Posts filed under 'Events'

Ask the cubicle expat: Help! My star client has begun making unreasonable demands on my time!

L. asks: One of my favorite copywriting clients has me on a retainer, which usually works out very well for us both. However, in the last two months a third project manager has been added. My lovely retainer has gone from well-managed to every reason to say “no” to such work in the first place: non-stop emails, minuscule timelines, and repeated fires. When I talk to the PM and try to correct the behavior, her response is, “Just tell me and I’ll get another writer.” (A family member of hers is a copywriter.) My three contacts are peers, so I’m not sure how to best broach the issue. I’d hate to lose the client, but things do need to change. Any recommendations? Thanks!

I answer: Ack! I feel your pain! Obviously this is not a sustainable situation or you wouldn’t be writing to me. Some suggestions (feel free to mix and match as you see fit):

1. Meet with all three managers (or whomever was your initial contact) and tell them you can better serve the company by having one point of contact, not three. Make it about the benefits to their business (more efficient, more personalized attention, whatever) than the benefits to you. If you only meet with one of your contacts, don’t badmouth the others; be diplomatic.

2. Let the client(s) know that the workflow has changed and it’s no longer efficient. (Last minute requests mean you’re not always available that minute or you have to do a rush – and thus, less than ideal – job.) Suggest that they funnel all requests into one daily or weekly phone meeting or email. Any other requests will have to wait until the next meeting/call.

3. Since I don’t know what you’re making on this gig, how many hours you’ve agreed to work, and how many hours you’re actually working, it’s hard to get super-specific on how much more money or what timeframe limitations to ask for. But clearly you’re being subjected to scope creep, which can only mean one thing for a freelancer: you’re working more for the same amount of money, which means you have less time for other clients and essentially are losing money. This has to stop!

Tell your client(s) that the parameters have changed and you’d like to renegotiate. You can put a time cap on the hours you devote to them each week, you can ask for more money, or you can ask to reconfigure the pay structure (instead of retainer they pay you per hour or project). If what’s happening is that they expect you to be on call 40 hours a week but are only paying you for 10 hours’ worth of work, I’d say you’re getting the short end of the stick. If they want you on call all week long, they should give you a full-time contract.

4. Speaking of contracts, do you have one? If so, I’m guessing they’re violating the terms. Even if you don’t, it sounds like it’s high time you mentioned – nicely – that they’re not sticking to the agreement you made at the start of the project and since the parameters of the job have changed, you’d like to renegotiate. And this time, get all the terms in writing so you can point to them later if things go haywire again.

If the client finds any of these requests so unreasonable that they feel they need to hire a family member they can abuse instead, it sounds like you’ll be dodging a bullet by letting them go, regardless of whether they’re friends of yours. It’s just business; in fact, letting them go might prevent any damage this situation is causing to your friendship. Also think of all the time you’re wasting and money you’re losing on this gig. Instead you could focus those however many hours a week on replacing that client with a saner one.

Good luck with this!

Folks, if you want to hash out client problems like this with me and a group of your freelance peers, check out my online class on dealing with nightmare clients, which starts Feb. 5 and still has openings. Details here.

2 comments January 29th, 2011

Online class: Dealing with Nightmare Clients

My online class for rookie and veteran freelance writers on how to handle clients from hell is back!

“Dealing with Nightmare Clients” is a four-week online course – starting Friday, February 4! – sponsored by the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA). Although I’ll be delivering the lessons right to your inbox, you can follow along from anywhere, at your own pace, even if your own pace means working through the lessons at 3 a.m. on a weekend.

In this class, I’ll discuss how to tame those beastly clients and editors who seem all too happy to stiff you, mess with your deadlines, and contact you at all hours of the night. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Chase down MIA payments and ensure you don’t get stiffed in the future
  • Handle runaway revisions and keep scope creep at bay
  • Deal with clients who are always late with deliverables
  • Set firmer boundaries with editors, project managers, and creative directors
  • Bolster your contracts with clauses that can help prevent scope creep, deadline changes, and late payments
  • Determine whether a troublesome client relationship is salvageable

Since we can all learn from one another’s trials and tribulations, I’ll devote the last session of the class to answering your burning questions about any nightmare clients you’ve been dealing with. Additional details about the class:
 
When: Fridays, February 4 - 25 (four online sessions).
Where: Your computer. Each lesson will arrive in your inbox (also accessible via Yahoo Groups on the web), which means you can follow along on your own time.
Cost: Editorial Freelancers Association members $134; nonmembers $159.
Register: On the EFA website.
Questions? Feel free to email me.

Add comment January 18th, 2011

Pick my brain! (Free career advice this week!)

Got a burning question about freelancing, contract work, or anything else relating to alternate ways of working? I’ll be answering them this week (yes, all week!) on Questionland, along with several other career experts. Stop on by and see if you can stump me…

4 comments January 17th, 2011

Two Seattle events 9/21 for freelance writers

To the Seattle-area freelance writers who keep up with this site: In case you haven’t heard, there’s a fabulous low-cost conference for current and hopeful freelance journalists happening in Seattle next Tuesday, 9/21, followed by the next mediabistro cocktail party for Seattle-area media types. The details on both follow. Feel free to attend one or both — and to spread the word to friends.
 
{{{ EVENT #1 }}}
 
Get Your All Access Pass Today!
All Access Pass: Freelancer’s Survival Guide 
 
Planning finances, understanding contracts, caring for and feeding your editors. Being a successful freelance writer takes a few unique skills.
 
Northwest journalists can get the inside scoop on the industry at “All Access Pass: The Freelancing Survival Guide”  Tuesday, Sept. 21 at the REI flagship store, 222 Yale Ave. N. in Seattle.
 
The cost is $40; SPJ members receive a $10 discount. Get your ticket at Brown Paper Tickets: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/123411
 
For more information, read more or please contact SPJ board member David Volk at david at davidvolk.com or 206.696.5426.
 
KUOW commentator and travel writer Crai Bower will lead a session titled “From Proposal to Paycheck,” following a story idea through the process from pitch letter to publication while Patricia Vaccarino, author of “PR for People: Be famous for who you are and what you do” will head up a panel on “Branding for Writers.”
 
Speakers include Paul Frichtl, editor of Alaska Airlines Magazine; Nicole Meoli, editor of AAA Journey Magazine; James Ross Gardner, senior editor of Seattle Met Magazine; Katherine S. McKelvey, publisher of Kenmore Air in-flight publication, Harbors Magazine; Julie Case, managing editor of Columns Magazine; Financial advisor Steve Juetten; Robert Cumbow, attorney with Graham and Dunn who specializes in intellectual property rights; Alex Johnson, MSNBC.com senior writer/producer; and Diane Mettler, trade publication writer and editor of Timberwest Magazine.
 
The event is sponsored by the Western Washington Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. It will open in REI’s upstairs meeting room with a panel discussion, followed by a selection of concurrent sessions that participants can tailor to their interests.
 
Topics include hidden freelance markets, diversifying income sources, the basics of running a business, financial planning for freelancers, research tips, contracts for freelancers, breaking into new markets and useful technology for journalists.  

For more information, contact Western Washington Society of Professional
Journalists: www.spjwash.org

{{{ EVENT #2 }}}
 
It’s mediabistro cocktail party time again! The next mediabistro-sponsored party for Seattle-area media professionals is Tues, 9/21, from 5 to 7 pm at the Victory Lounge on Eastlake. Local writers Crai Bower and Michelle Goodman are co-hosting. Admission free; drinks are on you. RSVP here: http://www.mediabistro.com/events/view_event.asp?id=15571
 
The party begins after SPJ’s All-Access Pass Conference for freelance journalists (http://www.spjwash.org/) has wrapped up. Get your education on during the day with the SPJ and then continue schmoozing into the evening with your friendly mediabistro revelers. Or just come on down for the conference (or the party!). Hope to see some of you there.

1 comment September 16th, 2010

Seattle-area event for media professionals this week

Start the week off right with balanced eating, exercise, and a healthy dose of networking. Join me as I cohost a mediabistro party for Seattle-area media professionals this Tuesday. Connect with other media folks and share tips over cocktails.  

Mediabistro cocktail party – Tuesday, April 20
When:
7 to 9 pm
What: Cocktail party for media professionals – freelance, staff, and those between jobs. Admission free; cash bar with drink specials, plus complimentary appetizers. I’m cohosting with freelancer Crai Bower.
Where: Grey Gallery & Lounge, 1512 11th Avenue, Seattle
RSVP: Required. RSVP on mediabistro.com.

Add comment April 18th, 2010

Upcoming events for media folks and freelancers

If we haven’t seen each other yet this year, now’s the time. Join me as I cohost a mediabistro party for Seattle media professionals next week. Not a resident of Washington state? Not to worry. I’m sharing tips during a teleseminar on February 16. All you need is a phone. And finally, I invite you to bid farewell to March with a day chock full of seminars to help you navigate the freelance terrain during these challenging economic times. Event details follow.

Mediabistro cocktail party – Tuesday, February 9
When:
7 to 9 pm
What: Cocktail party for media professionals – freelance, staff, and those between jobs. Admission free; cash bar. I’m cohosting with freelancer Crai Bower.
Where: Grey Gallery & Lounge, 1512 11th Avenue, Seattle
RSVP: On mediabistro’s website

NOTE: The above party could use a volunteer to help the photographer jot down photo captions. Great opportunity for students and new freelancers who want to meet people in the media business. Email me if interested.

“Getting Started as a Freelancer” teleseminar – Tuesday, February 16
When: 9 pm EST
What: I’ll share tips on how to start a freelance career. Come with questions! I’ve got answers.
Where: Your telephone
Registration: IndieBizChicks.com; $10 for the entire IndieBizChicks Feb-March teleseminar series (my session + many others)

The Marketing Conference for Creative Freelancers: Finding and Keeping Work in a Tough Economy - Saturday, March 27
When: 8 am to 5:30 pm
What: In my session “Diversify or Starve! How to Stay Busy in a Tough Freelance Market,” I’ll discuss how to identify markets that are a natural extension of your skills, break into them, and promote yourself like crazy.
Where: Bastyr University, 14500 Juanita Drive NE, Kenmore
Sponsor: Tabby Cat Communications
Registration:
$75 for entire conference; more info here

1 comment February 8th, 2010

Online class: Dealing with Nightmare Clients

Just in time for Halloween, I’m offering a new online class for rookie and veteran freelance writers on how to handle clients from hell. 

“Dealing with Nightmare Clients” is a four-week online course — starting this Wednesday, October 21! – sponsored by the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA). Although I’ll be delivering the lessons right to your inbox, you can follow along from anywhere, at your own pace, even if your own pace means working through the lessons at 3 a.m. on a weekend.

In this class, I’ll discuss how to tame those beastly clients and editors who seem all too happy to stiff you, mess with your deadlines, and contact you at all hours of the night. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Chase down MIA payments and ensure you don’t get stiffed in the future
  • Handle runaway revisions and keep scope creep at bay
  • Deal with clients who are always late with deliverables
  • Set firmer boundaries with editors, project managers, and creative directors
  • Bolster your contracts with clauses that can help prevent scope creep, deadline changes, and late payments
  • Determine whether a troublesome client relationship is salvageable

Since we can all learn from one another’s trials and tribulations, I’ll devote the last session of the class to answering all your burning questions about any nightmare clients you’ve been dealing with. Additional details about the class:
 
When: Wednesdays, October 21 – November 11 (four online sessions).
Where: Your computer. Each lesson will arrive in your inbox (also accessible via Yahoo Groups on the web), which means you can follow along on your own time.
Cost: Editorial Freelancers Association members $135; nonmembers $160.
Register: On the EFA website.
Questions? Feel free to email me.

UPDATE: This class has been rescheduled for February 2010. Details here.

2 comments October 19th, 2009

My Pacific Northwest book readings this month

Hey, Seattle and Portland! There’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you: I’m doing a couple of book readings in the coming week for a nifty new Seal Press anthology called P.S. What I Didn’t Say: Unsent Letters to Our Female Friends. My contribution to the book? A story that manages to incorporate first love, family dysfunction, bigtime betrayal, and really, really bad hair.

senior photo

(Yep, that’s my senior year high school photo. I pretty much kept Aqua Net in business.)

If you want to hear more about my Jersey days in the eighties – and how I rocked a mullet, feather earrings, and Jordache jeans that required a pair of pliers to zip up – now is your chance (excerpt here).

Other contributors to this hilarious collection of letters never sent to BFFs who’ve hurt, inspired, backstabbed, comforted, or up and died on us include Jane Hodges (the brilliant business journalist I hope to be when I grow up), Susan Johnston(freelance rockstar behind The Urban Muse), and Megan McMorris (editor of this unsent letter brigade as well as excellent anthologies like Woman’s Best Friend: Women Writers on the Dogs in Their Lives).

You can learn much more about this brand spanking new anthology here, and you can buy it here (or from your bookstore of choice). If you’d like to see Megan, Jane, me, and some of the other Pacific Northwest contributors read from and dish about this shiny new book, here are the dates:

- SEATTLE -
Date: Saturday, October 10
Time: 2 pm
Location: Elliott Bay Book Company, 101 South Main Street, Seattle
Who: Editor Megan McMorris and contributors Jane Hodges, Jen Karuza Schile, Anna Cox, and yours truly

 - PORTLAND -
Date: Thursday, October 15
Time: 7:30 pm
Location: Powell’s Hawthorne location, 3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd., Portland
Who: Editor Megan McMorris, contributors Sarah Bowen Shea, Jane Hodges, and again, yours truly

4 comments October 8th, 2009

Freelance writing tips — live and in person this Monday!

Seattle area folks, want to learn the ins and outs of the freelance writing life, and soon? I thought so. Join me this Monday, October 5 for a little talk with a big name, Learn Your Way Around the Business End of Freelancing and Become a Pitch-Slapping Success, which I’ll be giving with my pal Diane Mapes. In this 2009 SPJ Fall Continuing Ed Series class, we’ll give freelancers of all stages our best tips on making your writing business legit and drumming up a steady stream of print and web assignments.

Stuff I’ll be talking about during the two-hour, practically free class:

• Managing the finances of freelancing (setting rates, paying taxes, avoiding food stamps)
• Covering your behind (insurance, licenses, whether you need to form an LLC)
• How — and where — the heck anyone finds freelance work in this blasted economy

As a bonus, the illustrious Ms. Mapes — whose credits include MSNBC.com, CNN.com, a humor column in the Seattle P-I, and a couple of hilarious books on dating, mating, and living single — will share her secrets for wooing editors and writing winning pitches.

The event deets:

Date: Monday, October 5, 2009
Time: 7 to 9 pm
Location: The Seattle Times’ auditorium, 1120 John St., Seattle 98109
Cost: Free to SPJ members; $10 for nonmembers
RSVP: Email Dana Neuts, SPJ regional director
Perk: Free parking, pizza, and bottled water for attendees!

1 comment October 4th, 2009

Hey, it’s my summer events for freelancers

I have two events coming up that may be of interest. The Seattle media party this Tuesday could use a volunteer to greet people/hand out name tags at the door in case anyone’s interested (great way for shy people and new writers to meet the writers, editors, and other seasoned media peeps in attendance). If so, leave me a comment or send me an email; thanks! Also note that the rate for the Creative Freelance Conference goes up by $50 after July 15.

- SEATTLE -

Mediabistro cocktail party – Tuesday, July 14, 2009
When:
 7 to 9 pm
What: Cocktail party for freelance, staff, and laid-off media professionals. Admission free; cash bar. I’m cohosting (i.e., greeting folks at the door) with freelancer Crai Bower.
Where: Grey Gallery & Lounge, 1512 11th Avenue, Seattle
Sponsor: mediabistro
RSVP: Via mediabistro’s event page

- SAN DIEGO -

Creative Freelancer Conference – August 26-28, 2009
What: “Dealing with Nightmare Clients” (90-minute session at three-day conference)
Where: Omni San Diego Hotel
Sponsor: HOW and Markting Mentor
Registration: CreativeFreelancerConference.com ($445 by July 15; $495 after July 15)

2 comments July 10th, 2009

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Hi, my name's Michelle Goodman and I've been freelancing since 1992. I'm author of My So-Called Freelance Life and The Anti 9-to-5 Guide. Read my full bio here.

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