How to Make a Better Clientscape
|Title explanation: If a landscape is the land around you, your friendscape is what you see when you look out at your friends, and your clientscape is what you see, as a freelancer, when you look at the array of your clients. Remember, the way we see ourselves is in the mirror of the people around us… if you don’t think much of yourself, maybe you need to change the people around you.
You can change your landscape view by changing your location, narrowing your focus, enjoying the sky, or looking out a different window. You can improve your friend group by making wise choices, culls, and boundaries. Likewise, you can adapt your clientscape to please you with wise choices, culls, and boundaries to let other better work float in. You deserve the best. Surround yourself with the best, and keep them there by being happy and doing good work and living well.
On our Copyediting-L email group through the University of Indiana, someone asked the following question, which elicited a number of responses:
“Does anyone have any general ideas on how to do proper intel and to “screen for pay,” so I’m more strategic in my client hunting?”
I’ve been on social media with editors and translators for more than 20 years now, and I know there is a frequently recurring conversation about low-paying, slow-paying clients. Some people have a general impression it’s getting worse for a variety of reasons. Even if that general case might be true, it doesn’t need to be your reality. You can make a decent and even good living in our profession.
Should I post my rates?
I’ve gone back and forth about whether to post my rates online. At the moment, I mostly don’t. I will share one interesting discovery: I recently became “Bedwin & Associates” instead of just myself, and along the way my rates have jumped quite a bit because one of my associates is very shiny so I find it easy to say to new clients “Well, my associate prefers $x/hour. Does that work for you?” and then, cha-ching, there I am, also earning that rate.
After two rate jumps in that way in the past two years, I’m earning more than one and a half times what my top rate was before (but still not quite up to what my associate usually charges!). This caused me to go back to the favorite long-term clients, who I had been keeping on my lowest rate of $60/hr for many years, and say “I’m increasing my rate by $20/hr.” You know what happened? My rate increase just resulted in a flood of compliments and more work from the client, not less!
Likewise, I insisted I was going to take real time off, actually away from the internet last summer, so I offered those same clients some of my associates’ contacts… every single one of them said “we’ll wait for you” instead of trying my friends. Lesson learned: be valuable… but then also, learn to trust in and accept the fact that you are valued. Good relationships consist of receiving as well as giving, even client relationships.
Attitude: being meticulous with your speech
Anyway, what I really came here to say is that there’s a one-hour listen on YouTube by Louise Hay called Receiving Prosperity. I’ve listened to it about forty or fifty times, and it totally dug me out of a deep, dark hole by teaching me to shift my perspective. I can’t recommend it enough.
Some people would have us believe it is cool to be self-effacing, to talk all the time like we don’t care about anything, to be disparaging, sarcastic, and negative. Nobody who wants you to succeed wants to hear you put yourself down. Nobody who loves you and believes in you wants you to undercharge (though they may tell you that you “have to” accept less because they have been taught to see the world fearfully… Forgive them for their limiting beliefs, love them anyway, and then stop listening to that and rise above it!)
That, plus other teachings, really showed me that we get what we say we will get. If you say “I have all the time and all the money I need to do what I want and need to do,” then you do. If you say “I find it difficult to find good clients,” then it is.
I know, it seems unfair and new-age and airy fairy, but it’s true, and various writers and success gurus have been saying it for more than a century.
Actually take the time to sit down every day with a pen and paper, and write things like:
- “I love my clients.”
- “I am well-respected in what I earn.”
- “I love what I edit and the relationships I have with my clients.”
- “Everything is always working out for me.”
Once you sit down and force yourself to write just three things down, you will usually find that the list grows, and grows. Try it for a month and see what happens.
About fifteen years ago, I was in a deep depression when I started these exercises, sitting down to write the good life into existence. I was totally faking it. All I truly had was “well, I like my hair,” and “I am loved,” (and I meant by my cat). But I did it. I faked, at least in writing, that my life was good instead of focusing on the negatives. At some point I started to believe in the positive things I was writing, and then they started to manifest.
A procedure note: we all need to complain some times. Try to keep your complaining to orally only, and limit it. Be conscious of forcing yourself to talk about positive things at least some percentage of every day, every conversation. And when you write your lists, only write down the positive things, as if they already exist, even if they only exist in tiny particles. Write the good.
I know many cynics will say this is hocus-pocus. Of course, there are many other shiny, happy, wealthy people who say it works. You choose. J
Be discerning: cull the chaff
It may seem new age, but it’s practical advice. As many have said over the years, ditch the bad clients, and it makes room for better ones. Stressful people, complainers, bad vibes, want a discount, argue with your edits, pay slowly—these aspects all come together in the same editing clients over and over.
Let the ones go who make you feel stressed. Despite the promise that they bring a little money, they’re really sandbags holding down your success. I have learned this by making this mistake over and over—even recently. When you finally cut the cord and float away from them, gosh, it feels good. And better clients float right in. They really do.
I actually followed my own advice soon after writing this post. After I summarily dismissed a big client organization that was being stingy and demanding, I felt great! My stress was less, and overall, despite their size and promises, it really wasn’t a lot of money to let go. And before twenty-four hours had passed, a favorite client whose work was more in my field had written to ask if he could send me a few thousand dollars ahead of time. See? It was much more than the Big Organization was offering, and with much more friendliness and respect, and less hassle!
Here’s a short list of shiny thought leaders I am aware of. All of these authors basically say the same thing: Ask and it is given. Believe and it will come. Be impeccably positive with your words.
- Louise Hay: “Receiving Prosperity,” (video), You Can Heal Your Life (book, 1984), and many other videoclips and publications
- Esther Abraham-Hicks: Ask and It Is Given (book, 2004), YouTube: hundreds of clips of her answering questions in workshops over the past three decades. Type in whichever topic troubles you at any given moment and there’s something there.
Louise Hay says: “One of the most valuable things about Ask and It Is Given is that Abraham gives us 22 different powerful processes to achieve our goals. No matter where we are, there’s a process that can make our lives better.”
- Rhonda Byrne: The Secret books and videos (2006) are a sort of main-stream modern interpretation of Abraham-Hicks’ work; you may find her language easier to digest for a starting point.
- Dale Carnegie: How to Stop Worrying and Start Living is another book that can seriously transform your perspective and is full of excellent procedures (book, 1948). Also check out his even more popular book How to Win Friends and Influence People (book, 1936, still being republished every year!).
- Florence Scovel Shinn: The Game of Life and How to Play It (book, 1925, audiobook free on YouTube)
She expressed her philosophy as: “The invisible forces are ever working for man who is always ‘pulling the strings’ himself, though he does not know it. Owing to the vibratory power of words, whatever man voices, he begins to attract.”
There are many other Law of Attraction speakers, who all present the same basic ideas in their own voices. Try Joe Dispenza, Wayne Dyer, Tony Robbins, Neville Goddard. Check them all out and see which one suits you best!
This blog post was edited by Victoria Chavez-Kruse of The Savvy Newcomer team.
Christa Bedwin grew up in the Rocky Mountains and has 25 years of experience editing for engineers, scientists, educational and trade publishers, industry, government, and academia, especially in chemistry, engineering, and the environment.
She also teaches technical writing to professional engineers and scientists in Canada and internationally, teaches yoga & meditation, travels the world, volunteers on farms, and writes novels. Feel free to connect or write to her on LinkedIn!