A Failure to Communicate – Why I Got Fired as a Staff Writer

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Just when I thought things were going well as a freelance writer, I got “let go” from one of my staff writing positions earlier this month. This is certainly a setback for my short term earnings potential as a freelance writer. Instead of earning over $200 this month, I am now estimating about $125 in freelance income from staff writing.

While this temporary setback may hurt a little in the short term, I am more than determined to keep at it. I still have a goal to be making at least $500 per month in freelance writing income by the end of this year.

Here’s a recap of why I was let go and what I am learning from all of it.

What Happened?

The problem came down to poor communication between me and the client. After my first staff writer article was published for this client, it seemed to be very well received by long time readers of the site. The article got a few positive comments and the client seemed pleased with the work.

When I wrote my second article, things fell apart. I submitted the first draft and it was sent back to me with some positive comments questioning the intent of the article.

I took some time to regroup and reworked the entire draft and sent it back for another review. Unfortunately, this time I was notified by my client that while my efforts were appreciated, I was probably not a good fit for the site.

Ouch!

Those comments kind of stung at first to be honest. I had poured in 4 to 5 hours to the article to try and get it just right. My hourly rate for that article was already well below minimum wage, and it didn’t even get published.

I knew the content I was writing about very well. It just wasn’t what the client had envisioned.

I certainly was not mad at the client but was left wondering – what just happened? We went from a very positive experience with the first article to being let go on the second.

Lessons Learned

Nobody likes failure or rejection – including me. I was a little disappointed at first with this failed venture. Even if it wasn’t a good fit between me and the client, I really didn’t like being let go.

After this incident, I could have taken the easy road and given up on building my freelance business. That would certainly have been easy and saved me a lot of time in my day.

I am not going to take that approach. I will move on and use this as a learning experience for future clients.

Here are a couple of the lessons learned I can take away from all of this. These lessons learned can be used when working with future freelance clients.

  • Communication – My client and I did not communicate very well. I am not sure who is to blame but our communication was poor. In the future, I plan to do whatever it takes to better communicate with potential clients.
  • Not a Good Fit – In the end, writing for this client was probably not a good fit for either one of us. For some reason, I seemed too focused on getting the articles just right. Instead of writing from my own words I was trying to write in my clients words.
  • Time Management – I spent way too much time writing the 2 articles for this client. While I was trying to make a great first impression with my client, my second article was taking way too much time to write. I need to become much more efficient with my time or else I won’t last long as a freelance writer.

Final Thoughts

I appreciate the opportunity I was given by my former client as a staff writer. Even though things didn’t work out, I learned several lessons as a freelance writer.

First, communication between a client and freelancer is crucial. Without good communication, the client and freelancer are both just wasting their valuable time.

Second, I have realized there are times when a client may just not be a good fit. Even if I am writing on topics I have expertise in – you still need to feel comfortable writing for the client.

Finally, time management is such a huge factor as a freelancer. If I were to continue spending the amount of time I did on my second article – I might as well go and get a part-time job instead. In the future, I need to concentrate on writing quality content that is easy for me to write.

Have you ever been fired as a freelancer? What lessons did you learn from the experience?

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writing2reality - March 24, 2014

Ah communication, truly the grease that makes the world go round. Best of luck as you continue to pursue growing your freelance income stream, especially as your process for generating an article is fine-tuned and polished.

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