I have a client who came to me with an assignment and said, “Here’s what we’re thinking this story should be. We’d love to hear your ideas, too.”
Since the client was still fleshing out the story idea, he was open to suggestions. And by doing so, he got me to care more deeply about the end result. I became more invested in the project and took more ownership.
As a freelance writer, I receive assignments in the usual way: here’s the story idea, the source you should contact, the word count, and the deadline. My editors give me as much information as possible, because they want me to succeed and provide a high-quality finished piece.
But some clients don’t have all the answers. They look to their writers to help them figure out the best way to approach a project. When that happens, I feel a little zing in my heart. I get to put on my consultant’s hat and bring relevant experience to the table.
Most freelance writers have far more skills than they’re tasked with. Sure, we know how to structure stories, get the money quote and follow a style guide. But most of the freelance writers I know once worked in corporate jobs and managed big projects. They, like I did, may have chosen to leave that life, but they still love to solve problems.
Of course, it’s not always at the request of a client when you put on your consultant’s hat. For example, with another client, the subject matter expert for a story was so busy, it wasn’t possible to set up an interview time on the phone. So I proposed doing all the research based on the topic the source was interested in, and writing a draft that she could read. She could then provide her two cents via email rather than on the phone.
Good writers wear the consultant hat all the time. It’s in our blood to offer suggestions, move a project along, and ultimately find better ways of doing things that will make life easier for the client.