In a What’s Up Wednesdays speedlink a couple of weeks ago, I included a blog post from a professional photographer who said that he will never give his RAW files to his clients. He said this is because the RAW files don’t fully represent his work and his creative vision. He said this was akin to a writer providing his client with an article or book that was still a work in progress, before it was ready for publication. And this got me thinking.
Getting Their Hands Dirty
It’s perfectly understandable that all clients have their preferences in how they want to work with freelance writers and other contractors. Some clients are more hands-off, simply asking that you deliver the final product before the deadline. Other clients are much more hands-on and they want to be involved throughout the creative process. They want to tweak and alter the direction as you go.
And to this end, I’m not sure how I feel about letting my clients see my work in progress. Even before I start writing a first draft, I might work out a series of key sections and bullet points. And when that first draft is written, I may need to revisit and rework it to best suit the goal of the piece. A client who sees this early draft may or may not be happy with what he sees.
Fix It in Post
Given this, I can definitely sympathize with the professional photographer. These basic bullet points, these early drafts are very much akin to the RAW files that a digital SLR produces and it is only through the careful editing (“post-processing”) that we arrive at a polished, final work. But then again, writing and photography aren’t exactly alike either.
A big part of running a small business is managing the expectations of your clients and ensuring that what you deliver at the end is what they want. Realistically, it doesn’t matter all that much if you love the article you just wrote if the client is not pleased with it.
By providing those clients who wish to see your work in progress with that kind of access, you can have a better shot at staying on track and keeping to the vision that they have in mind. Rather than pour in hours of hard work only to have a client say it’s not at all what they had in mind, the instant feedback and guidance can nip that problem in the bud. You really need to get on the same page early and stay there.
What Do You Think?
So, I turn to the rest of the freelance writer community with a simple question: do you ever allow your clients to see your work in progress? Why or why not?