How to Create Instant Authority …

Maureen Lauder here, back for Day 2 of The Writer’s Life. This week I’m passing on some client-relationship lessons I learned from my first-time teaching experience.

Yesterday we talked about the importance of having confidence in your own expertise. And I asked you to demonstrate your knowledge by evaluating some of the copy in your niche.

Today we’re going to talk about authority – and how exerting yours can help you establish fruitful partnerships with your clients.

My first semester of teaching, I never had total control of my classroom. My students were noisy, they skipped classes, they missed deadlines, and they argued about grades. All my policies seemed to be up for negotiation, so I was always anticipating an argument.

When I started my second semester, I wanted to nip that behavior in the bud. So I established detailed policies about everything – and laid out consequences for violating my rules. Needless to say, the classroom dynamic was very different that semester.

But really, the biggest thing that changed was my attitude. I had clear expectations, and I didn’t negotiate when my students complained. I simply enforced the policies I’d instituted. No emotion, no resentment.

Having clear policies allowed me to focus on the most important part of teaching – fostering a collaborative relationship with my students.

Believe it or not, the same is true of freelancing. When you establish business policies, you make major decisions one time – up front. You don’t have to remake them for each client.

Take emails, for example. I used to check my email at all hours. Instead of enjoying my weekends, I wasted time and energy agonizing over client communications.

Today, I check email only during regular business hours. If I get an email on Saturday morning, I wait until Monday to respond. Even better, I don’t waste energy worrying about it. So I pay more attention to the stuff that really matters – like generating results for my clients.

Establishing policies for your business allows you to focus on your clients – and on delivering exceptional copy.

Today, I want you to think about what you want from your client relationships. What do you want your writer’s life to look like?

Take a few moments to answer these questions:

  1. What days and times are you available to clients?
  2. When do you plan to check (and respond to) email?
  3. How many revisions are you willing to do on a job?
  4. Will you accept rush jobs? Under what circumstances?

Considering these questions now enables you to protect your own time and energy. That’s vital for a writer.

When you establish clear policies, you invest yourself with the authority to respond politely, professionally, and unemotionally to your clients. That makes you a better writer – and a better collaborator.

So, take a few moments today to decide what your policies are. And then go to the comments and tell me what you came up with.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about how to prepare for client phone calls. Now that you have your policies in place, you’re ready to start wowing clients.

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Published: August 5, 2014

6 Responses to “How to Create Instant Authority…”

  1. Loved this article. The more we treat ourselves as professionals (such as your example of not making yourself available on weekends), the more we will be treated that way.

    TK GarrettAugust 5, 2014 at 11:01 am

  2. Maureen,

    As a college teacher myself, I appreciate the parallels you make between teaching and copywriting.I can easily relate to this analogy, and I thank you for good teachings.



    Guest (Ben Miles)August 5, 2014 at 3:26 pm

  3. Great post, I think I would answer the four questions like this:
    I think I would be available only monday to friday. I would check email everyday at a given schedule and aswer immediately during that period of time, otherwise, they should wait. I would do no more than 3 revisions and I would only accept rush jobs only if the payment is highly payed and I might reject it. Well, that's it. Those are my first policies. :)

    CecalliAugust 6, 2014 at 12:22 am

  4. Your article sparked something in me. I realize I have been a freelancing "prostitute" of sorts, thinking I needed to be available 24/7. Thanks for the heads up. I am NOW establishing my policies. Thank you.

    PS-I think rates are appropriate to set as well. If clients don't like that, you can always offer to negotiate.

    ConnieMWTAugust 6, 2014 at 1:28 pm

  5. Another word to describe what you are referring to is "boundaries". People who work at home need to take special care to establish their own structure and boundaries and, if unable to do so can't expect that others will either. In fact, if one is not firm in keeping boundaries once established, then they soon diminish then disappear.

    Guest (Nora King)August 6, 2014 at 2:03 pm

  6. Very inspiring post!
    1.Im available Tuesday through Friday. 8am to 330pm. Firm.
    2.I plan to check my emails whenever I'm able. Thats not a problem. However, any response will be during the above mentioned hours.
    3.Im willing to do as many reasonable revisions I deem necessary to produce exceptional results.
    4.I most certainly will accept rush jobs-providing-Im confident I can evoke my clients emotions. :)

    soarboldeAugust 6, 2014 at 2:32 pm

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