3 Non-Writing Factors that Can Make or Break Your Client Relationships


Quick announcement: I’ll be traveling to Manila and Tokyo from June 11 to July 13, so I’ll have limited access to the web and probably won’t be able to respond to emails, tweets, and comments for the time period. Don’t worry though, I have some content lined up for that time, so you can expect my newsletters/posts to arrive on schedule.

On a related note, my travel plans also meant I had to let go of a handful of short-term gigs and clients so I can focus on finishing pending projects and creating content in advance for the my long-term clients.

So I sent a “goodbye for now” email to a few people telling them about my situation and why I won’t be able to write for them for a while. Some of their responses were quite telling. They made me realize that being a good freelance writer isn’t just about writing well.

Your way with words isn’t the only thing you bring to the table when dealing with clients. As you’ll learn in this post, there are plenty of other things that they value in in freelance writers.

Below are the responses that I got from the clients that I had to let go of, along with my thoughts on what they mean for writers:


“It’s so hard to find a writer we can trust.”

This isn’t just about keeping their secrets or future plans under wraps. One of the biggest drivers of trust for clients (aside from keeping your mouth shut when you need to) is how you keep your word.

I’ve heard horror stories from businesses about writers who flaked out at the last minute. Or, who promised to deliver content on time, but failed to do so. These kinds of actions break your client’s trust and can pretty much guarantee that they won’t hire you again.

That’s why it’s important that you be very mindful of the promises you make. Don’t say “yes” when you’re not sure, and don’t make any guarantees or commitments you can’t keep.

Consistency is another big one.

Do you consistently deliver quality content? Do you regularly send in your work on time?  The more dependable and predictable you are with your work, the more “trust points” you’ll get.


“Finding a writer who really knows the industry can be tough.”

This is why I’m always advocating that writers find a niche to specialize in. The greater your expertise is, the more valuable you are to the client.

Being an expert in a particular industry also makes it easier for YOU to write content and generate ideas. It also enables you to set higher rates.


“It’ll be difficult to find another writer who knows my voice, habits, and preferences the way you do.”

I got this from someone I ghostwrite for, though it also applies to just about any type of client. Remember that each business has its own voice and clients have different preferences.

For example, I have a client who doesn’t like it when I link to other sites, so I make sure to steer clear of doing that when I’m writing for her. I also have a client who loves it when I include statistics, so I make it a point to add some studies and data in my articles for him.

Do the same thing with the people you work with. Study their styles, likes and dislikes, even their little quirks and tailor your approach accordingly.


What other non-writing factors or skills do clients love? Weigh in below.


PS: This is my first time visiting Tokyo, so if you have any suggestions on cool places to see there, please let me know in the comments. 🙂


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Francesca Nicasio

I'm a freelance writer specializing in blog posts, web content, and press releases for Internet companies. I also love helping aspiring freelance writers build their portfolio and find clients. Download my free ebook 25 Types of Writing Gigs that Pay Well (and How to Find Them) here to get started.

  • So jealous of your trip! Hope you’re having an awesome time 🙂

    Funny, Carol Tice’s post today is along the same lines: 5 Super-Easy Ways Freelance Writers Can Stand Out (http://www.makealivingwriting.com/5-ways-freelance-writers-stand-out/) including “Don’t be a flake.” It’s amazing to me how common I hear it is for writers to miss deadlines and otherwise be unreliable. I just can’t understand why they think that’s ok.

    • Thanks, KeriLynn!

      Definitely agree with Carol. Her post actually reminded me of a piece by Peter Shankman, “Why Most People Are Full of Shit, and How to Not Be One of Them.”

      He pretty much said the same thing: It’s super easy to stand out–just be a decent person and keep your word. And while I think it’s sad that there are so many flakes and unreliable people out there, it’s certainly good news for dependable writers like us. 😉

      Oh, and here’s the post in case you want to read it: http://shankman.com/why-most-people-are-full-of-shit-and-how-to-not-be-one-of-them/

  • When you think about it, these are the traits that help us keep clients coming back for our services. Building a good working relationship takes time and effort. And the “effort” required includes all these – as you said, being dependable and taking the time to really learn their industry and style.

    My clients also love it when I take the initiative to give them ideas for their current and future projects. It’s my way of letting them know that I care for their business as much as I do with mine. These “pro” attitudes will ALWAYS set any freelancer apart and no doubt, clients wouldn’t want to let you go once they have you on board.

    Thanks for this post and I wish you a safe trip Francesca!

    • Thank you, Jovell!

      And good one–my clients love it when I suggest article ideas. It earns us points (initiative + creativity) AND give us more writing opportunities!

  • Have fun on your trip! I spent a couple weeks in Tokyo a few years ago, right around the same time you’ll be going — and it’s during the rainy season, so be prepared to carry an umbrella. You can buy one there, though, so don’t feel like you need to pack one.

    As for suggestions, it really depends on what you like to do. A good portion of my budget for my trip went to plays I was seeing there, so I spent a lot of time just walking around, but that was still a lot of fun. Ueno Park was cool even in the rain, and Akihabara is definitely an interesting place to visit. I was in the Shibuya area a lot, and there’s tons of places for shopping around there. You should also totally try karaoke, if you can.

    If you like Japanese food (one of my absolute favorite things about the country), you should have a great time, haha. Most of my time in Japan has been in Fukuoka, so I don’t have any specific restaurant recommendations for Tokyo, but there’s tons to choose from. And Harajuku (north of Shibuya and within walking distance of Shibuya station, if I’m remembering right) has crepe stands all over the place and they are awesome, if you like crepes and ice cream. And chocolate.

    Sorry I don’t have more suggestions, but if you have any specific questions I can try to answer them for you or point you in the direction of an answer 🙂 Apparently there are city map apps now, including for the train routes, so one of those would probably be a good idea. When I went I took a bilingual city atlas, which was incredibly helpful.

    • Hey Katie!

      These are VERY helpful–thank you so much! Akihabara and Shibuya are on my list. 😉 I just Googled Ueno Park and it looks really interesting. I’ll definitely check it out.

      I appreciate your tip of about the crepes (one of my favorite desserts). I’m looking forward to trying these in Tokyo! 🙂

  • Gustavo Woltmann

    Client relationships are half the battle. The most profitable relationships for everyone involved are the ones that are built over time. Establishing trust is super important.