Thursday, December 4, 2008


I met with my client yesterday to figure out how we could resolve some of the issues we're having, namely that we aren't getting much accomplished. We had an extremely productive meeting and came up with a lot of ideas for how we could start getting more done. The immediate result was that I was able to finish a project yesterday afternoon that I've been sitting on for a while and will be able to send out an invoice for it in the next couple of days. It will be a larger paycheck than any I've received so far. That, in and of itself, is success.

It continues to surprise me how many lessons I am learning each day in my freelance writing adventures. The most significant things I learned from this experience are to speak up when something is not working and to look for innovative ways of dealing with people who have different styles and situations.

When I worked at my day job, I had to constantly pester people for copy. They were always missing deadlines, and though I tried to be nice about it, I felt well within my rights to continually nag them until I got what I needed. When you're a contract worker and your contact is one of the owners of the business, the situation is a little more delicate. I had a problem with getting what I needed from my contact and reminded him periodically when I didn't get something, but I didn't really feel like I could put a lot of pressure on him. After all, he knew the consequences if something didn't get done, and for the most part, the consequences affected him more than they affected me. (Although, if I don't get work done, I don't get paid.)

Earlier this week, I sent him what I thought was a fairly diplomatic e-mail, stating that I didn't think we were getting a lot accomplished and I wanted to discuss how we could work better together. He called me and was very receptive to the idea. He agreed that we were treading water and took responsibility for his part in it. And then we discovered something. Right or wrong, he admitted that if something wasn't on his schedule, he probably wouldn't get to it. Now I'm sure this is not true across the board—I can't imagine he wouldn't answer an e-mail from a client who is bringing in money, but my e-mails and phone calls were falling by the wayside because he didn't have time scheduled to deal with them.

What we came up with was a recurring, weekly virtual meeting. Now I know that each week, that time slot is mine. If I need any feedback or clarification from him on something, I can get it at that meeting. That's not to say that I can't e-mail or call him in the interim if I have a question, but I know I won't have to wait weeks to get a response from him. I'm confident this will remove a lot of the impediments.

The takeaway from this is that I'm going to have to learn to work differently with different people. Ultimately, I think I want the same thing my client wants, we just need to think creatively to make sure it gets done.

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