How to Survive As a Content Provider

17 replies
I've gotten several emails of late from people asking how *I* would handle certain situations that have come up in the course of writing content for others. Let me just preface this advice by saying that 90% of the people that I have dealt with from the Warrior Forum have been 100% honest and not out to get something for nothing. There are those however who try to milk the system and want you to either work for peanuts or nothing at all. Here are some rules I've learned to live by:

1. I don't do re-writes, period. This is merely a way for a client to get several articles for free. They reject the first version and then tell you that you need to re-write it so you send them another and so on. I got caught up in this when I first got started. The minute a client starts barking about how the article wasn't what he had in mind (after he gave vague requirements) I cut him loose and cut my losses. These people are time vampires and it begins to affect your delivery to other good, professional clients.

2. GET PAID FIRST. I've been incredibly lucky and have only gotten shafted once, but I've heard horror stories about many who have put in a lot of work only to be completely ignored once the work is delivered. On long term projects, ask for at least half up front, and then have the client review the work that you've done so far to make sure that you are on the right track. Communication is key in making sure that you are both pleased with the outcome. For smaller projects, you should be paid in full.

3. Deliver on time. This may sound easy on the surface, but life and other emergencies can get in the way. I lost my internet off and on in my neighborhood over a period of two weeks. This really put me behind schedule. Have a backup plan (I didn't at the time, but do now) so that you can at least communicate with your customers so they know you are not blowing them off and absconding with their money. Trust is a hard thing to establish over the internet.

4. Don't let rejection deter you. It's often the fear of rejection that keeps most people from making any real money when it comes to being a provider. If someone says your work isn't of the quality that they're looking for, then smile, thank them for their consideration and move on. As has been mentioned before in this forum, quality is subjective and largely based on the subject matter. Sometimes this tactic is used to try and convince you to lower your prices. Often these people will still come back and request you to write for them anyway. If they're still willing to pay you for your services, than your writing is obviously good enough for them at the prices you set.

5. Stick to your guns. Don't let anyone intimidate you into doing work for cheaper than you want or in a time frame you're not comfortable with. There's nothing more annoying than when you agree on a delivery date and then get emails every day before then asking when the content will be ready. I've actually sent an email to two clients who were like this and let them know that I didn't think that I could deliver what they're looking for. I got to the point where the money simply wasn't worth the aggravation and stress.

6. Don't be desperate. Desperation can often cause us to work for less than we're worth or to accept being treated poorly. That's the beauty of working for yourself, you don't have to put up with it. Take emotions out of the equation and just simply make the choice not to work for clients who are not willing to treat you fairly and with respect. Even if you're in a dire financial situation, you'll find that when dealing with difficult and demanding people that you're working for way less than you thought. The amount of time that these people demand can put your hourly wage down to pennies.

If you handle yourself in a professional and polite manner, even when they don't, you'll begin to earn a reputation as a solid content provider that can be relied upon. You're going to hit some bumps along the way, just make sure you learn from them and always strive to deliver solid customer service.

Cheers!!
Mary
#content #provider #survive
  • Profile picture of the author Dannyboy12
    cheers Mary, really valuable stuff, Im newly out of university (college) and have a bit of a passion for writing and wanting to set up a content service, so these tips are greatly appreciated
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    • Profile picture of the author azmanar
      Hi Mary,

      Lovely advice.

      Very useful for a lot of people.

      Thanks.
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      • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
        Mary, that's darn good advice for ANY service provider...
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  • Profile picture of the author Kecia
    Thanks for sharing these tips. Anyone looking to provide a service, writing or otherwise, can benefit from your post.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jaymark
    Good information and advice. It is especially important to demand payment upfront. And don't provide a new article free for their consideration. If the customer doesn't have enough faith to pay for the article, then move on.

    The vast number of offshore non native speaking writers who are willing to work for pennies makes it difficult to find well paying work sometimes. But it is out there. Many companies realize that high quality well written content costs more than 1 cent per word.

    The good news is that once you can located some of these better clients, you'll have more work than you can handle and it can turn into a nice income. Thanks again for your helpful insight and suggestions.
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  • Profile picture of the author heavyjay
    Originally Posted by notrichyet View Post


    3. Deliver on time. This may sound easy on the surface, but life and other emergencies can get in the way. I lost my internet off and on in my neighborhood over a period of two weeks. This really put me behind schedule. Have a backup plan (I didn't at the time, but do now) so that you can at least communicate with your customers so they know you are not blowing them off and absconding with their money. Trust is a hard thing to establish over the internet.


    Cheers!!
    Mary
    Hi Mary,
    You nailed it there. My biggest issue has been getting the content I've paid for. It seems that there is a Witness Protection Program for content writers. I agree with your other points about the content provider having to protect his/her interest, but I would respectfully submit that there are far more writers who don't deliver than there are customers who don't pay.

    Once the writer has our money, we are at their mercy. All we can do in the case of non-delivery is give it a reasonable amount of time and then file a dispute with Paypal, and hope they side with us.
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  • Profile picture of the author Audrey Harvey
    Originally Posted by notrichyet View Post


    5. Stick to your guns. Don't let anyone intimidate you into doing work for cheaper than you want.

    6. Desperation can often cause us to work for less than we're worth or to accept being treated poorly. Even if you're in a dire financial situation, you'll find that when dealing with difficult and demanding people that you're working for way less than you thought. The amount of time that these people demand can put your hourly wage down to pennies.


    Cheers!!
    Mary
    Excellent post, Mary. Just wanted to share my opinion on the topic of desperation and sticking to your guns re pricing. It's a bit different to yours.

    If someone was in dire financial straits, then I'd be inclined to suggest they take whatever work they could to get some money coming in. Sure, it may be less than their usual rate, but less is better than nothing when there's a bill to pay or they need to put food on the table. It needn't last forever; when the bank balance is better, they can always up their rate again.

    Mind you, we're all individuals, and we all approach circumstances differently. I just know that if I was up the creek without a paddle and needed money fast, I'd be happy give someone a bargain just to put some dollars in my wallet.
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  • Profile picture of the author AlexisMoore
    This is really good advice. It's too bad I didn't read a post like this when I was first starting out.

    This is especially true when it comes to what you mentioned about having a backup plan. When you are dealing with computers, anything can happen! It's important to backup your work whenever possible, as I lost several projects when I first started out from computer glitches.

    I agree that quality is subjective, but of course there is a line that shouldn't be crossed. How many articles have you seen online and wondered who in the world thought it was okay to publish that?

    It almost makes me defensive sometimes. When I see content that is severely poor in quality or obviously spun, for some reason I get very defensive. It makes me feel like someone is disgracing what I do for a living. Do any other writers get this feeling, or is it just me?
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    • Profile picture of the author John Mogusar
      Hi Mary,

      I was just reading through this forum to find some pearls of wisdom that I could use, and I ran across this one. It's currently on page 20, but I think it would be a shame if it wasn't bumped again to share with more Warriors.

      I will start providing article writing services this Sunday, and your advice is perfect for me!

      This one thread made my browsing time worth while!

      Thank you, Mary.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rose Anderson
    Mary, good advice. Thanks for sharing.

    Alexis, no, it's not just you. It is very disturbing to find all the garbage floating around the internet. It's amazing how many people don't care that their name (or pen name) is associated with utter c***.

    Thank goodness there are many others that do care.
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  • Profile picture of the author GameVoid
    I disagree with #1 and #2 if you are planning on moving past the penny per word article pool. I charge my clients a lot more than that so if they want some revisions to an article I will do it. Of course I won't give them 5 entirely different articles for free but if they write me back and say "I need this done in a more casual tone" or something along those lines I can and have done it and have been rewarded with more business for doing so.

    As for #2 I get 50% upfront before I start writing anything for new clients. For clients I have worked with before regularly sometimes I will skip the deposit step but then deliver only half or two thirds of the work and then ask for my payment. No one has ever complained about it. Most clients don't like bothering with the deposit and pay up front but knowing that they had the option makes me look good.

    I would add that it is important to get as much information out of your client as possible before you write the first word. This avoids a lot of troubles down the road. You work FOR the client, not the other way around. I think a lot of people forget that. Yes writing is a high demand skill and quality writers are scarce but they DO exist. So if you go into a writing job with the classic "I am a delicate artist and I will tell YOU what is good writing or not" then don't be surprised when some other guy walks off with your client next week.
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    • Profile picture of the author notrichyet
      Originally Posted by GameVoid View Post

      I disagree with #1 and #2 if you are planning on moving past the penny per word article pool. I charge my clients a lot more than that so if they want some revisions to an article I will do it. Of course I won't give them 5 entirely different articles for free but if they write me back and say "I need this done in a more casual tone" or something along those lines I can and have done it and have been rewarded with more business for doing so.

      As for #2 I get 50% upfront before I start writing anything for new clients. For clients I have worked with before regularly sometimes I will skip the deposit step but then deliver only half or two thirds of the work and then ask for my payment. No one has ever complained about it. Most clients don't like bothering with the deposit and pay up front but knowing that they had the option makes me look good.

      I would add that it is important to get as much information out of your client as possible before you write the first word. This avoids a lot of troubles down the road. You work FOR the client, not the other way around. I think a lot of people forget that. Yes writing is a high demand skill and quality writers are scarce but they DO exist. So if you go into a writing job with the classic "I am a delicate artist and I will tell YOU what is good writing or not" then don't be surprised when some other guy walks off with your client next week.
      My experience with new clients who demand a bunch of re-writes hasn't been as positive as yours. That being said, I will rewrite articles for good customers that I have had a long term relationship with and I know I can trust. The ones I'm speaking about, give little or no information as to what they're looking for no matter how hard you try and pry it out of them. I always ask for clarification and if I don't get it, then sorry, I'm not going to provide someone with free work. The good news is, I haven't been asked for a re-write in some time.

      I only take 50% up front on longer term projects. I can put out a 5 article pack on an Amazon product fairly quickly and it wouldn't make sense to ask for half of it up front and then the other half an hour and a half later....

      Just my thoughts.
      Mary
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      • Profile picture of the author Kerry Finch
        The best way to avoid the 'rewrite request' is to ask clients to complete a brief. I use Survey Monkey for this and it works a treat. Include requests for information that will help the project run smoothly:

        Resources: topic authority sites, competitors sites
        Tone: informal, businesslike, educational

        And MOST IMPORTANTLY, Keywords.
        I NEVER accept a project where keywords are not provided. Not only does this information affect the way the content is constructed, but also delivers on the SEO objectives of the client.

        This is often the one question that gives clients pause. It makes them step back and consider the objectives of their project and the purpose of the content. Making them do this may cause a few drop offs, but I don't care. Those are the people who don't know good SEO content when they receive it, and who will nit-pick.

        Should it ever happen that my content not deliver on the brief (hasn't happened yet), I would of course rewrite it. I guarantee premium content and want to keep my clients happy.

        On the rewrite subject, I don't rewrite other people's work either. That is tantamount to theft. I do offer to provide a (paid) rewrite of the content that I've created for a client though, to enable them to leverage it through article networks, directories, doc sharing etc.

        I ALWAYS insist on payment in advance. Once delivered, I cannot get it back.
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  • Profile picture of the author Susovan
    This post will provide a lot of information to the service providers. the tips are not only to protect the interest of the writers but will also help the writers to develop their quality of writing in a relaxed mode. Some tips are there which would keep them "cool" and will encourage them advancing as an individual service provider.
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  • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
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    How to survive as a content buyer:

    1. Never give an untested writer a large job and pay upfront. Give them one or two small test articles. If you're not happy with the quality, move on. I can't tell you how many writers have bid on projects stating BS in English, English as native language, etc only to find that their writing was horrible.

    2. Writers who don't meet deadlines put you in a bind, often with your own clients. I've had many writers who deliver the first batch of articles on time and then seem to have every calamity imaginable befall them. When writers start pouring out excuses for late delivery, move on.
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  • Profile picture of the author aajvcad
    See, I have gone trough 32 writers in last 3 months. Finaly I have found 3 that are good enough and honest to keep.

    The biggest problem was - Not deliverying at all
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  • Profile picture of the author Murlu
    Learning to say NO and standing by my pricing has helped me the most.

    When I first started I was happy with just having clients but I now realize the quality of my work especially since I can back it up through the multiple, successful blogs I have. People know what I can deliver so I will straight up tell people if I think I'm being low-balled.

    You do have to bit the bullet sometimes but remember that you're the one doing the work so make sure you're getting paid for it.
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