What do you do when a client doesn’t like your work?
So, you have put your all into this project and are truly confident that you smashed it. Now, you are sitting at your laptop or phone in hand expecting that rosy feedback that makes you feel on top of the world.
Here comes your much-awaited notification and very much-expected feedback.
But alas, it wasn’t so positive after all.
Your client is not just feeling your work.
Nah! he or she is not pleased at all.
How do you handle this disappointment?
What do you do when a client doesn’t like your work?
This topic is every or let’s rather say most freelance writers nightmare especially if you are a newbie. I am putting out this post because I had another experience lately.
It’s inevitable and yes it will happen more than once in your career lifetime. Best believe you have little control over how a client receives your content.
As a saying goes, ‘writing is an art’. Art is open to individual interpretation and personal appreciation.
In as much as we are different in behaviour, background, social inclination etc, that’s how differently we also perceive art, in this case, writing.
Your copy or content may not seat well with a certain client, this does not in any way mean that your work is trash.
In fact, that same copy which a client rejected may gain a 5 start from another client.
However, the question here is what do you do when the client doesn’t like the content/copy you delivered?
There are certain things you can do depending on the situation and the reaction of the client.
What you should do when a client doesn’t like your work
1. Don’t take rejection or criticism personally
This is the first thing that is likely to happen to you once you see that rejection email or low star rating.
You begin to ask your self questions upon questions such as:
- Am I not as good as I thought in this craft?
- Is my talent dwindling?
- Am I not professional enough?
- Am I a scam?
You see this last question, that is imposter syndrome creeping up on you.
First, don’t be discouraged– just as everyone can’t get along in personal life so also you can’t make everyone happy at work all the time even if you try.
Criticism or rejection happens or has happened to the best of writers. And guess what, brace yourself because it will happen again.
As humans, we dread the word ‘no’, rejection, criticism and whatever else looks and smells like these words.
Negative feedback is hard to deal with. It can dampen your morale if not handled consciously and with care.
If you come to understand that when a client doesn’t like your work, you are still going to be a badass asset to another client, then you are off to a great start in warding off job-related depression.
You should also try to boost your morale and bring up your spirit when you feel down with negative feedback.
You can do this by going back to previously successful projects that you have completed.
- Consider reviewing positive feedbacks from past clients.
- Check how much your skill has earned you over time.
- Look back on praises you garnered from articles that have been shared on social media or featured posts.
Looking back at all your achievements work-wise is a way to pick you back up.
This will probably awaken you to the realization of how far you’ve come with your ability in writing value-driven content.
Therefore, tracking and keeping a record of all your wins is something you perhaps shouldn’t take for granted.
2. Ask questions
Clients usually have particular ideas for their projects, and maybe the finished work just didn’t meet that expectation and so they hated it.
When a client doesn’t like your work and gets back to you on their concerns, you do not just jump into a revision on the project or assignment in question.
First, there is already a misunderstanding somewhere and clarification is required.
You should begin by asking questions because as you know it will be a huge waste of you and your clients time trying to solve an unidentified problem.
It doesn’t matter if you have asked such questions at the beginning of the project.
Clearly, someone didn’t respond to your initial questions with clarity or sufficient understanding was lacking on your part. Or maybe the deliverable isn’t explicitly explained.
Ask as many questions to help you identify the specific problem.
Some questions you can ask the client are;
- What parts of the project he or she is not happy with?
- Should you do a complete rewrite or just part? (ask what parts too).
- Do they have examples similar to the project on which you’re working?
- What does he or she have in mind?
The most effective method to remedy the rejection of projects from writing clients or any client at all is proper and respectful communication.
When a client sees that you are proactive and really care about their satisfaction and wanting to fix the problems, their mind eases.
This will in turn probably build a stronger work relationship between you and the client.
3. Seek similar assignments
Another way to handle things when a client doesn’t like your work is to research similar examples to the project on which you’re working.
For instance, if you’re writing a resume or cover letter for an entry-level professional chef, find other, similar resumes online to help you decide the kind of industry vocabulary suited for this assignment.
It’s okay to do research and get some inspiration here and there. This is as long as you don’t copy and paste someone’s work.
Definitely, you should avoid plagiarism.
Whenever you aren’t sure about how you should word or write a particular piece, look for similar sample projects for guidance.
Sure, seeking and getting inspiration from others may not address all the problems but it could offer a good start at righting your wrongs.
4. Offer resolution
Your goal at the end of each project you take on is to leave the client happy.
This requires that you must have discussed and fixed any issues that the client might have raised.
Remember that a happy client means potential future work, as well as referrals to other businesses.
When your clients disagree with your work, then you give suggestions and opinion as an expert and he doesn’t heed, do not push.
Remember, it’s their money, their business. It is ultimately about the client’s preferences, not yours.
That’s why you are being paid.
On client request, I have re-written a lovely piece (or so I thought) into boring. As long as the client has made his choices, I’ll adjust the work to meet most of their specifications.
However, I may not include it in my portfolio pieces.
There are a few ways that a resolution can go.
You could revise the copy either for free or ask for extra charges.
If the revision request still falls in line with the initial order or assignment then you should consider doing it at no extra charges.
However, if the revision totally deviates from the original project through no fault of yours, then you should charge an extra fee to revise the work.
There’s another way to resolve issues when a client doesn’t like your work.
And this doesn’t involve revisions.
Some clients may never get satisfied even with 100 revisions. It may be because they have pictured a certain expectation in their minds.
It could also mean you do not understand their brief and are therefore not delivering as expected. Sometimes things just don’t work out.
This may be the time to part ways. Yes, you heard right.
Other times it may be that your level of skill and what a client is looking to get don’t align.
Let me give you an instance when you should consider parting ways when a client doesn’t like your work.
Picture this scenario: You submitted a finished job and the client says, “This piece is poorly written. This isn’t what I was expecting. I will have to find another writer.”
At this point, you may not be able to turn things around for the better.
In my experience and from that of other writers, there’s little you can do (during revision) to please this client or change his mind.
The best approach is to let him or her go.
From personal statistics, if five clients reject the totality of my work and wanted to try the services of another content writer, then I go ahead to plead, insisting that they give me a chance to make amends, I usually succeed in making 1 client happy.
The remaining 4 will take you to the pit of endless editing purgatory and eventual cancellation.
This analysis just explains that most of these kinds of revisions are usually a lost cause at this point.
5. Check within
When a client doesn’t like your work, you may need to check if it’s something you did or didn’t do.
Granted, a client rejecting your copy or content may not necessarily make it twaddle.
Nevertheless, this is one of those times that may call for a personal skill audit and self-assessment.
This means you should identify your skill gaps and assess your level of expertise. Identify and focus on what areas need to be developed.
This could be communication, grammar, spelling errors, incorrect tone or maybe your research skills.
You should take out the time to re-evaluate your skill, writing technique, tone, attention to small details and quality of your writing.
It’s a given that we all make mistakes, blunders even fallacies-whatever you want to call it.
However, you must learn from those mistakes and make changes that will hamper a recurrence or at least reduce the possibility.
That’s the wise thing to do.
When a client doesn’t like your work, first thing is to not feel like you’ve just been punched in the gut.
It’s not personal.
You will get negative feedback now and again especially on a first draft.
But, you need to realize that each negative statement is just a teeny weeny cross on your journey to success.
Obviously, there’s also the need to manage clients’ expectations.
Some clients may expect that your first draft will be sterling. However, if you have been freelancing for a while, you’d realise that it’s not going to always be the case.
You must let the client know that revisions are a part of the work.
The easy way to handle probable client dissatisfaction and let clients know that first drafts are not always perfect is to let them in on your revision policy before-hand.
You should do this at the negotiation phase. This way, everyone is on the same page as to what the rules are.
Putting up and adhering to your revision policies may not outrightly prevent unhappiness for you or the client.
Still, at the least, they draw clear boundaries, ensure you do not overwork your pay and protect you from potential work abuse.
For example, when I am assigned a new project by my clients, I generally include three rounds of revisions on a per-project basis.
If the client wants more editing than that, they have to pay me a fee which I already set in my revision policy/contract.
To be honest with you, I seldom charge that extra fee even after the third revision.
Plus, I give like one more as grace period, just to ensure total satisfaction and that glowing review.
Nevertheless, if the client keeps going and is past the fourth revision, then you may need to whip up the extra charge to either deter them from more revisions or pay you for the next.