Instant karma for freelancers

I know if you’re going to be a good client in 15 minutes.

I’m not prejudiced. I’m experienced.

How I know

Before our discovery meeting, I check out your LinkedIn profile and posts, as well as your web site if you have one. I can tell if you have something useful to say, or if you’re a self-promoting imposter. It also matters who referred you to me, and what I think of them.

At our meeting, I take note of what you say in the first 15 minutes, and how you say it.

After our meeting, I’ll check out a sample of your writing that you provide.

I get a gut feeling of what it’s going to be like to work with you. And if I don’t like it, I won’t.

Here’s some of what I’m noticing:

  • Do you have anything original to say, or are you repeating the same platitudes I’ve heard from many others?
  • Do you have any focus on your writing project and what it will accomplish for you, or is it just a vague yearning?
  • How long does it take you to answer the question “What is your audience” — and is the answer something other than “everyone?”
  • Can you cite examples, or just generalities?
  • Do you repeat one idea endlessly, or is there some variety to your insights?
  • Do you respond to questions and challenges to your ideas emotionally or rationally?
  • Are you appropriately concerned about price? (No concern at all is a red flag, as is obsessive concern and constant bargaining.)
  • Do you believe writing quality and quality of ideas are important?
  • How many people will be reviewing what we create, and are their roles well-defined?
  • Do you have a sense of humor?
  • Are your ideas ethical and moral?
  • Do you give credit to others when you use their ideas?
  • Are you nice or are you an asshole?

These things don’t matter: How old you are. What gender you are. What race you are. Whether you are an individual or work for a company (provided the company is on board with your project). What your area of focus is (provided it’s not way outside my experience). Whether you want to self-publish, hire a hybrid publisher, or pitch traditional publishers (although that will affect our work together).

What matters is what kind of person you are, what your goals are, and what your ideas are.

I can tell all the things that matter pretty quickly. In past years, my instincts have usually been right, but sometimes wrong. Every time they are wrong, I learn something. And as a result, these days, my quick judgments are pretty good.

Your karma follows you. You may not see it, but I can.

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