by Laura Garwood Meehan

Recently somebody shared an article listing ten ways to be a “bad” freelancing client. I’ve seen a lot of these at this point, everything from comics about customers making it hard to design websites to articles providing tips on dealing with unprincipled writing clients.

Once we at Indigo got to discussing it, we started sharing stories and realized that the vast majority of our clients have been good clients, even amazing clients. I’m going to share some of the traits our wonderful clients have as an exercise in our collective gratitude.

1. A Sense of What’s Realistic: My heart sinks when I open emails that make me feel like I’m being asked to guarantee something I can’t guarantee. We love to feel like our clients see us as human beings, good at what we do but still constrained by the time-space continuum like everyone else. Some of our clients have prefaced their requests with phrases like, “Is there any chance you’d also be able to…?” and then it’s often followed by something doable. We always want to do what you want us to do, and when you are ready to negotiate and collaborate on realistic goals, it greatly increases the chances that we can.

2. Appreciation: We love getting thank-you notes! One of my clients always compliments my work, tells my coworkers she appreciates me, and sends me handwritten cards. Needless to say, she has won my heart. Another client takes every opportunity she can to tell me I’m a genius. Some clients even send us tips. We all love what we do and usually enjoy it, but we have bad days just like other people. Hearing that someone thinks you really helped him has the power to turn those around.

3. Professionalism: We also love to hear that you take your own writing seriously. If you show up having done your research and ready to hire an editor because you understand why it’s important, we start off reassured that we’ll both enjoy the revision process as a necessary part of making a writing project better. Some of my clients seem downright excited to receive my suggestions. We all know writing and revision can be tough. But if you are committed to your project and committed to our collaboration, our relationship and the solid foundation make the work lighter.

4. Flexibility: When my clients say there is no rush, I feel a weight come off my shoulders. In an industry where there are often time crunches, having the ability to move projects around can make entire months better. Not everyone can offer the gift of extra time, but when you can, you can make your freelancing partner’s life a lot easier.

5. Reliability: Both clients and editors thrive when they are communicating. If it’s going to take me longer than I thought to get started on your project, I will tell you that right away. If clients let me know they are not going to be ready for editing when they thought they were, it helps me balance the rest of my workload. When clients pay their bills promptly, it also takes a lot of stress off my shoulders. Being a freelancer is stressful, and it requires careful balancing and even juggling acts.

In short, we feel blessed to have our clients, many of whom have turned into long-term professional relationships. We love collaborating with you, and so often you make it even more fun too.

Laura GarwoodLaura Garwood Meehan has been known to send thank-you notes for thank-you notes. She’s been freelance editing books of assorted genres since 2006, and she has never failed to notice when a client pays on time—or not on time. She lives in Sacramento in a small zoo, home to her three children, dog, and many cats. She blogs about her family adventures at Short-Winded.