The 3 Questions Ghostwriters Need to ask Prospects to Know if They’re a Fit
With demand for ghostwriters on the rise, thanks to marketers’ unrelenting reliance on content, many writers are finding plenty of opportunities to work. Eager to get past the feast-or-famine lifestyle that freelance writers frequently contend with, many jump at opportunities before considering whether those clients are truly a good fit for their business and interests.
When clients are not a fit, it’s easy to get bogged down with writing assignments that are big time sucks, in an area you’re not familiar with, and paying peanuts. And once you’re overloaded with such low-paying work, it’s hard to break out of the cycle.
Fit is the difference between enjoying the work you’re doing and being paid fairly and the aforementioned dissatisfaction with topic, pace, and pay. Fortunately, there is a way to assess fit early on.
The three questions you need answered in order to judge client fit have to do with budget, background, and expectations.
Before you commit to spending too much time on a phone call or Zoom meeting with a prospect, find out all you can about their budget. What are they expecting to pay you for your work?
You need this information so that you can decide if you want it.
For example, a client who wants to pay $100 for a 1,000-word blog post requiring multiple interviews and several hours of work isn’t a fit for a writer whose minimum fee for such a post is $500.
Or a client who wants a 60,000-word memoir ghostwritten and has set aside $5,000 for the task is not a fit for a ghost whose minimum fee is $20,000.
You can potentially save hours of time by getting to the money question quickly. If you ask about budget and get a question in response about your rates, throw out a minimum or a range that you’ve charged for similar work. If the prospect indicates that figure is within their budget, continue to gather information so that you can provide an official quote for the work they need done.
Once you know that the work being discussed offers pay that is acceptable, it’s time to evaluate whether the work fits your interests and experience.
If you’re a romance writer and the client needs help with a technical white paper, which you’ve never done, there may not be a fit. Or, conversely, if you’re a technical writer and a prospect wants to write a memoir, your skills may not be aligned with the task at-hand.
Getting clear about your skills and abilities is an important first step here. What have you written in the past and what would you like to write in the future?
Just as important are your areas of interest. If you’ve written so many business books that you’re sick of them, don’t take any more on. Instead, look for projects that play to topics you’re passionate about or interested in.
Answers to those questions will allow you to quickly qualify prospects as they come in.
Finally, you’ll want to understand what the prospect expects in terms of work process, deliverables, and deadline.
How do you prefer to work? What does your process look like? Will that work for this client and project?
In what form does the prospect want the writing delivered and are you comfortable with that? For example, does the client need a blog post, a speech, a video script, a white paper, or a book? Have you created similar documents?
And when do they need the work done? Can you meet their schedule and deadline? For example, a client who needs a book produced by the end of the year may seem very reasonable when you’re speaking to them in February. However, if you are speaking with the client in September and their deadline for completion in December, you may or may not want the work.
The clearer you can be in your own mind, based on the type of ghostwriting work you want to be doing, the easier it will be to assess client fit and to avoid projects that don’t feed your bank account or your curiosity. And while all writers fear turning down paying work, lest it be the last assignment they’re ever offered, demand for ghostwriting makes that scenario less and less likely.
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