Lessons Learned: Why I Fired My Best Writer

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I found him on Peopleperhour. He wasn’t brilliant, but he would do since I couldn’t afford a top notch writer.

Let’s call him Tim.

Because I was pleased with his work and that he delivered the work on time, I used Tim to for a few other projects.

And then for a long time, months and months, my business was doing so badly that I couldn’t give him any work. Any work that came my way, I needed to do myself.

He would contact me, asking me if I didn’t have a job for him, and I would always reply, “so sorry, no I don’t.”

When I eventually started experiencing growth in my freelance writing business, I started passing on a lot of work to Tim, who I very much enjoyed working with.

We started building a good relationship, and I was relieved I could hand over the more technical jobs to him which he would do with ease.

By this time, Tim had really improved his writing skills. In the one year I had known him, he was writing remarkably well, and I was thrilled.

After a long dry spell of not being able to give him any work, I was now pouring jobs into his lap, one after the other, so much so that he would tell me, “let me just complete this project before you give me another!” It was ironic. And it was wonderful.

The only problem was that sometimes he lagged and I would need to push him. Since we had some pretty hectic deadlines, and the content he was writing was quite difficult, requiring a great amount of research, I put it down to that, and let it slide.

But I found myself needing to push him on every job, and once I even missed a client’s deadline because he had not delivered on time for me to make the final edits. I addressed it with him, he was sorry about it, and we moved on.

Until the next job. And again, I needed to push him. He became continually late delivering the jobs. Luckily I am a planner and made his due dates earlier in order to accommodate his lateness, but pretty soon, I learned that my life was going to turn into one giant stressball if this kept on.

I had a choice to make. Either keep him on, keep pushing him and knowing that everytime I gave him a job, I was putting my reputation on the line, because I could not depend on him to send the work on time, or fire him.

I chose to save myself and fire him.

It was a sad day, but it taught me that no matter how good a writer is, if their clients can’t rely on them to deliver on time, their writing skills are useless.

By the time I let him go, I had started dealing with other freelance writers, which taught me some things that you as a freelance writer, can learn from:

  1. No matter how good your writing skills are, if you don’t provide good service to your clients, your writing skills become null and void. I would rather have a writer that is not as skilled, but is reliable, than a writer who has exceptional writing ability but can’t be trusted.
  2. Check your mindset. I keep punting it, but few writers take notice of it. Your mindset can set you up for failure.
  3. Most writers let their egos get in the way. They refuse to be teachable and to learn. They choose rather to assign blame to the client than to consider their own faults and grow.
  4. Most people can’t keep up with the pace of working hard. They can do it for a spell, but after a while, they start letting go and stop working hard, not realising that one day they will reap the rewards, if they can just keep going.
  5. People, and even writers, do not put themselves in their client’s shoes. They don’t provide updates, or consider the client’s needs. They don’t do everything in their power to make it easy for clients to do business with them. My business relies on reliability and quality. Mess with those two areas and I will be out of business super fast. I cannot afford to keep writers on who don’t meet my high, but reasonable standards.
  6. They don’t treat their services as a business, and they don’t take responsibility for their faults.
  7. Writers often think they know it all, when they actually know nothing.
  8. Don’t take advantage of clients who are good to you. Never mistake their kindness to you as weakness. Never allow quality – of your work or your service – to slip just because you think they will let it pass. It will bite you in the butt.
Posted by Claire Carradice

Claire Carradice is a freelance writer specialising in SEO blog posts and case studies for the digital marketing, business, SEO and HR/recruitment industries. She coaches fellow freelance writers to market themselves better and build strong businesses around content.

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