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Community Spotlight: Debunking the Myth: Freelance Writers are Mind Readers

Freelance writing as a career choice can be both fulfilling and stressful. The two emotions go together when writers face the same situations every day. Writers refer one of those situations as “mind reading.”

While the “mind reading” myth is alive and well and discussed often among the freelance community, in some instances, the use of the term is misunderstood and thought to be a negative situation used to describe a situation between clients and writers.


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Hold on to your magic hat because there’s more to the story than first meets the eye.

Writer Fulfillment

On the fulfillment side of the coin, the benefits of freelancing for a living can’t be denied. For some, it’s about overseeing one’s destiny. For others, it may be about the rewards of working as an independent contractor. Regardless of the reason, following client instructions is a major part of freelance work. Sometimes, this can be a challenge if there isn’t enough information provided by the client to create a clear picture of what the final copy should convey to readers.

The Other Side of Fulfillment

Although a freelance career is loaded with positive benefits, it has its stressful side, too. It requires a lot of energy to work at the highest level to be successful. A stress button pushed many times throughout a freelancer’s career is when a writer feels they’re being placed in the role of mind reader when it comes to figuring out those same limited instructions provided by a client.

Innate Versus Learned Mind Reading

Freelance writers have many things to draw from to create outstanding content, which includes understanding what to do and how to do it with minimal instructions from a client. Whether intuitively or from experience, mind reading is part of their arsenal of creative tools.

Interpreting what a client wants in their content comes naturally to some writers. It’s a gift that can expand a freelancer’s reach and knowledge base into unknown and uncharted new topic territory. For others, mind reading is a learned step that moves in a forward direction, becoming easier to navigate as experience is gained through the writer’s exposure to a variety of clients and their individual wishes.

This is where the “mind reader” part of the job comes into play, because many times, instructions may be limited, missing, or not clear. Meaning, the instructions on what to do and how to do it about formatting, linking, meta tags, tone, first, second, or third person, and style don’t give the writer a direction to pursue. There’s also the possibility the client is unable to put into words, clearly and concisely, what it is, exactly they’d like the writer to do and not do.

Mind Reading 101

Throughout a writer’s career, work may be available from many clients on one platform, multiple clients on multiple platforms, and/or by the writer providing writing services to private clients. Several things each client has in common are the need for good work from start to finish, fast turnaround, and solid research skills.

An exceptionally important area for clients is to hire the services of an astute freelance writer who can read content requirements and create informative copy based on those requirements. The decision is then left to the writer’s discretion as to which direction an article will take. This is when the writer puts on the mind reader’s hat and delves into the process of reading the client’s mind.

While this may seem like an impossible task, it isn’t. If a writer has previously written for a specific client, they already have an idea of what is required and can expand it by tapping into their basic knowledge base. If it’s a new client, research of the client’s website, blog, and social media pages presents a gold mine of helpful information. With this information, a writer can then use their mind reading skills to create content using their point of view, and/or experience to create content without being led by the hand.

There’s also the situation when clients can’t clearly define a path for the writer to take and/or aren’t sure how to achieve the results necessary for traffic to their site, which leads to confusing and contradictory instructions. This situation can also include lack of information about SEO optimization and keyword usage and placement. In this situation, even your best mind reading skills will be tested, but keep in mind, you’re the expert at “seeing” the big picture, as well as the person capable of guiding the client if, or when, they’re in need of insightful “mind reading” assistance.

Mind Reading Benefits for Clients

When it comes down to it, clients reap the rewards when they can tap into the mind reading techniques writers can offer.

  •  Trust – knowing the writer will provide a well-written piece that captures the client’s message.
  • Time saving –  involves establishing working relationships with writers who know what the client wants without their having to cross every “T” and dot every “I” in the writer’s instructions.
  • Confidence – a savvy, mind reading writer will take the lead and run with it, regardless of how limited the instructions may be.

Mind Reading Benefits for Writers

  • Asset – writers become viable assets to clients because of their ability to think outside of the box when necessary.
  • Clients – mind reading a client’s needs and then providing “on target” content is an opportunity to create long-lasting client relationships.
  • Competition – mind reading is a skill set and one that can put a writer ahead of their competition.

At the end of the day, donning the “mind reader” hat is a good thing, and just one of the many tools that keep the inner workings of a freelancer’s work day fine-tuned and up and running. While mind reading can be frustrating, embrace it and become brave, bold, and confident in your instincts to make the right decisions.

If mind reading comes naturally, use it to your advantage to explore opportunities, show off your creative side, and showcase your talent. If you’re in the process of perfecting your mind reading techniques, accept the fact that each time you take the initiative is one more positive step in your journey to success as a freelance writer.

About the author

Vickie Ferguson