What I’m reading: Guide to Human Conduct by P. R. Sarkar
What’s on the iPod: Better Together by Jack Johnson
Back to normal. With Mom back home, I had about three hours uninterrupted to get some work done. I managed a good bit. I have a head start on the newsletter project, all parties contacted, and one interview already done. Let’s hope today is as productive.
Thanks again for all the comments and support for Writers Worth Week. And now, thanks to an online random number generator, here are the winners of The Worthy Writer’s Guide to Building a Better Business:
– Ronda Levine
– Jake P.
– LC Gant
Congratulations! Drop me an email and I’ll send you over your copy today. Thanks again, everyone!
On one of the blog posts I wrote last week, a small discussion ensued about what types of clients some writers avoid. One writer said she avoids clients who are startups and individuals. I can see that as valid. And yet, I can’t.
I too have had no end of issue with startup companies and the occasional single client. The first tends to put all its money into the trappings – shiny new offices, slick technology, and the best possible address for the price – and forgets that there will be additional expenses, such as contractors. One odd truth I’ve come across: the slicker the business card, the less likely they’re paying anywhere near your fee.
Yet there are any number of great startups that have planned and budgeted for contract help. The same with individuals. The difference seems to be in the contract itself. The strength of the contract at the outset is the best indicator of how well the relationship will work.
That’s not to say they won’t test it. I had a client that decided midway through a project that the fee we’d contracted at wasn’t something they were interested in paying any longer. They said “We’ll just pay $XX for this.” Right. And I’m going to fly to the moon next week.
What needs to be in that contract to protect you?
Sensible payment terms. It’s not enough to agree to three installments with the third coming “at the end of the project.” There’s the loophole – who and what defines the end? If you’re smart, you will. Always put a date on that end payment. I learned this the hard way when one project dragged on for a year.
Hourly limits. If you’ve not worked for the client before, make sure to spell out how many hours of your time that fee is paying for. Otherwise, that $3,000 fee could dissipate under 12 rounds of edits and months of back-and-forth.
Revision limits. Make sure you allow your clients enough revisions to get their project to a good place. However, don’t give them endless edits. That is interpreted as “Well, if we want to tweak this in six months or a year, we can.” I give them three edits, then we start charging my hourly rate for each additional edit or rewrite.
The number of people involved. You who know me know how I feel about posses – those friends, family, and colleagues who suddenly show up at the tail end of your project to give your client (and subsequently you) a ton of editorial advice. I’ve had client relationships dissolve as a result of the posse’s involvement. Now my contracts state very plainly the parties covered under the contract, those who aren’t, and what will happen if Uncle Fred now decides he can write better than the paid professional. The minute Fred appears, the contract is void and full payment is due immediately. And yes, I’ve had to wield that clause once or twice.
Project parameters. Spell out exactly what you’ll be doing. It clarifies it in everyone’s mind, and it helps you avoid project creep so your article doesn’t morph into a white paper or a manual.
Writers, what do you put in your contracts? What are your thoughts on working with startups and individual clients? How do you know when it’s a good fit?