satisfied no matter what we did.

Resist the temptation to deliver more than your obligation. Doing so is a losing game, and with 35 years of experience, I can tell you that not once has this worked out well. When the client asks (demands) additional “free” services, deliver a quote for the extra work. A freelancer’s time is money, and by giving away work for free, you cheapen yourself, and you may wind up losing money on the deal.

Rejection is part of being a freelancer. It doesn’t matter if you write articles for magazines, code applications for businesses, create costumes for dancers, or clean houses. Sometimes the client will not be satisfied. It’s part of the game. All you can do is deliver your best work, communicate with the unhappy client to correct any issues, if possible, and move on.

Most important of all, never get emotional with your customers, regardless of whether they are right or wrong or even if they are yelling and using profanity. Remain professional, deliver your best work, work with them when there is a disagreement, and move on.

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