Last Updated on: September 30th, 2020
I wrote this post when I was asked to contribute to a round-up post by a fellow freelancer. I was asked about my first freelancing client, and how I got the gig.
As I wrote my response to her, I realized that I had A TON of things I could share!
So, I shortened my response to her and wrote this post!
About Me and My First Freelancing Client
I’m a freelance writer and editor (for hire), and I’ll never forget my first freelancing client.
It was Greg Narayan from Dear Blogger.
He was both my best and my worst client. In this post I will explain why.
I will also explain what lessons I learned from him.
These lessons will benefit any content writer who is a freelance blogger!
Do not make the same mistakes I did. Instead, read about and learn from my experiences.
How I Met My First Freelancing Client
Back in 2013, I was a newbie blogger.
I followed many blogging blogs to learn more about blogging.
I read SEO blogs to learn about SEO.
I made sure to leave insightful comments on each post I read.
Dear Blogger was one of the blogs I read faithfully. I subscribed to his site. Back then, Greg posted really awesome, helpful content.
But… the one thing I noticed was that Greg had no posting schedule.
I recall that I couldn’t wait to get an email from him, notifying me that a new post was published, because his posts contained a lot of useful information. I learned a lot from Greg.
When I left comments, I tried to really connect with Greg. But I also used many emoticons in them. As a result, most of my comments ended up in his Spam folder.
Somehow, I caught his attention.
Maybe it was all the emoticons I used!
We began talking.
He ended up offering me a job.
The Different Freelancing Jobs I Did For My First Client
Greg created a hired position for me as a Social Media Manager. We signed a contract that he prepared. Together, we revised it, came to an agreement, and then we signed it.
Initially, all he wanted me to do was send out Tweets to my own Twitter followers 5 times a day. Tweets to his posts on Dear Blogger. I was happy to do this, as I loved his content. I was paid $5 a day.
In a sense, I was doing virtual assistant work for Greg. (Learn how you can become a high-paid virtual assistant!)
Around the same time that all this was going on, I was trying to land some guest posts on popular blogs. My goal was to eventually write for Make A Living Writing (which I did) and also Problogger (which I did). I was even paid for one of those posts! (Can you guess which one?)
I also tried to get published on one of Jon Morrow’s blogs, Boost Blog Traffic, which has recently been re-branded as Smart Blogger. (Jon is also the editor of Copyblogger… and an amazing man who has a terrible disease. His Spinal Muscular Atrophy, however did not prevent him from fighting and becoming one of the top bloggers and one of the best blogging teachers in the world!)
I created a post that was rejected by Jon Morrow’s (then) assistant, Marsha Stoppa. I was told it was not good enough. Yet, in reality, it was great! It was one of the best posts I had ever written… as a newbie blogger.
I talked to Greg about this experience. He read the post and suggested I turn it into an e-book. He said we could sell it right from his site.
I was thrilled! At least someone believed in me… even it wasn’t Mr. Morrow!
He granted me access to one of his accounts where I could create an e-book cover. He trusted me that much.
We tried selling it on his blog. It sold a few copies, but not as many as I’d hoped.
I was disappointed.
In the end, I decided to use this ebook as a freebie on my own site, to give away to my blog subscribers. I still use it, and have updated it a few times over the last two years.
(NOTE that you can STILL get this book for FREE.)
Eventually, through our communications, Greg noticed my talent for both writing and editing. (I am an English teacher, after all.)
I asked him if I could guest post on his blog.
He had not allowed anyone to do this before, and so I was ecstatic when he gave me the chance. I was the first person he ever let guest post on his site! (I was also the first person to guest post on MadLemmings!)
Greg liked my style of writing so much that he asked me to write a post each month for Dear Blogger.
Back then, I was paid $50 per post. I did not have a word limit assigned to me. I could write to my heart’s content. I had complete freedom. I loved it.
Greg also hired me to edit his writing. I was paid more handsomely for that, but, since I was new to freelancing, I had to figure out what to charge. I created a page on my (then free) website and listed my rates.
I’ve since raised my rates a couple of times. Being a certified English teacher carries some merit, after all. 😉
The Pros and The Cons of Having JUST One Client
Eventually, I was doing three jobs for Greg. He was my only client back then.
After a while, he became very needy. He expected me to be there at his beck and call 24/7.
I felt like I was being taken advantage of.
I also thought I deserved a raise for all the great work I was doing, so I asked for one.
I got it.
A part of me wished I would’ve asked sooner!
In the end, I resigned from the Tweeting job. I was tired of sending out the same Tweets to my followers all of the time, and I wasn’t growing my social media presence as fast as I wanted to.
I also learned that my time was much more valuable than that!
Greg sort of got mad. But he saw things from my point of view. He also saw my growth as a blogger, and complimented me on it.
I worked for Greg for about eight months.
Overall, Greg taught me a lot.
Not only did I learn about blogging, I learned a bit of code, too. Plus, I learned some very valuable lessons as a freelancer!
What I Learned About Blogging and Coding
I learned coding skills.
I learned how to highlight text in my blog posts.
I learned how to create page jumps (and you can learn, too, if you follow the instructions in this tutorial post). I used these page jumps in my web hosting guide. It took me FOREVER to do this!!! (Btw, I hate code…)
BUT… for a non-techie like me, learning all of these things was a huge accomplishment!
I also learned how to cope with massive amounts of email notifications.
However, towards the end, I was no longer happy working for Greg. Things had changed. He was not reliable. In a sense, Greg became “the client from hell.”
He was needy. He didn’t treat me with the respect I deserved. He was also very hard to get ahold of sometimes. He ended up ignoring me. I felt like I was wasting my time working for him.
I struggled with my mixed feelings about Greg for a long time before I decided to resign.
When I did, I felt as though a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders.
And I have NO REGRETS.
I learned a lot from the whole experience of working for him.
10 Freelancing Lessons Learned from this Client
1: Ask for a raise when you know you deserve it.
2: Taking a break from blogging and freelancing is necessary.
(Here’s how to take a blogging break.)
3: Communication and setting boundaries is extremely important.
If you don’t, your client will walk all over you.
4: Being available to your client 24/7 is NEVER a good thing.
However, being prompt with your email replies IS.
That’s how Elna Cain managed to land one particular client of hers, which she revealed in How One Simple Thing Turned Into $1k of Freelance Writing Business.
NOTE: Elna teaches you how to Write Your Way to Your First #1K.
5: Setting deadlines and meeting them is essential to success.
If you don’t give yourself self-imposed deadlines (which I HAD to do with Greg, because he was so flexible and didn’t tell me what he needed or when), you will never get ahead.
Greg didn’t care when I gave him my monthly post. I could have given it to him on the 5th, or the 25th. It didn’t matter to him. BUT it mattered to me!
6: Your clients will wear on your patience.
You need to learn to let things go. You also need to learn to separate yourself from the job and not let it consume you. It’s just a job, and you need to make time for leisure in your life, too!
7: Sometimes you will care more about the job than your client does.
Your gig means everything to you, but not to your client! You need to stop caring so much, and treat it like the task that it is.
8: Clients will not always see things from your point of view.
It’s up to you to convince them what is best for them, especially if they don’t know. Not everyone has your knowledge. They have their own. Often there is a big difference in the skill set you each possess.
Even though I was a new blogger, I learned a lot from all the blogging blogs I followed. Greg didn’t practice what these pro bloggers preached. It was up to ME to educate HIM. (Yes, the roles ended up being reversed!)
9: Clients will try to control you by withholding your pay.
While Greg was generally pretty good about paying me promptly for work done, I sometimes had to remind him to do so. I now require payment up-front in most cases. I also encourage potential clients to order directly from my website.
I like being surprised with emails from people who have pre-paid for my services!
10: When you are unhappy with a client, it’s best to simply drop them.
No amount of money is worth the stress “a client from hell” can cause you.
My mother always told me to choose a job that I like doing, that way I would never have to work a day in my life.
She was right.
I love writing and editing. I love words. I love blogging. I love helping others.
But I don’t love all my clients.
Just most of them. 😉
Your Turn to Share a Freelance Client Story!
Tell me in the comments about YOUR first freelancing client. Did you learn anything from him or her?
Let’s share stories… and learn from one another!
And if you want to get started as a freelancer, or learn how to move your freelance writing career forward, you should definitely take Gina Horkey’s course: 30 Days to Freelance Writing Success!
Learn more about this course RIGHT HERE!