Thursday, January 31, 2008

When Good Gigs Go Bad...

Relationships end. That's a fact of life. It's definitely a fact of freelance writing. But what happens when something that seems so right ends up being so wrong?

We all have been through it and if you haven't, count yourself lucky. You get with clients you wish had never darkened your email box. Clients you wish you'd thrown back into the Craigslist pool.

Like most relationships, we try to fix what is broken. Perhaps the client is rude, or inexperienced to the point of detriment to the project or so scatterbrained their indecision affects your ability to provide service. Perhaps they are demanding and supreme micro-managers.

Whatever the case, several techniques can be applied: ignore the irritating portion of the client and focus on the good, try to understand the client's point of view, tactfully approach the client with your concerns or end the relationship.

Ignoring the problem could work if it only crops up occasionally, but if it's a steady stream, you may find yourself dealing with more elephants in the room than you've got space for.

Looking from the client's perspective - are they stressed? Have they just started being difficult? Maybe there's something going on. It's no excuse, but we all have those rough patches.

Approaching the client. Even the most tactful run the risk of the relationship ending. Decide beforehand if you are willing to lose a gig to win peace of mind. Sometime's it's worth it, other times - man you just gotta let it burn - to paraphrase Usher.

That doesn't mean you hit your soon-to-be-ex-client with a barrage of insults and tell 'em to hit the bricks, even though you may want to. Badly. So bad you have to walk away from the computer less your fingers take over. Put away the gasoline and step away from the bridge - you may need it.

The thing to remember is to maintain your professionalism even if you're client doesn't. Because your professionalism is a trademark of your character and as a hallmark of your character, other clients will not only love to work with you, they'll be immune to any naysayer former client yuckiness.

You never know where you're going to see a client again, the writing world can be awfully small sometimes and editors gossip like schoolgirls sometime.

Coming up tomorrow: Signs of a Bad Gig

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