Keep clients, vendors, employees, and contractors happy without ever meeting them

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I do 100% of my work as a freelance writer remotely. In fact, where I live (Bermuda), the terms of my visa prohibit me from soliciting clients inside the country. As a result, I’m 100% financially dependent on my ability to maintain successful remote client relationships.

Luckily, I’ve stumbled on a handful of ways to make these relationships work. I’ve had clients based in the United States, Hong Kong, Australia, and elsewhere with whom I’ve enjoyed fruitful, lucrative, and long-term professional relationships.

In this article, I’ll outline three important strategies for nurturing professional relationships with people you’ll never meet in…


The pros and cons of including late payment penalties in freelance writing contracts

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Many freelance writers include interest clauses in their standard form contracts. These clauses require clients to pay interest on outstanding amounts past invoice due dates.

But are these clauses effective in reducing late payments?

A quick sidenote about “penalties”

I use the term “penalty” a lot in this article. I’m using it in its colloquial sense, not its legal sense. There are specific rules about how and when you can use penalties in contracts that depend on the jurisdiction you’re in and the circumstances of the contract. …


Things for freelance writers to consider before signing a Non-Disclosure Agreement

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Non-disclosure agreements are standard practice for many freelance writing clients in a variety of industries. Unfortunately, they can complicate your subsequent reliance on the client relationship as a form of social proof. So, how do you balance the desire to provide discreet, confidential client service with your ability to effectively market your services?

In this article, I’ll discuss when you might push back on the details of an NDA and when you might not bother and just sign the document.

An offer you can’t refuse

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how an NDA might affect you as a writer, two brief notes about…


5 simple strategies to reducing the chance you’ll get stiffed on your next writing assignment

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No one likes working for free. And that’s doubly true when you’re promised payment that never materializes. But are there steps you can take to make it less likely that you’ll get screwed over on your next writing gig?

Unequivocally, yes! Here are five simple strategies to decrease the chance you’ll find yourself holding the bag after your next writing assignment.

Client screening

Not all clients are equally desirable. While most people you’ll encounter in the freelance writing business are reasonable and professional, there are exceptions to the rule. …


A roadmap to handling non-payment for completed work

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Let’s say you recently completed a significant amount of work for a client. Payment on your last invoice was due at 11:59 PM on Friday and, lo and behold, Saturday rolls around but your PayPal account remains empty. What should you do?

Patience and understanding

Many people are tempted to immediately send a sternly worded email reminding the client of their overdue amount. Others rely on automated messages that simply say things like “Second Notice” or “Final Reminder.”

I advise against both of these approaches. The former is needlessly aggressive and tends to get clients’ backs up. The latter is impersonal and insensitive.


From harmful to just plain annoying, these persistent myths are long overdue for the scrap heap

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The world of freelancing is full of myths that are, at best, dubious and, at worst, downright harmful. In this short article, I’ll bust a few of the ones that I’ve seen pop up over and over again.

Myth #1: You should never work for pennies

There are plenty of writers out there who will tell you you should never agree to work for extremely low rates, even at the beginning of your practice. Some argue that these sorts of engagements reduce prices across the board for all writers. …


10x your online freelance writing business with accounting skills

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Are you a full- or part-time freelance writer who works primarily online? If you are, then becoming familiar with accounting is not optional.

Lacking skills in this area threatens the viability of your business, impairs growth, and creates unnecessary work. Simultaneously, being proficient in financial accounting accelerates growth, improves your understanding of your business, and encourages efficiency.

In the article below, I’ll give you a list of accounting skills to learn and the reasons to learn them.

What is accounting?

The core competency of accountants is the drawing of insights from financial data. …


These are the criteria you need to consider to set a fair price for your writing

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The biggest question on the minds of many freelance writers, especially those new to the game, is, “What should I be charging?”

It’s an exercise in futility to try and offer a general range of prices since different writers charge such wildly varying amounts for work of equally variable quality. The market offers one-cent-per-word writers churning out content for Upwork and ghostwriters charging wealthy executives $50,000+ for lengthy pieces of content.

And while I can’t offer you a specific number you should ask for, I can suggest several questions you’ll want to consider when determining the price of your next…


Invest time and money in these areas to overcome stagnation and grow your business

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Continuing professional development is as crucial for a solo freelance writer as it is for any lawyer, doctor, accountant, or other professional. A steady influx of new knowledge and skills is necessary to maintain and improve your level of success. In other words, if you’re not moving forward, you’re falling behind.

I was reminded of this when I read this excellent article on professional development for freelancers by Rosie Alderson, PhD:

And while the article emphasized the importance of continuing to grow as a professional, it didn’t point out any specific subject areas that might be of particular use to…


From business leaders who should know better

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Elon Musk. Jeff Bezos. Mark Zuckerberg. They are some of the richest entrepreneurs in history and, if much of their media coverage is to be believed, virtually infallible.

For many, their names are synonymous with an almost omniscient understanding of business.

And I say that’s — to use a term of art — a buncha hooey.

Because for all their wealth, success, and power, these men — and those like them — frequently prove that they are just that: men. They understand some things and fail to understand others. They are skilled in some areas and incompetent in others.

And…

Steven Toews, JD, MBA

Former criminal defense counsel and prosecutor and current freelance writer. Writing on entrepreneurship and freelance success. Follow me at @steventoews.

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