Pssst …. Wanna Know What Writers Really Think?

Updated December 11, 2011

Doc Sheldon

writers talkWhen I was younger, my sister and I had the babysitting market cornered in our little town. Supply and demand. There were two of us and tons of them; each week we had our pick. I am a bit embarrassed to say that we actually had a rating system.

1)   Pay Rate: Let’s face it, money talks whether you are 13 or 53.

2)   Kids: No brats, enough said. There was one couple with a really obnoxious son and a python. The python got loose on my watch and those parents never saw the inside of another restaurant or movie theatre again! 

3)   TV Channels: Cable was just coming into its own and, if you had it, you got bonus points.

4)   Snack Food: If you consistently had empty cupboards, well, you dropped to the bottom of the list. There were actually people that bought our favorite ice cream, just to keep us happy.

I’ve heard Doc and other folks on the client side mention that good writers are hard to find. And, once found, harder to keep. Really?! Hard to find, maybe. But, keep? While they may not be raiding your fridge, it is relatively easy to keep a good writer happy.

My little sis and I never shared our rating system with the parents, but I am willing to change that policy. I’ll share. In fact, I actually polled my writer friends and here is your little glimpse into their world. If it comes as a shock to you that writers rate clients, I apologize in advance. Not.

1)   Pay Rate: Yup! Still number one. I worked for a top female Realtor who always said, “Price overcomes all obstacles.” Now, she was implying that if your house backs to a busy street, dropping the price low enough will get someone to buy it. In our case, you can get and keep a good writer with a great pay rate. If your writer seems to have too many clients on his/her plate, up the price. If you have a topic that no one wants to write about, up the price. If you need a faster turnaround than normal, up the price. You’ll get what you want.

2)   No brats: Again, I know. This time, however, I am not referring to kids but, rather, to you. The clients. Believe it or not, this is very high on the list that writers use to evaluate clients. We may put your work on the backburner or drop you altogether if you are rude, cranky or just plain not nice. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. It’s a well-known fact that you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar, right? Maybe that doesn’t figure into your business world, but freelance writers left that world, remember?!

3)   Explain Yourself: It seems utterly ridiculous to say this, but give clear instructions. Tell us what your keyword is, who your intended audience is and what the overall purpose of the article is. We do not want to steal your keyword or niche or ideas or backlinking techniques or anything else. Writers need to know the background to help understand what tone and style will work best. The creative juices get flowing and words start to form in our little heads the more information you give us. And, please. If we really wanted to steal your ideas, we’d just Google the article once it was indexed and work backwards from there, right? Not interested. Too many clients lining up.

4)   Customer Service: Everyone knows that there is more than one type of customer. In a sense, writers are one of your internal customers, right?! Are you offering good customer service when you Skype them every 5 minutes about an assignment that they just accepted the previous evening? Are you offering good customer service when you insist on a 24-hour deadline for a 1,000 word article on mesothelioma and factory workers exposed to asbestos in the 1960’s?  Are you offering good customer service when you receive work and then turn around and ask for it to be re-written from a completely different angle, for free, because you misunderstood your client?

5)   Money again: Pay on time. Pay immediately. Pay before the due date. Bug us for an invoice, instead of the other way around. Use PayPal; writers hate people who don’t. And, when you send your PayPal payment, fill in that little message box with a “Thanks for all your hard work” or a simple “You’re awesome”.  When all else fails, send chocolate. OK, that part is just me, but feel free…  

That’s it. Writers are pretty easy to please. If you already do all of the above, great. If not, get to it. In fact, send your favorite writer a little note today. Send an email or drop them a message on Skype and just say, “Hey – have I told you lately that you are great? Glad to have you on my team!” Trust me – you will get bonus points! Big time.


  1. Taking better care of my support crew is on my resolution for 2012. I take care of them, they do a better job for me. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Danielle McGaw says:

    What an awesome article Lisa! I shared it all over the place! 🙂

  3. Jessica Colonell says:

    Love this! Us writers really are a simple bunch to please! I’ll be sharing this around my various corners of the web. 😉

  4. Samantha Gluck says:

    Awesome post! I found it on G+. Danielle shared it and it showed up in my stream. Each point on this list is applicable to pretty much all entrepreneurs. I’m sharing this as well. Thanks!

  5. Ha! I love it! This is all so true.

  6. BacklinkBitch says:

    Thanks, Danielle!

  7. BacklinkBitch says:

    Hey Jessica! And, yes we are. Cash, chocolate and a few nice words – easy! Thanks for stopping by.

  8. BacklinkBitch says:

    Thanks, Samantha and welcome to the Clinic. I owned a small business for 18 years and the same info applies. It is all just common sense, but we have a tendency to forget.

  9. BacklinkBitch says:

    Thanks, Missy! Glad you liked it.

  10. Ha! I Love it… especially the no brats.

  11. You are so right to up the price for the writer to get what you want!!!

  12. BacklinkBitch says:

    You get what you pay for, right?! Thanks for stopping by.

  13. BacklinkBitch says:

    Thanks, Gabriella. My fellow writers sure had some horror stories!

  14. So true, Jim. At the end of the day, you get what you give, after all! Take care of your crew and they’ll take care of you.

  15. Robin Jennings @creative web design says:

    Rock solid advice- especially about paying quickly. There’s nothing than keeps the harmony in a relationship like doing what you say, when you say it (like paying on time).

  16. Yep! There’s that pesky Golden Rule again. 😉