Being A Freelance Writer: Views From Both Sides Of The Fence

Last time I wrote a blog post here on was way back in June 2010.  Working with Jenn on a variety of other projects since, things have changed a lot over the past few years.

When I used to write for AFW, I was writing part time. I had a full time job in a completely irrelevant field, working a standard 40 hour week and then I spent my evenings and weekends freelance writing.

With my aim always being to make freelance writing my full time role, I'm happy to say that's essentially what happened - and in the last three years I've gone from freelancing part time, to full time and now I'm on the other side of the fence where I'm hiring freelancer writers myself

I couldn't have asked for a better three years in terms of my freelance writing career.  My goals, aims and expectations have all been exceeded and today I'm working in a full time SEO position where content plays a major role.  And it's all because of my beginnings as a freelancer writer, including here at AFW.

Now whilst I'm sure some of you would be happy to read about the last 36 months of my life, that's not what I want to talk about today.  Instead, I want to discuss something I believe every freelance writer could benefit from knowing, but it's not something most freelancers I've met are aware of.

And that's that to see the most success possible as a freelance writer, you ideally need to be looking at both sides of the fence - rather than simply viewing a project from the side of the writer, you need to be doing so from the client's, too and asking any questions you need if the view is blurred.

When I was freelancing regularly, I'd do my best to understand what the client wanted.  I'd read the gig requirements that were set out and spend a respectable amount of time whilst writing a piece doing my utmost to ensure the end product essentially ticked all of the boxes.

But what I wouldn't do is gain clarification on a point I was unsure about.  I'm not saying I'd take a wild guess at something, but if there was more than one way something could be interpreted, I'd choose the way I wanted.

I never actually got any feedback - as far as I can remember - about this.  I can't think back to any time a client said "You know on that point where it could have been X or Y?  Yeah, you should have choose Y, not X".  However, it's since I've started to hire freelance writers that I've come to realise this is very likely to be because the client didn't know there was more than one option to choose from themselves when providing the work.

The very first time I hired a freelance writer, I did as much as I possibly could to tell them about what it was I was looking for, what needed to be included, what should be avoided and generally just give as in-depth of a breakdown of the project as I could.

Happy with the e-mail I sent, to say I was a little surprised the writer came back with a dozen or so questions is an understatement.  I felt a little disappointed I hadn't got it right first time round, but I also had a moment of realisation.

When I'd worked with some clients as a writer, they'd hire me once and then not again.  I know sometimes this was because they only had the need for one or two pieces of work, but I'm not certain this was the case all of the time.

And due to the hiring situation above, I'm now questioning whether it was because I didn't deliver the work to their exact needs, no matter how well-matched the end product was to the project specification.

As someone hiring freelancers, on that first project, if the freelance writer hadn't asked those questions, chances are I wouldn't have been completely satisfied with their work and wouldn't have hired them again, even though it was essentially my fault.

Interesting thought, isn't it?

It's been a fantastic couple of years for me when it comes to freelance writing and I've learnt a lot.  Knowing how hard it can be to succeed in the industry, I really do enjoy helping other writers as much as I can.

Therefore, I hope that today you realise by considering what it actually is the client wants - and asking any questions if you're unsure - you'll be able to feel confident they're as satisfied as they can be with the work you deliver.

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Dan is a freelance writer and small business consultant. Dividing his time between writing for both individual clients and national corporations and giving a helping hand to many small startup companies, he has several years experience in both areas, as well as a strong background in Search Engine Optimisation.

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