Rule Number One of Freelancing: Get it in Writing

“Can we just hop on a phone call? This won’t take two minutes.”

A simple Facebook meme last week with the above caption made my heart sink. No doubt we’ve all been there. If you haven’t, then it’s only a matter of time.

If you discuss everything over the phone and don’t get stuff in writing, you will undoubtedly encounter the type of friction that will include these three magic words.

“But you said…”

These three words are the main, if not the only, reason why should get client instructions in writing. When you have a written record, whether that’s an email or a private message, you have a cold hard copy of what was actually said.

Sure, it can be misinterpreted but you have a reference to draw them back to when they tell you what they believe they said.

The client who wants to talk on the phone may not realise precisely why you want everything in writing. If they’re running a small business (and most of my work is B2B) then they will know the importance of having a paper trail for everything.

I remember one client – and no, I am not naming names – wanted to discuss everything over the phone. They fiercely resisted my emails and preferred to hear my voice so we can better understand each other. And because “talking is easier.”

Yep, I get that it is easier for some things, but for work purposes it is often counterproductive. But this client was either forgetful or liked to change their brief halfway through and put it on me. All I had was my written notes – which, incidentally I had sent to the client, and they’d approved.

I don’t think this former client was malicious, I think they were forgetful and perhaps so busy that they mixed up conversations because they preferred to talk on the phone rather than put stuff in writing.

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