FAQs About Your Completing Your First Freelance Writing Assignment

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Freelance writer sitting on the floor, frowning at his laptop computer.

It finally happened. You’ve pitched your work to potential clients, and someone has hired you for your first freelance writing assignment. Of course, now you have to deliver—and that is where a lot of new freelance writers start to get nervous. As you begin your work, remember that the client evaluated your samples; they chose you appreciating the way you write and feeling confident that you can do the work. Therefore, now is not the time to second guess your abilities. As you approach your assignment, you’re likely to have a lot of questions in mind about things that will become second nature as you progress further in your writing career. Here are the answers to many of the questions that first-time freelance writers have about their work. So, you can focus on completing your assignment with confidence.

Do I have to update my client on the work as I go?

When you have a deadline, the only times you need to communicate with your client are when you have a question about the content and when you’re ready to submit your work. If you agreed to periodic phone calls or video meetings about the assignment, then you should honor your agreements. However, you are not obligated to give clients status reports or let them know how things are coming along. In fact, you’re not supposed to do so—and clients are not supposed to ask. One of the things that differentiates freelance, contract-based work from regular employment is that you are not required to submit to monitoring of your work habits or daily output. The only thing your client can ask is for you to deliver a project at the deadline.

It is fine for you to agree to have meetings as necessary, but keep in mind that clients can’t hold you to specific work hours or a specific output per day. They also cannot mandate when or how you work. That crosses into the realm of employment, which is not the relationship you have with your client.

How do I submit my work to my client?

This answer depends on the agreement you made with your client. If you didn’t discuss these preferences when you accepted the project, check in and ask. Your client may have worked with freelance writers in the past. If so, they may have a clear preference in mind. If your client hasn’t worked with a freelancer before, they may be looking to you to provide advice. Downloading your document from the Document Editor on Writers Work account and emailing the attachment is an easy strategy that should be convenient for most clients.

When should I ask for payment?

It’s fine to submit your invoice for payment after the work is accepted. Generally, it’s not a good idea to send your invoice with your submission of your work, because you don’t know if the client is going to come back and ask for edits. Hopefully, you agreed to a maximum number of edits that are included in your base fee for the projects. If the client goes over that number, you can perform them, but add on an additional editing fee for your work. If you didn’t agree to a specific number of edits, use your judgement. Usually, including two minor edits in your fee is reasonable, but speak up if your client wants more than that or wants significant rewrites of your work.

Once the client has accepted your work and is happy with the draft, send your invoice. It helps to put your payment terms, such as “on receipt” or “due within 30 days” on your invoice. It clears up any points of confusion and gives you a starting point to work from if the client is late paying you.

What should I do if the client asks for significant rewrites?

First, be aware that every freelance writer will deal with finicky clients. It goes with the territory and doesn’t reflect on the caliber of work that you do.

Start out by reviewing the assignment and the editing requests. Is the client asking for something that was not included in the original assignment? Are they trying to change the assignment after seeing the finished product and wishing that they had asked for something different? Alternatively, did you overlook some key points about the assignment in your final piece? Did you skip a section of content that the client wanted or fail to research a topic thoroughly enough?

After weighing these things, you can decide how to deal with the request. If the request is asking you to do a substantial amount of work that is not included in the original assignment, then speak up. Consider telling the client that they would have needed to include certain requests in the assignment for you to have included it in your finished piece, but that you are happy to make the changes for an additional fee.

On the other hand, if, on further review, you think you maybe didn’t fulfill the terms of the assignment or that you could legitimately improve some sections, consider making the fixes free of charge. This can help you maintain a good relationship with that client and learn more about dealing with future clients.

What should I do if I am going to miss the deadline?

As a freelance writer, you should aim to make missed deadlines a rarity, but life happens. If you are going to miss a deadline on your assignment, tell your client as soon as possible. Tell them the timeline that you will be able to meet, being careful to be realistic, so that you don’t end up missing the second deadline.

At Writers Work, you’ll find all of the tools you need to not only find your first freelance writing clients, but also to turn your first assignment into your first success as a writer. Get access to our tools built for writers just like you by signing up for a membership today.

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