The (Updated) Freelancer’s BS Litmus Test

multiple-choice-1316055Back in 2010, I came up with what I call the BS Litmus Test.

It’s a series of questions freelance writers can ask themselves when considering a new client or project. The goal when I wrote it was to get us freelancers to think deeper into the relationship and the project so that we make decisions based on sound reasoning.

Isn’t that the way we should be running a freelance writing business?

Now that a few  years have passed since I first came up with that test, I thought it was time to revise it. This test not only helps you decide if a project is a good fit, but it can help you understand the time involved, which can help when you’re pricing the project.

Here are the things we freelancers need to consider before accepting a new client or signing a contract:

The Project – Is it something I believe in? Can I get excited about it? Is it worth taking on as described? Is the expected end result realistic? Does the client expect me to fill in the project blanks, or are they organized and ready?

The Goals – Does the client know what he/she wants? Can they convey that easily, or at least coherently enough to get the main idea across? Can I get the client’s goal down to one or two sentences? Does it make sense? When I repeat it back, does the client agree?

The Time Frame – Is the client allowing enough time for me to get the work done? Are they receptive to my offering timeline suggestions?

The Communication – Does it take a week to understand what this client wants? Can the client answer my pointed questions in a way that I get what he’s trying to do?

The People Involved – Can I get a verbal, and then a written confirmation of the involved parties and what their roles are? How many people will be reviewing the drafts? Who hold final decision-making power? Does the client want expert sources and if so, are they providing them? Are their selected experts on board and available?

The Payment – Is the payment in line with the work involved? Is the client attempting to set the rate, or am I able to propose my fee? Is the client willing to negotiate fairly? Is the client willing to provide partial payment at the start of the project?


Writers, what goes into your BS Litmus Test?

Do you have an example of how this kind of vetting has helped you either secure better work or avoid a questionable situation?

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