The client is always right. The number one rule of business, right? Yeah, except for when it’s wrong. I’m not talking about a picky client, one that asks for one too many revisions; I’m talking about the client who is just, well, flat-out wrong.
As a freelance writer, I’ve had my fair share of finicky clients, those who’ve asked for something particular to be included in their article, then sent it back for a revision, asking for that certain thing to be removed. I’ve had clients who’ve specifically asked for a blog post written in first person, then send it back and ask for it to be written in third person. These are all matters of taste, of style, and don’t necessarily mean that either of us are right or wrong.
I’m talking about the client who wants blog post written with a 6% keyword density, or the client who wants an article written with completely inaccurate information . . . what then?
The client is wrong, so what does that mean for you?
When I write for clients, essentially I am ghost writing. Once I’m paid, the content I produce belongs to the client, who can claim authorship. My name is not attached to the content, so should it make a difference to me if the client wants a bad piece of content? Yes and no.
What is bad for my client’s business — even if it is something they asked for — can be bad for my business. Google doesn’t like bad content. If Google penalizes my client for bad content, my client becomes unhappy. If my client becomes unhappy, my client may decide to look for a new writer, or bad-mouth me to other potential clients.
What’s a freelancer to do when faced with a client who wants work done wrong?
Educate your client. As a freelance writer, I do feel it is my job to give my clients what they want. But I also feel it is my duty to make sure they know what they’re asking for. In the instances where I’ve had clients ask for an obnoxiously large keyword density (yes, this has happened more than once — a lot more than once), I do feel the need to educate them in how Google feels about keyword stuffing. After all, it’s not my client’s job to keep up with current SEO guidelines — that’s my job. And nine times out of ten, the client is appreciative that I have done so.
Listen to what your client has to say. There may be a specific reason your client wants things done the wrong way. Respectfully listen to his viewpoint. What are the results your client is looking for?
Offer a viable alternative. Explain to your client what type of results he can get from this alternative. Saying something like “In my experience, clients benefit more from . . . ” can gently remind your client that you are the expert.
Sometimes a client is going to want it done his way, regardless. This is where you need to make the decision of whether or not to do it. Are you comfortable giving a client something they want, even if it is wrong? Personally, I’ve had a client (another writer who outsourced to me) who insisted on a 6% keyword density. His reasoning? That’s what his client wanted. So yes, I gave him what he wanted. I have also worked with a client who wanted me to write inaccurate information. My primary writing niche is medical/alternative health, so writing inaccurate information can have dire consequences. I refused to write that article.
How about you? Have you ever had to deal with a client who wanted something done the wrong way? Leave a comment and let me know how you handled it.