For a writer, time is definitely money. Your writing income depends on your time, and your time’s limited, even if you’re a full-time writer. We all waste time, but what if our time is stolen?
I started thinking about people who steal our time last week. A new writer was struggling with a client. He’d commissioned her to write the content for his company’s website.
A straightforward assignment, you’d think. Unfortunately the client turned out to be a micro-manager, calling New Writer at least once a day. He also flooded her inbox with ten messages a day.
“Charge him,” I said briskly when New Writer told me her tale of woe. “He’s stealing your time.”
She sent me an estimate of the time she’d spent dancing around with this client over the past couple of weeks — conservatively, some three hours.
New Writer said she couldn’t charge him. “Sure you can,” I said. “Send him an invoice for the three hours, at your usual hourly rate. Include a little statement, reporting that all of your time which isn’t covered by the brief, is chargeable. And that anything over 30 minutes is charged as a full hour. You can also say that going forward, you’ll invoice weekly.”
New Writer did it. The result? She was paid for her three hours, and the client’s stopped calling her.
She’s much happier, and she’s gained a little confidence in working with clients. You need to train your clients to behave well. Most will be professional. Unfortunately, you’ll run into the occasional bully; but time thieves can only steal your time if you allow them too.
“Free” in “freelance” applies to you, no one else
Suddenly, the client’s problems become yours. You’re delegated all kinds of activities, none of which are covered by your project brief.
Again, this is time thievery. When it happens, call the client, and say, calmly and professionally: “This is outside the brief. Thank you for thinking of me. I’m happy to do it. I’ll invoice you for it (whatever he asked you to do) immediately.”
Here’s the point. Good clients won’t steal your time. They expect you to invoice for anything outside the scope of your brief, and will often tell you to invoice for incidentals. When a client doesn’t, speak up.
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