1. Greater focus should be given to professional forms of writing, such as business proposals and plans, which require less word count, less creative energy, but more technical skill, receive much support from the end user and are in the long run, usually more profitable than the average creative article.
  2. Do not take on a job that you do not have the competence to adequately deliver on. Rather, be honest with the client about your lack of ability in that respect. If the client is willing to trust you to learn on the job, fine. If not, take it as a challenge to develop your skill in that respect so that the next time such as opportunity comes, you don’t have to say no.
  3. Always have a free resource to give out, not only as a form of ISR (Individual Social Responsibility), but also to convince others of your skill.
  4. You are not Superman. Before taking new assignments, look at your current obligations and be honest about your capacity to deliver. Do not let the size of the pay check delude you into making a decision that puts your integrity in question. Personal businesses like these rely a lot on personal image to sell them much more than actual skill.
  5. Be wary about clients that offer you contracts for bulk services. Most times, once you put pen to paper, you’ve bound yourselves captive to a boss who will seek to get the most out of you, and pay beneath your rates. This is not to say that bulk service contracts are not bad, but ensure that you understand what you will be required to do, and consider how much you would individually charge for those jobs, before settling down to negotiate.
  6. After God, put your clients first, literally. The first thing you should everyday is to either do something about a pending job or develop your skills or advertise your brand once more.
  7. When a client requests a review, ensure you fully understand what he wants to see to avoid any time-wasting back and forth.
  8. I repeat, do not let greed lead you into taking on a job you either do not have the skill or the time for. It may hurt the client when you have to turn his/her job down, but it will hurt him much more when you fail to deliver, and your chances of getting positive referrals from such clients.
  9. In cases where you client is a middleman or agent of another, ensure that you make it clear to him that your business dealings with him are strictly between the both of you, not the end user. This is to avoid him using the end-user as an excuse to avoid paying you for work done or delay payment.
  10. As much as it is nice to review jobs that clients have issues with, this should not be at the detriment of other jobs. It would be wise to put a cap on how many times you can review an article, depending on its nature. For creative articles, I would recommend a maximum of 2 times. Any further review should be separately charged.
  11. Do not neglect to deliver on a job all because the client does not check up on you regularly.
  12. In determining your rates, ensure to consider your Word Count, your IP rights (which you may have to forgo, cost of data (it would not be bad idea to reject jobs that pay less than N1000, the least amount for one-month subscription, your research efforts, especially when the writing assignment is of a nature that requires intensive research, and the physical and mental effort of translating your thoughts into written content. In short, do not take on a job if you will not feel good about it while working on it.
  13. Do not be afraid of standing by your settled rates, no matter how much the client demands. If you’re sure of your value as a writer, or any other form of self-employed person, do not prevaricate about your rates. You may lose a client, but you’ve raised your standards.
  14. I repeat again, do not take on a job you have the competency to deliver. Rather, recommend someone else whom you know can deliver and wash your hands of it.
  15. Do not get so lost in the trying to serve your clients that you neglect the source of all that value; you. The reason you’re self-employed is because at some point, you took the time to learn something here and there about what you’re currently doing, and now, you’re confident enough to demand payment for what you do. Ensure that you keep learning in order to increase your earning power.

Analyst/Emerging Tech Lead, Tech Hive Advisory | AI Ethics & Governance Researcher