I'm not sure why, but some freelance writers I know seem to treat clients as though they're some mythical creature who, once caught, should be worshipped in some way. Don't get me wrong. You should be good to your clients. But there's a fine line between being good to them while being responsible in your work and idolizing them to the point where you can't communicate effectively.

It's as though some freelance writers are afraid to talk to their clients. That's silly, right? Afterall, clients are human too.

So why is it that some freelancers seem to be scared to death to be open and honest with clients? I guess the way I see it is this:

  1. A client came to me as a specialist, so if they ask for my advice or opinion on something I'm going to give it (and honestly). If they just want a yes man, they can hire an employee. (And I can't recall a single client of mine ever not respecting an honest opinion when asked for.)
  2. It's not in anyone's best interest for you, as a freelancer, to be confused or frustrated. If a client has unusually high demands or contacts you excessively, it can make you hate the job. And if that happens, you're not going to be able to put your best effort into the project. It's in your best interest to talk to them about it (calmly and maturely). It's in their best interest too (they want you to be able to give them your best).

I've had less than a handful of situations where I really needed to sit down with a client and work out some new ground rules. In one case, for example, it was because a client was contacting me too much and about things I wasn't contracted to do. They were very understanding about it, and we moved on to finish the project without a problem. Another case was with a client who would constantly change their mind (as in they'd go over project details, approve them for writing, and then completely change their approach when it was in-progress or completed). They didn't realize how much time it was wasting (and costing me) when they did that. So we worked it out and set up a new plan for revisions (meaning a higher cost to them). Once they realized what was happening, they focused more on finalizing their ideas up front, and we didn't have to do many revisions at all on future projects.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with talking to your clients if you're feeling overwhelmed. Chances are good that you can work the situation out. And no, it doesn't mean you have to be afraid that the client will just tell you to take a hike. Remember that they need you as much as you need them. It's a mutual relationship, and as in any kind of relationship communication is key.

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