Blogging 911: Six Tips for a Repairing a Blown-up Relationship

Blowing up a relationship — it’s every blogger’s worst nightmare, and a few months ago, it almost happened to me.

My only steady client sent me a fuming email. She demanded her money back because she claimed I had plagiarized, which was “unethical and… unacceptable.” The worst part: she said, “[I] can no longer accept your article submissions.”

I wasn’t originally given the chance to do a rewrite or explain my side of the story.

I was completely side-swiped.

After all, I’d done an interview with a popular wedding planner on Facebook. I had even sent my editor the transcript, and according to a free online plagiarism checker, my article had 0% non-unique content. (By the way, a 2014 study from Texas Tech found that plagiarism checkers often produce false positives, especially when jargon or “topic phrases” are used. Those checkers can also provide incorrect source links, and score papers inconsistently.)

It turns out I did plagiarize by accident. I’d copied quotes from something I’d read online and inserted them into my piece without proper attribution, so why did my client write this glowing testimonial less than a month later?

Cherese exudes personality in her writing, she consistently expresses innovative tips in a way that our readers love. Cherese has the ability to interview industry experts and summarize their knowledge using language that is easy to understand. Cherese shows incredible professionalism, is always open to feedback and works hard to ensure her posts meet our needs.”

I turned my rocky working relationship around, and you can too.

First of all, take a deep breath. Breathe in. Breathe out.

Are you calm? If not, hide your laptop, phone, or tablet. Yes, I’m serious! Go for a walk, scream into a pillow, eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s (and cry into it), or get down on your knees and say a prayer.

Then pull up your britches and…  [Read more…]

Reverse Scope Creep: How to Break Up With Your Ever-Shrinking Freelance Gig

He’s cheating on you.

You’re doing everything you used to do for him — all those things he said he loved — but he’s pulling away. Oh, sure, he says you’re still the tops and that he never wants to end his relationship with you, but it’s just not the same as it used to be.

But you know he needs what you’d been giving him. Really needs it. So, if he’s not getting it from you, he must be getting it somewhere else…

Sounds like you’re dealing with reverse scope creep!

Reverse scope creep is killing your relationship

“Reverse scope creep” was a term we came up with in the (free!) Be A Freelance Blogger forum to describe a client condition that’s the opposite of the dreaded “scope creep.” Let me show you what I mean:

Scope creep = When a project slowly gets out of control by becoming much, much larger than what you initially agreed to in your contract. Basically when a client continues to ask you to do “just one more thing” and you do, because you’re too nice for your own good.

Reverse scope creep = When your contract promised you a ton of work but now you’re barely doing anything. For instance, you were told you’d be writing (and getting paid for) 3-4 blog posts per month… but now you’re lucky if you get assigned/paid for one blog post every two months. But your client still “really loves” your work and wants you to continue working with them.

It’s an odd situation to find yourself in as a freelance blogger. There’s a chance you haven’t even come across this problem in your career yet. However, there are four main reasons why reverse scope creep crops up…

1. You were too amazing. Yes, that can happen.

You blew your client out of the water and he just doesn’t know what to do with you. Things were finished much sooner than he expected and now he’s feeling flustered. You were too good and he doesn’t know what to do next. Good for you! Let him gather his wits — hopefully in a timely manner — and try to pace yourself next time. 😉

2. You were terrible

He likes you, but the blogging you did for him was sub-par and he doesn’t know how to break it off with you… So, to paraphrase the words of Diana Ross and the Supremes: He’s keeping you “hangin’ on.” This doesn’t seem likely, as BAFB readers almost always turn in amazing work (we love youuuuu), but it’s a possibility.

3. There isn’t any work. Really!

Sometimes a client thinks they’re going to have a lot of blogging work for you and then they just… don’t. It happens! Sadly, there isn’t a “little blue pill” to spark up a client’s desire for blog posts. You’ll either have to wait until they work through this issue on their own, or bag yourself some more active clients.

4. They’re getting it elsewhere

It’s not your fault. Likely, your client decided to get quick — cheap! — action from some other blogger rather than keep getting the quality blog lovin’ they’ve been getting from you. Ugh. Terrible! The worst part? They want to keep you around “just in case” they end up needing that quality blogging you’re known for after all. Nothing like fixing someone else’s mistakes, am I right?

This is the most common reason for reverse scope creep, in my experience. Don’t worry. You’re still the better blogger. (And probably better-looking! Just saying.)

How to escape from a reverse scope creep relationship

Most relationships, professional or otherwise, have to be renegotiated from time-to-time. It’s nothing to be afraid of.

The first step is realizing that reverse scope creep is happening. Depending on how observant you are, and how extreme the waning of activity is, you may not notice it at first. Once you do, take the following steps:

1. Ask your client about it

Your client may not have realized that anything’s changed. Or they may have forgotten the terms of your initial contract — and how things weren’t supposed to change. Talk to them about it. There’s a chance you might be able to get your relationship back to where it was originally. If not, try the next step.

2. Renegotiate

The last time I was in a reverse scope creep situation, I confronted the client and renegotiated my contract. We ended up with a much, much looser agreement — wherein, if I was “available” and “wanted to” I’d write up an article for him every 2 or 3 months on more of a “one-off” basis (rather than an ongoing locked-in contract). This worked out well because I was then able to fill their original spot on my client roster with someone else.

It was incredibly frustrating being a “staff” writer and being forced to save a spot on my weekly schedule “just in case” that happened to be the week he actually needed me. It didn’t make sense to keep turning away work because I “might” have an article to write that week.

In my case, I was dealing with a fledgling editor who was still learning the ropes, including how to handle the freelance bloggers working for him. For me, being honest about my confusion and frustration was key. And we were able to come to a new agreement that worked for both of us.

3. Say goodbye

Sometimes a project just doesn’t work out. Sometimes you and your client love each other, but you both want entirely different things. If that’s the case, then it’s time to say “goodbye.”

Turn in your two weeks’ notice, just as you would at a traditional job, and use those last two weeks to rock your client’s world. Make him miss you once you’re gone!

…and don’t forget to get a testimonial for your freelance blogger website while your client’s still glowing with appreciation. 😉

Have you ever had to deal with reverse scope creep? How did you handle it? Let us know in the comments!

Married to the Job? 5 Tips to Build a Healthy Relationship with Your Blogging Career

Note from Sophie: Guess what? I’m getting married in less than a week! To celebrate, I’ve got something special for you — for more info, read to the end of this post by Alicia Rades.

People make it sound like being married to your career is a bad thing, but I beg to differ.

In our 3 years of marriage and 6 years as a couple, my husband and I have learned a thing or two about maintaining a healthy relationship. I’ve been at my freelance writing career nearly as long, and I’ve found that if you want to enjoy your career, you have to treat it much like you treat your spouse.

If you do that, your relationship with your job can be a positive one.

So maybe you aren’t ready to slip a ring on that finger just yet and say “I do” to the one you love, but if you’ve already committed to a life-long career of freelance blogging, here are a couple of ways to keep that relationship going strong.  [Read more…]

5 Steps to Blog About Your Client’s Good Deeds [Without Coming Across as Insufferably Smug]

We modern humans have very little tolerance for crappy business ethics.

Companies that choose to exploit human labor, ruin the environment, do business with shady suppliers, or adopt creative financial practices pretty much get a death sentence.

And we have one specific entity to thank for that: the internet.

For better or worse, we have a torrent of information available to us 24/7. As with any type of news, business wrong-doing spreads like wildfire; our social media feeds are bursting with the latest corporate scandal within minutes.

Business is changing for the better because we now demand and expect better. And this wouldn’t have happened without the spread of information and transparency made possible by the internet.

OK, great. But what does all this mean for you, a freelance blogger?  [Read more…]

Blogger of Interest: Peter Sandeen of PeterSandeen.com

Back in February 2015, Sophie interviewed Linda Formichelli of The Renegade Writer… but there hasn’t been another featured blogger since then.

I told Sophie she should bring back the “Blogger of Interest” series. She agreed. Then she put me in charge of the whole shebang.

So the series is back, bloggers.

In this installment of “Blogger of Interest,” we’re featuring Peter Sandeen of PeterSandeen.com (neat!).

Peter started blogging as a way to build his business and reputation as a marketing expert. But Peter’s no ordinary online marketing guru; he’s made a name for himself as the go-to guy on value propositions and marketing messages.

In this interview, I talk to Peter about how he started out as a marketing blogger, what value propositions are and why they’re so important, and how freelance bloggers can discover their own value propositions to attract the right kinds of clients. We also discuss how freelancers can figure out their clients’ value propositions to deliver content genuine to their business goals.  [Read more…]

How to Make Money as a Blogger: 7 Ways to “Cash In” on Your Skills

How many blogs do you read every day?

You’re reading a blog right now, so that’s one. Did you check Buzzfeed this morning? That’s two, and the link you followed on Facebook is three, and the New York Times Well section is four, and you can probably get up to 10 without having to think too hard.

All of these blogs need writers, and if you’re interested in becoming a freelance blogger, there are plenty of ways to get your foot in the door and start making money.

Start with these seven ideas, courtesy of The Write Life’s 71 Ways to Make Money as a Freelance Writer (which, full disclosure, I helped write — so I know it’s good). Then pitch your first blog post this afternoon!  [Read more…]

Content Mills vs Content Agencies: How to Get Steady Freelance Writing Work Without Sacrificing Your Self-Respect

On paper, working for a content agency seems like a no-brainer for freelance writers. You get a steady stream of work delivered straight to your inbox, with none of the hassle of prospecting for new clients — right?

In practice, we all know it’s a bit more complicated than that.

There are plenty of content agencies out there that are little more than lipstick-on-a-content-mill-pig. Agencies that are just as ready to take advantage of you as the $5-an-article exploiters we’re all too familiar with.

Are content agencies all bad? Of course not. I run a content agency, so it’d be pretty disingenuous of me to suggest that we’re all scam artists ripping off talented writers!

The key lies in being able to distinguish between the two. What makes one agency a good option for advancing your career, and another no better than the content mills? 

Let’s take a closer look at content agency writing work.  [Read more…]

How to Get Paid When You Blog Internationally: Cash, Cheques, Transfers and Confused Bank Tellers

Writers love to freelance for a number of reasons — you can choose your hours, pick your favourite topics, and wear boxers and t-shirts at least 80% of the time.

For me, this career has mostly been motivated by my two great loves: literature and travel. But it turns out the two don’t go hand-in-hand as easily as you’d hope.

Earning US dollars and UK pounds while spending Mexican pesos sounds pretty ideal, but getting that money into your hands can be an absolute nightmare.

I’m a Canadian freelance writer, currently based in Mexico. Because most of my work is done for US, UK and Canadian clients, I’ve had to juggle all kinds of payment methods to make this business work for me.

Sometimes it’s like trying to extract money from an old shoe; other times I have to barter. For example:

“Okay, I’ll agree to rework the English side of your web site, but only if you build a big carpeted cat house for me as payment!”

“Okay, deal. What colour?”

When all the moons align, getting paid on the go is the best thing in the world. If you’re in search of a solution to the international payment issue, read on for an explanation of the most commonly used payment methods.  [Read more…]

Freelance Blogger Moonlighting: How to Handle Working AND Blogging Full-Time

You know that feeling when you have so much to do that you end up suffering from total paralysis?

You have deadlines to meet and yet, you end up giving yourself a telling off for being drawn to checking Facebook instead of working.

Frustrating, isn’t it?

So you try to make a plan. You might write lists, set up reminders on your phone, add more reminders about your reminders, categorise and colour-code your lists. Plus, how about downloading that really useful app that helps you do all of the above?

Now imagine that, instead of checking Facebook, you check your calendar and find you can fit in a quick pitch during your lunch break. It’s all about control and organisation. [Read more…]