Writers Behaving Badly

Bad behaviors are everywhere. Just glance at the magazine rack the next time you’re standing in the supermarket check-out line. But while movie stars and teenaged musicians might get away with behaving badly, freelance medical writers risk ruining their businesses if they engage in bad behaviors. Here’s our top 10 list of bad behaviors to avoid.

1.  Not meeting deadlines. At the top of our list, failing to meet deadlines is, in our opinion, one of the top reasons clients won’t give you repeat work.

2.  Invoicing for more than the agreed-upon price. Clients never like surprises. Failing to estimate a project accurately is your problem, not the client’s. Suck it up and do a better job estimating the next time.

3.  Charging too little. If you’re working relentlessly and still can’t pay your bills, you’re charging too little. Consider your value and raise your rates.

4.  Avoiding clients’ calls and emails. Do we even need to say this? Communicate promptly with every client, every time.

5.  Missing the target audience or message. No writer ever wants to miss the mark. Ask questions at the beginning of each project so that you are clear about its purpose, how it will be used, and the key message or messages the client wants to convey.

6.  Delivering a project riddled with grammatical and spelling errors. Sure, everybody makes mistakes, and that’s why you should ALWAYS proof and edit your work before sending it to the client.

7.  Making excuses for inaccurate or inferior work. If you screwed up, own it. Don’t make excuses, ever.

8.  Being inflexible. If you’ve been in this business for a while, you know that projects often zig and zag and take unexpected turns. Clients want–and need–you to be flexible, even when they aren’t.

9.   Using poor social-media judgment. Don’t kid yourself. Prospective clients will check out your online profiles before approaching you with a project. A good rule of thumb: don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your mother–or your kids–to see.

10.  Whining about making revisions. We’ve never met a writer who was so good that he or she didn’t have to make revisions. It comes with the territory. Always ask your client before you estimate how many revisions to plan for, then estimate accordingly.

Remember, the key to being successful in this business—heck, in any business, for that matter—is customer satisfaction. To satisfy clients follow the Q+C+D formula, where Q is quality, the combination of high performance and reliability; C is cost, that is, providing outstanding value at every price point; and D is quick delivery for every client. If you follow this formula, avoiding bad behaviors will be easy, and you’ll be on your way to success.