A friend once told me that part of a mechanic’s job was massaging the egos of car owners.
“Yes, that’s a classic model.”
“There’s never a problem getting spares for this one.” (And with good reason.)
For freelance writers – and for most self-employed people, I imagine – there’s a lot of focus on service. Sometimes that’s called customer service and sometimes it’s more loftily referred to as relationship management (usually on CVs), but it comes down to keeping the customer satisfied.
That requires playing a variety of roles, often before you can get down to the job itself. You may work on refining (sometimes defining) the scope of their requirements and checking that those requirements align with their objectives / audience. You may feel you have taken on the guise of a counsellor when the client wants to talk through not only the job but also the reasons behind it and the effects it has on them.
Here are some of the other roles you may play: ideas generator, business support, marketing strategist, concept developer, publicist, reality check, negotiator, and confidante.
There are times when all you want to do is get on with the job, but paying attention to your clients stated and unstated needs (you can add intuitive to the list of roles) will pay dividends. The more closely aligned you are with their vision of their work the more likely you are to deliver to their satisfaction. It naturally follows, when that’s the case, you become the logical choice when any further projects arise.
It can be time consuming when you fulfil additional roles, especially when they need to be covered before you can reach the writing / editing / proofreading. However, they are not hurdles; they are simply additional aspects of the job and you need to factor in the time required and the cost of providing those services too.