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What should you do when clients hate your content?

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Writing is art, and not everyone is going to like what you create. What can you do when clients hate your content?

You think you’ve written the best article or blog post ever. You send it to your client, and wait for the “thank you.” Instead, you get a response that hurts. Your clients hate your content, and some of them aren’t going to be all that nice about it.

It is a knock to the ego. You can’t see the problem with it, but your clients have feedback that hurts. Sometimes, it’s constructive and you can work with it. Other times, it’s just downright rude. This is a difficult situation to be in, but there are steps that you can take.

Take a step back from the situation

The first thing I will say is take a step back. I’ve been freelance writing since 2010, and one thing I’ve learned is that I can’t please everyone. What worked for one client didn’t work for another. What I loved wasn’t loved by everyone else.

Clients can get rude. They’ll forget that there’s a person on the other side of the computer. They’ll say things that they wouldn’t have said in person, feeling like the internet gives them space to say whatever the hell they want. Take a step back from responding in a similar way. It’s tempting, but it’s not professional.

You don’t want to burn a bridge here. Even if the client is rude, you can turn it around. It could be something as simple as missing a paragraph from the work. If you remain calm, you could make the difference between the client blasting you all over social media or referring you to others for their needs.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when clients hate your content. The same applies to comments left on your blog posts.

What are the comments?

Why do clients hate your content? That’s the first question to answer. Look into the details of the comments. Do they disagree with your opinions? Is it the topic that is just a controversial one and you didn’t fall on the same side as the client? Or is there something wrong with your writing?

Once you know the reason for the comments, you can start acting on them. In some cases, there’s nothing you can do. You’ll need to decide whether to offer a refund and move on, or to just move on without the refund.

I don’t usually recommend a refund once the work is completed. The client can still use that work, or get someone else to write from it. There’s no guarantee that they won’t use the content in some way. However, a refund can sometimes be the difference between a destroyed reputation or not.

Where can you improve?

You may think your blog post is amazing, but others could find faults. Use the comments to help you improve. The same applies to book reviews. If someone has left a scathing review, find out why and what you can do to improve it.

Constructive criticism is so useful. I speak from experience and am grateful when people tell me if there is a problem or an area that I could have strengthened my article.

Not all clients are going to offer constructive feedback at first. If I get a rude client, the first thing I ask is “where exactly are the issues?” I want details and not just “it’s all terrible.” Give me a reason it’s terrible. If they start insulting me or my intelligence, I walk away without a care in the world and then look out for any negative reviews that I can rebuke.

When they have constructive criticism, I listen. It could be that I just missed the mark for their audience. In other cases, it could be that I forgot to link to a source, or that I just didn’t quite hit their expectations. Good clients will politely explain the problems and we can work together on it.

Do clients hate your content for real?

Is this a case where the clients actually hate your content? I’ve had PITA clients before. These are the “pain in the ass” clients, the trolls, and the ones that want the world for nothing. They are entitled, and I have very little time for them.

At first, I may not see any red flags. This leads to me doing the work, only to find out that they’re a PITA client afterward. It’s when they get rude and start insulting me for the sake of it. They’ll come with completely different expectations from the original ones. They’ll say they want something that they never communicated clearly the first time.

In many of these cases, I leave them to complain. If they want to leave a negative review online, I’ll look out for it. What they don’t get is their money back. They’re not entitled to free work.

These people are a little like the trolls you’ll find online. Don’t feed them.

MORE: 5 tips for raising your writing rate

You don’t need to offer refunds because clients hate your content. You don’t even necessarily need to rewrite anything. Pay attention to what the feedback is.

Get in touch with me to get yourself started as a writer and deal with that first negative feedback.