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When you realise you've taken on too much work....

(9 Posts)
MyRealNamesBernard Tue 26-Jan-16 11:01:40

So, it would appear I have totally overextended myself in the work dept. I am a writer, and have been doing freelance projects for one client regularly now for nearly two years. It has built up nicely, to a level that is still manageable. But there are weeks when it's quiet, and in those weeks I have taken on smaller, one off, projects.

In December I agreed to take on some work for a new client. At first it seemed straightforward - a nice way to 'plug the gap' when it's quiet. But as I am getting deeper into to it all it's started taking of my life. It's very, very technical and as a result I am having to do LOTS of reading to give me the gist, and also to ensure accuracy. Last night I was up till 2am swotting for an interview I have to conduct later this week.

I have three kids, only 15 hours of childcare per week and a husband who travels for work and often does nights. I don't think this is going to be do-able going forward! But I am worried about letting the client down, but I feel I won't be giving them the best service they can get if I continue.

Is it bad form to resign so early into a project? And how should I go about it?

CocktailQueen Tue 26-Jan-16 11:09:22

So why has this happened?

Was the brief not explained well enough? Did you underestimate the amount of work it would take? Is the client happy with you billing all the hours you're working?

Is it the kind of job/project you could share with other writers?

It can be seen as bad form to resign this early - but if the client wasn't clear about how long the job would take, and the job spec has changed, then that's not your fault.

If you do decide to resign, you need to be honest and clear - say you value them as a client but this project is too big/time consuming and you hadn't realised it would take this long. Offer a compromise - you can work x hours per week on it. Or ask about getting other writers involved.

Is it likely to ease off after a while?

MyRealNamesBernard Tue 26-Jan-16 14:09:36

Thank you for replying cocktail.

In answer to your questions, no the brief was not explained properly. It has changed several times and a lot of drip feeding has been going on. Messages I have left asking for clarification have gone unanswered too, which has not been helpful.

The client is paying me per article. So, the extra work I am doing - swotting up, and doing background research - is covered by the fee. I would always expect to do research in my line of work - but I am having to learn an entire profession in my spare time. I am interviewing some quite senior figures in this very niche area, it would be embarrassing if I went in unprepared.

The client has also asked me to do jobs which are not in my job description as a writer such as phoning around for ad leads and getting clients on board.

Basically, I am out of my depth. I think someone else (a professional in this area with good writing skills) could do a much better job. I just wish I had had the judgement to have realised this before I started.

I should probably add that no contract has been signed or exchanged. However, I have verbally agree do produce XX articles by XX date.

MyRealNamesBernard Tue 26-Jan-16 14:10:57

Sorry, I should have said: "the extra work is not covered by the fee"...!

NoTimeLikeSnowTime Tue 26-Jan-16 14:55:05

Been there, done that... Probably back there later this week!

- renegotiate rate with new client
- turn down all requests that aren't directly related to your writing
- recruit someone whose skills complement yours to take up some of the other jobs
- crank up your childcare
- some combination of the above!

CocktailQueen Tue 26-Jan-16 14:59:47

Ooh. Agree with SnowTime. How much do you want his client? How much unpaid work have you been doing? Can you hire someone who knows about this technical area to help? Or do you just want shot of them?

MyRealNamesBernard Tue 09-Feb-16 10:48:52

Thanks NoTime and CocktailQueen for your helpful comments. And sorry to leave this thread for so long... I have been waiting for a response from my client so I can update you.

So I went in with your advice and tried to renegotiate a new rate. But the client was not keen and basically said they didn't think the work was that involved and should not take as much research as I was suggesting. They did say they did not want to lose me, and flattered me with lots of praise on the work I'd done so far.

I suggested a compromise - submitting fewer articles per month while I get to grips with the subject. But, to that, I've had no response. I emailed them with that request nearly two weeks ago!

I've since found out, from some fellow freelancers in a similar field, that this client is woefully underpaying me... by quite a large amount. This, combined with the lack of communication is making me think, as Cocktail mooted, that I just want shot of them!

PermaShattered Tue 09-Feb-16 12:31:58

I'm a successful writer in a very niche area and might be able to help. Would you like to PM me? X

Cococo1 Wed 10-Feb-16 17:12:01

I think if he is underpaying you and happy with what you have done you should set a rate you think is fair and also an amount of work you are prepared to do. Or you can resign altogether. It's not really bad form in these circumstances but you may well not get any work from this client again.

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