9 Key Things Every Freelance Client Want In a Writer

by Mercy Mmbone

Things Every Freelance Client Want In a Writer


Let me guess, you’ve pitched for countless freelance writing gigs, but you haven’t landed any.

Or if you have landed some, you just can’t seem to impress or keep your clients.

In your mind, you are doing your best. Therefore, you are struggling to understand why things are not working for you.

Other writers appear to be doing fine.

You hear of freelancers making $10,000 in a month while you make $3 an article.

You’re now having serious doubts whether you’re even cut out for it.

These are thoughts that many freelance writers wrestle with at points in their careers.

But if you think competition is hard at the moment, think again.

A 2016 survey revealed that freelancers accounted for 35% of the American workforce. By 2020, this figure is expected to be 40% according to a separate study.

This can only mean one thing — an even wider pool of writers for clients.

If you can’t make it now as a freelance writer, your goose is cooked.

Perhaps what you need is to get inside the mind of a typical client and understand what they want to see in their ideal freelance writer.

Here are key things I’ve discovered every freelance client want and tips on what you should do to ensure gigs and paychecks keep flowing.


1. Online portfolio

You won’t be disqualified from a freelance writing job because you don’t have a blog but having one will sell you better.

The difference between a freelance writer with a blog and one without is like the difference between a professional in a tie and suit, and one in a t-shirt and jeans.

This small difference can have a powerful effect.

Potential clients usually request freelance writers to provide relevant samples of their work as they seek to identify the best writer to work with.

Tell me what is better: providing a potential client with a link to your blog or attaching a sample that a potential client can’t verify its authorship.

Moreover, an online portfolio provides a convenient centralized location for clients to see all your content. An example of a great portfolio looks something like that of Jennifer Goforth Gregory’s online portfolio.

Yes, you can get clients without a blog. But, if you want to attract serious clients you need to create a blog and publish regular content.

The alternative is to seek a guest-blogging opportunity in a reputable website.


2. Freelance clients want confident writers

Confidence is not a mere motivational tip. It literally produces hard cash.

A two-year study by Tupperware Brands and Georgetown University showed the link between confidence and higher revenue. In the study, greater confidence resulted in 22% higher sales, besides various other benefits.


Freelance clients want confidence


A client wants to work with a writer who seems to know what they are doing. And this trait needs to come out right off the bat.

If a client gets the impression that you don’t believe in yourself, just forget about the job.

Even if confidence is not your strongest quality, fake it until you feel it.

Show confident in how you pitch for a gig. Let confidence ooze from your application letters, email conversations, and interviews. However, do not come across as arrogant.

And when you get a job, quit using phrases like “I think” or “I’ll try.” You’ll give your clients serious doubts whether they gave the job to the right person. Instead, be assertive. Say “I’m confident I can.”

Moreover, don’t hesitate to make suggestions to your client (of course in a friendly way) especially when you feel they need guidance to figure out what they need.

For instance, I meet clients who want something done, but from where I stand, they seem unsure of what they really want. I don’t dive straight into negotiations for pay. Instead, I seek to understand them and suggest ideas that I deem will best fit their needs. More often than not, they are impressed, and I gain their confidence.

In case a client that you’ve worked with before offers you a project in an area that you are not familiar with, it is better to confess right away that you can’t handle it than tell a lie, do a poor job, lose their confidence, and ultimately lose them.


3. Competence

Confidence will win you clients but what keeps them is what you deliver.

”Am I getting my penny’s worth? Did the writer fulfill my idea?” That is what goes through a client’s minds when they peruse through what you’ve delivered.

Clients don’t want to feel like they’re being ripped off. If you deliver what they can do with their eyes closed, they won’t see the need to hire you again.

Therefore, always seek to push the envelopes of your ability every time a client entrusts you with a gig.

To be a better writer, stop trying to be a jack-of-all-trades. You can never be good at everything. The best strategy is to choose a profitable niche that you like, commit to learn everything that is to be known in that niche and keep up with the latest trends.

When you get a writing gig from a niche you love, you’ve already done the research! Your enthusiasm shows in your writing, and the client is impressed with the results.

Remember to proofread your work. Some clients are perfectionists, and any hint of a grammatical mistake irks them. I recommend subscribing to an online tool like Grammarly that can help you ensure that the grammar, sentence structures, and styles are all in order.


4. Convenience

Your competence also produces a secondary benefit for your client: convenience.

When you know your stuff well (competence), clients don’t have to spend too much time guiding you. They can conveniently leave an entire project in your hands and get on with other important business.

This secondary benefit (convenience) may be even more valuable than what you deliver.

Just look at this chart on why consumers shop online (freelance clients are shopping online for your writing service), based on a 2017 Global Consumer Report by KPMG.

Convenience appears in three different variations on the same chart: “to save time,” “convenience of not going to shops,” and “convenience of everything in one place.” Even “ability to shop 24/7” has something to do with convenience.


competence in freelance writers


5. Originality

If all freelance clients want is plagiarized work, they won’t need you. They can visit a relevant website and copy-paste content. Besides, almost every worthwhile topic under the sun has been sufficiently covered.

Therefore, when a client hires you, it goes without saying that you must generate unique content.

Submitting plagiarized work is wrong on so many levels. First, plagiarism is intellectual theft. Second, if the content is for SEO marketing, your client’s website will be punished by Google’s ranking algorithm. Third, you are betraying your client’s confidence.

Besides, producing unique work is really not that complicated. It does not mean writing something out of the ordinary.

Most of the time, what a freelance client wants is a different take on a subject that has probably been covered multiple times. A more personalized approach. Maybe you are to use specific sources the client gives you, include certain keywords, and a call-to-action.

With that being said, you’ll struggle to produce distinctive writing when you use one source. Therefore, read as many sources as you possibly can. Dig deep and understand the subject matter. Then, organize your thoughts and put them down in your own words while following your client’s instructions.

Churn out original content for your clients on a consistent basis, and you’ll top of the list of their go-to writers.


6. Trust

No matter how good your work is, clients need to know that they can trust you.

And trust is something that is demonstrated.

At the very least, let your words mean something.

For instance, if a client gives you a job and you agree to deliver within a certain period, please don’t miss the deadline. If you are not sure, you can complete it in good time, decline the offer.

If you take up the offer because you think that by declining it you are letting your client down, your client will be more disappointed if you don’t deliver on time. Maybe they have a pool of writers on standby that they can call upon when you are not available.

The same goes for meetings. Turn up for scheduled meetings on time. Don’t be late. And if you are to cancel a meeting, don’t do it at the very last minute.


Another level of trust is that you’ll not shock your client with poor work. Clients need to know that the job is always in the right hands. Don’t write a great article today then lower the standards tomorrow. Your client will hesitate to hire you again because they won’t know what to expect from you.

In short, strive to earn the trust of your clients if you want to remain in their good books.


7. Respect

Trust and respect go hand in hand because if you break someone’s trust, it means you don’t respect them.

All the same, there is more to respect.

For instance, how would your clients describe how it feels to work with you? Do they look forward to working with you? How you treat your clients is important. The experience stays with them and may well determine if they contact you again.

Always make them feel respected.

Don’t overlook the importance of using courteous words like “please” and “thank you.”

As mentioned earlier, turn up to Skype meetings on time. Don’t make them wait. This shows that you value and respect their time. Moreover, reply to emails quick – at least within 24 hours.

Be a good listener. Show this by maintaining eye contact, nodding in agreement, asking questions and laughing when appropriate.

When a client feels respected, they will like you and look forward to working with you on another project.


8. Reliability

From my experience, there are two types of freelance writers: reliable writers and unreliable writers. And freelance clients are looking for freelance writers in the first category.

Being reliable simply means a client can count on you to deliver as promised

Most clients are looking to build long-term relationships with freelance writers. That makes sense to them because it is much easier to get one or a couple of great and reliable writer and keep them for the long haul than hire new writers every time they need a job done.

It’s better to turn down a job if you are not sure you’ll deliver it within your client’s timeline than take it, promise to deliver, fail, and give flimsy excuses. A regular client will ditch you and find a more reliable writer.


To be a reliable writer, try to understand your abilities. Writers usually write more as they grow and mature in their careers.

Know the amount of work you can deliver in a day. That way, you’ll be in a better position to know whether you can meet a client’s deadline or not and communicate the same to the client.

If you have many clients, I’d advise you to create a schedule for each. A schedule will help you manage your time better and deliver on time.


9. Affordability

Could it be that a potential client did not get back to you because you quoted too much?

And yes, I know that newbie freelance writers are some of the most underrated and underpaid workers in the world.

I also believe that we deserve to be paid more for what we do.

That is why I’m not asking you to work at any rate a client offers you.

However, it’s important to keep in mind clients have budgets to work with. And good clients compensate their writers well. Besides, “affordable” does not necessarily mean “cheap.”

Therefore, be reasonable with your rates. Don’t try to rip off potential clients. Remember that you need to be professional and professionalism calls for integrity.


10. Interest

In as much as clients want writers they’ll enjoy working with, they need to know that the feeling is mutual. That way, clients will know that they are getting the best from their writers.

As a writer, show your clients that you intend to deliver results that match their vision for the job.

For instance, before starting on a project, you could outline your approach and show it to the client. Find out whether they like it that way or would prefer a different angle. When you complete and submit it, follow up to check whether the client is satisfied and offer to make revisions if need be.



Clients have expectations and are looking for writers that can measure up to them.

You can’t make the best pitch but deliver poor work and expect to keep that client and you can’t prove to be unreliable and expect not to be axed.

You have to demonstrate the right traits to win and develop a good working relationship with your clients.

This article has dissected the critical elements of the type of freelance writer that a typical freelance client will be instantly sold to.



Now, the million-dollar question is: do you want to be that writer? Let me know in the comments.

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