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It pays to be friendly in business

Before going self-employed I held numerous roles, all of which put me in contact with questionable characters. And I don’t mean clients, I mean my colleagues. Since then I’ve worked hard to put myself into a position where I take on the work I want to do and turn down the rest. I charge set fees but better still, I choose who I work with.

My criteria for working with someone

1. Respect

If someone emails me asking me to do something for them and they’re going to give me the sum total of nothing in return, they don’t respect me. That person has no regard for what I do or the hours I put into my blog. They don’t see the value in working with bloggers or the exposure they would gain for their business.

But it’s more than that. Asking someone to work for free is exploitation. Sharing their blog on social media means nothing. It will not make them into the next big thing or drive hundreds of visitors to their site.

Many people turn to blogging at a time when they are vulnerable. They may be lonely or struggling for money. They’re pouring their heart and soul into blogging. And they’re not doing it so that they can promote somebody’s business for free.

But sadly, they might fall for the patter and invest hours of their time in putting together a blog post that will be of no benefit to them. Time they could have spent with their families. Time they could have invested in bettering their blog, or earning money. This practice of asking people to work for nothing is not acceptable and I won’t support it.

So you want to be a successful business person. You've heard that it's tough at the top. You have to be ruthless. Cutthroat. A shrewd player. Forget it. Be friendly, the people you look after will want to help you to succeed.

2. Manners

So, you want to work with me. You’re willing to pay my fees, that’s great. Thank you. So you drop me an email telling me what you want. But you neglect to say please or thank you. You can’t be bothered to find out my name, so you just cut and paste the last email you sent. Including the name. Or you address me as Plutonium. Really, is that the best you can do?

No, I won’t be working with you. Admittedly your money is as good as anybody else’s, but if a company employs someone to deal with outreach who has no communication skills, the likelihood is they haven’t put much effort into recruitment in other parts of the company either. So that business will have a reputation for rudeness and poor customer service. And I don’t want to be associated with it.

3. Understanding

Actually, I rarely need much of this. I follow the brief and get the work done on time because I take pride in my work. I always do the best job I can because it’s the right thing to do. But occasionally, I make mistakes. And there may even be an occasion when I can’t get something done on time because the children are ill or something has gone wrong. Actually I don’t remember that ever happening, but if it does? I expect you to behave appropriately.

I suppose this is all tied up in manners and respect. We are all human and sometimes a deadline might slide by a few hours or a mistake might creep in. If you overreact to it, that just creates more mistakes. A dread of working for you because of the horrible, unpleasant behaviour if things are not perfect. These days I walk away from people like that. But those who stay are people who need the money to support their families. I have been there and I don’t intend to allow it to happen to me again.

Making an exception

My three criteria for working with someone are not up for debate. And as a result, I’ve let other things slide. For example, I don’t really do freelance writing anymore. I’d rather blog. It’s what I enjoy and I only have a limited amount of time so something had to give. So, I got rid of all my freelance contracts.

But there are two exceptions. Two people who I’ve worked with over the years who have been an absolute pleasure to deal with. If they get in touch and say they need me to do some work, I do it. They’re not the people who offer the best remuneration and quite frankly, that sort of work doesn’t pay particularly well. But they’re good, kind, genuine people. Which is just as important in business as it is in day to day life.

So you want to be a successful business person. You've heard that it's tough at the top. You have to be ruthless. Cutthroat. A shrewd player. Forget it. Be friendly, the people you look after will want to help you to succeed.



  1. May 28, 2017 / 8:13 am

    I have similar criteria too – respect and good manners are a huge thing for me. Like you, I only take on work that I want to do – the ones that appeal to me – my blog is a hobby and my full-time employment keeps me right financially. Nice to hear you have a couple of freelance contacts still though xx

  2. May 28, 2017 / 9:52 am

    Having respect, manners and understanding is so important. The amount of rude emails that I get expecting me to do something for nothing is ridiculous and I’m sure I’m far from alone in this. My blog isn’t my full-time job though which gives me much more freedom to be able to say no to requests and I’m thankful for this. It’s harder if you don’t have the choice and need that money but it’s wrong that others exploit that. I never thought about the fact that asking for a blog post purely in return for social media shares is exploitative but you’re right. I might write most of my posts “for free” – but that’s because they are the posts that I choose to write – I’m not writing them because someone else has asked me to, but because I want to write them. When someone asks me to write a post advertising their brand, it’s not a post I would have chosen to write otherwise. If I’m providing advertising, then I expect to be paid for doing so – especially given that it takes time away from something I might have chosen to do instead. Being friendly makes a big difference though – I’d rather work for someone who is polite, respectful and understanding too even if they might not pay quite so well. Fab post as always x

  3. May 28, 2017 / 1:48 pm

    I have similar values when taking on crochet commissions. I have had people message me saying things like ‘I want an …….’ ‘I need it done immediately’ or the one I really hate ‘how much of that (price) covers the materials. All comments show a lack or repsect for me, my work and the time I put into it.

  4. May 28, 2017 / 10:59 pm

    It’s a testament to the years of hard work you have put in and the quality of your blog that you can chose who you work with. My blog is still in early days so I’m happy to work for products, but your other criteria for good manners definitely apply. My other criteria are that products have to be a) relevant in some way to the themes of my blog and b)decent quality so I can genuinely recommend them. I’d hate someone to buy something I blogged positively about if I didn’t genuinely think it was good.

  5. May 29, 2017 / 6:48 am

    Amen to all of that! Politeness and friendliness cost nothing and they make such a difference to a working relationship. It’s great to be in a position where you can turn down work when potential clients are rude or lazy. If only everyone would turn down free work, but it’s so tempting for newer bloggers to believe it will help their blog grow.

  6. May 29, 2017 / 7:47 am

    I agree respect and manners are a must for me! It just shows if you build a relationship based on this, then you will work them over and over again. x

  7. May 30, 2017 / 4:40 am

    Hi Nat, well said! I hate those obviously cut and pasted emails where they can’t be bothered to use my name. Or even worse claim they are offering me a job that will fit in with my blog when it so obviously doesn’t. Being polite and showing respect don’t cost a penny, so there is really no excuse for not showing any.

    If I am shown respect and understanding I will go out of my way to give my all. If you treat me otherwise, you’ll be lucky to get a reply!


  8. June 1, 2017 / 8:03 am

    Yes! I agree with all of these. Respect and manners are much more likely to get a good response and a willingness to work together. I do find it’s often the smaller companies who seem to have more respect and good manners. 🙂 x

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