I have a client I syndicate content for. She publishes small custom magazines, and relies on me to provide her with articles in specific areas. I have a number of freelancers I work with who provide me with a list of their relevant stories. I keep a master list of what's available and provide it to my client. She chooses the stories she wants, I request the stories from the relevant writers, check them over, send them on to my editor, and take care of paying the writers. It makes me valuable to my client and has resulted in a lot of reprint sales to my stable of freelancers.
But here's the thing--my client is only interested in articles of 750+ words. When soliciting for writers (I have plenty right now but will post here when I need more writers), I was very specific about that. So I was disappointed when my client asked for several stories from a writer I hadn't worked with before. When the writer sent them in, I discovered they weren't anywhere close to 750 words. I couldn't buy them as my client couldn't use them...and yet the writer had listed them at 750 words on her story list. Not cool--especially when you can see the word count of a manuscript at the bottom of an open Word document!
I won't buy from her in the future--I have several dozen writers who will give me exactly what I need, and I don't have time to work with people who won't. And that's the mistake I'm talking about--ignoring (or forgetting about) your client's specs. Before you turn a story in, double-check your assignment and make sure you're giving her what she asked for in terms of subject, sources, tone, word count, and format. Make her happy and she'll make you happy--with repeat assignments.
By the way, in a future post I'll talk about word count...how close you need to get and a simple rule of thumb for freelancers. Stay tuned!