Writer’s Dilemma

You are a contract writer. You freelance for a living. One of your clients asks you for help with a project, and you agree to a meeting. When you get to the meeting, your client tells you about her client–a company that needs some help organizing their website, creating a site that’s easier to navigate. You ask a few questions, and the job seems like a good fit. The pay is in line with what you ask. You agree.

And then you find out your client’s client is a company whose goals you disagree with. Not just a little. A lot. There’s a wide breach between your beliefs and the company’s. What do you do? Refuse to take on the job? Tell your original client that you disagree with the viewpoints and turn down the job? Take the job, send a big invoice, and run?pencil.jpg

Here are a few things to think about while you are struggling with your authenticity and the money.

–If the client’s values are repugnant to you, if you find the company unethical or immoral, don’t take the job. No amount of money will make you feel right about it, and you can’t do a good job. While you are speaking with your client, ask who the organization is. If you recognize the name, you can turn it down right away. If your client can’t reveal the name of the organization, you might want to reserve the right to withdraw once you research them. Give a deadline–24 hours.

–If the client represents a different viewpoint from yours, even one you strongly disagree with, consider taking the job. Every writer should be exposed to views they don’t agree with. It’s good for you–it helps you question your assumptions, see facts from a different perspective, and open your mind.

–If you take the job, you are required to do your best work. Every web reader deserves to read clear, concise, well-written copy. Your calling as a writer is your priority. You deliver well-written, well-organized, logical and precise writing. This is what every organization should be required to put on the web.

There are more than 100 million websites in cyberspace. Almost all of them are badly reasoned, horribly written and cramped with confusing and irritating navigation. A few stand out as beacons of clarity. You can contribute to the small number of sites filled with intelligent writing and good explanations. You can help others understand what the client wants to say, what they stand for. Every company deserves to have their cause clearly spelled out to let the readers understand and choose.

It’s your choice to contribute or step away. Think before you do.

Examples of badly organized and hard to navigate websites.

Studies, articles, and common sense from Jakob Nielsen, information design guru.

Examples and help on writing, everything from columns to budgets.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer, certified creativity coach and artist. See her work at QuinnCreative.com