Reasons to Avoid Local Ghostwriting Clients

Reasons to Avoid Local Ghostwriting Clients



When we were first starting out, many of us were taught to look first for business in our own backyard. Meaning, there are likely new clients in need of writing services in our own zip code, or not too far away.

The fact that they are so close by is enticing, making it seem somewhat easier to get new business, right? I mean, you might be in line at Starbucks behind a doctor who has been thinking about penning a book, or at the theater seated next to a CEO who has been thinking about handing off his article-writing responsibilities to a local pro. The possibilities are exciting.

Proximity to prospects is presumably why ghostwriters and other creative professionals invest time in networking locally. They hope to meet or be introduced to someone who needs their skill-set and is willing to pay for it, so they go to cocktail hours, dinner meetings, breakfast get-togethers, and join civic organizations, professional groups, and networking circles.

Think about all the time you could spend trying to connect with someone locally who needs your services.

Let me tell you, it can be extremely time-consuming. I know because I went this route. And I did get business, so it’s not a bad strategy if you’re looking to fill your schedule.

However, what I noticed is that local clients are inefficient, for lack of a better word. Many think nothing of calling a meeting to discuss something that could be covered in a 10-minute phone call. But since you’re “just down the road,” they think, why not have you drop by.

Clients several states away would never think of flying you in for a relatively unimportant discussion, but local clients are prone to expect regular attendance, because you’re conveniently nearby. That means you need to put aside other work, dress up to look like a professional, get in your car or head to the subway, all just to be seen at the conference table. Then you need to reverse that process, eating up valuable time while in transit. Time that few clients pay for.

So a few years ago I decided that I really preferred out-of-town clients, and here’s why:

  • You don’t waste time and money traveling to meetings. Phone calls and emails take care of 99.99-100% of needed communication.
  • Your days aren’t broken up by out-of-office appointments.
  • Few meetings are called that require your participation.
  • If you’re not pursuing a local clientele, you don’t need to join local networking organizations and make an effort to be seen by them. More time saved.

It all comes down to time and how you want to spend it.

The more hours in a day that you spend attending meetings or traveling to them, the less time you have for paying client work. Personally, I’d rather be sitting at my computer generating income than traipsing across town to meet in person with someone I could just as easily connect with by phone or Skype.

Do you agree, or are there advantages of local clients I’ve overlooked?

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Marcia Layton Turner


  1. Richard Lowe on November 24, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    Actually, I have had two large local clients recently, and they don’t demand in-person meetings. I’ve also had a dozen smaller clients, smaller books, and most of them preferred the phone or email They are busy and don’t have the time for the in person either.

    I include in my SOW, for local clients, that in-person meetings are charged at an hourly rate, while email and phone are part of the quoted rate.

    Problem solved.

  2. Dennis Briskin on November 25, 2015 at 2:04 am

    Very sensible and efficient. I have gotten good clients both locally and remotely. This post does give me pause before running out to do more face time and networking.

    Question leaping to my mind: How do you find and use good places to prospect for clients? Where do my kind of clients (people with money, commitment and a message or story) lurk? Joining AOG has been a good but slow way to find more clients. In a bit more than a year, I have gotten one $2,000 job which could have lead to a full-on book project but she chose someone else.

  3. Mike Wicks on December 5, 2015 at 5:19 pm

    You make some very good points Marcia, I just wish it was easier for me here on Vancouver Island to convince U.S. clients that we can efficiently work together on a book even if we are a few thousand miles apart.

    I suppose we should all learn to do more online networking.

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