While it doesn’t happen often, sometimes you’ll have a client send you a message or an email stating that the topic they requested and you wrote isn’t the topic that their client wanted. This typically happens when your direct client is actually a middleman between the writer and the actual website owner or business.

Don’t Work for Free

The first thing you should know is that it’s not your fault the client didn’t like the topic the middleman or the website owner selected. You are not a mind reader. You can only work off the information that you received in order to write the topic. If the client changes the topic, you are not obligated to write it for free. The client paid for the first topic, and you wrote it, which means you fulfilled your obligation.

When a client changes a topic and essentially wants a second article, they must pay for that second article.


How to Professionally and Politely Tell a Client that They Must Pay for Two Articles

I just want to tell you that no one likes this scenario. Your client doesn’t like it because they had to email or message you about a second topic. You don’t like it because you only have two choices. You can write the second article for free, or you can do what I am suggesting and tell the client they have to pay for two articles. The first scenario doesn’t require much communication other than – Okay, I’ll get right on that. However, you need to understand that your time and your skill as a professional content writer are valuable. All great quality articles take time and effort to research properly, write and proofread, and there are only so many hours in the day.


What to say to Your Client After They Request a Free Second Article

It’s important to handle this with professionalism and finesse, so you might want to say something like:

Dear (name),

I am so sorry that you do not like the original topic. I understand that these things happen and sometimes they can be unforeseen. Unfortunately, I cannot provide second articles for free. Your original article took time to research, write and proofread so that it would be of exceptional quality, and you could use it right away on your website, and your second topic would require the same amount of time to research, write and proofread. Therefore, I do have to request that you purchase the second article.

Thanks so much!

Your Name

Sometimes this goes well, and the client pays for the second article. Sometimes, this goes badly, and they refuse to pay for the second article.

What to Do if Your Client Refuses to Pay for the Second Article

When a client refuses to pay for the second article, your options depend on how you received that article. Did they order it through your website, or did you get the article from a content mill?

If the Order Was Through a Content Mill

If you received the article from a content mill, you immediately pause the article, if that’s an option, and email the staff. In your email to the content mill staff, explain that the client ordered X topic and now wants to change that topic without paying for a second order. The staff of the content mill will contact the client and explain the procedure for changing the topic of the article. At this point, the client is either going to agree to pay for the second article, or they are going to refuse. If they agree, you’ll see a second order. If they decline, then the staff will message or email you and explain your choices. Typically, they’ll be three options.

  • The content mill will pay you for the article you wrote. This means your platform owns the rights to the article, and you get paid.

  • The content mill will tell you that you can drop the order without penalty. You will not get paid for this option, but you still own the article you wrote.

  • You must write the second article for free (or risk penalties to your account). You keep the rights to the first article, but you do not get paid for the second. This one will probably piss you off, and you’ll probably not do any more work for the client in the future. It’ll also affect how you view the content mill and their support of their writers.

If the Article Came Through Your Website via a Private Client

If the article came from a private client, and they are refusing to pay for the second article, you have to decide the best way to handle the situation. Sometimes, their email will simply state that they don’t have any funds for the second article, but they will take the first, and they understand that you cannot write the second article for free. Sometimes, they’ll tell you that they can’t pay for the second and can’t use the first and demand a refund.

In both of these scenarios, you’ll probably never see that client again. This isn’t your fault. It isn’t necessarily the client’s fault either, and it falls under “shit happens”. In order to stem any future hassles, you may opt to provide the client with a refund. This means that you retain the rights to the article you wrote and can do with it what you please. I would probably block the client’s IP address after I provided the refund, because I don’t want to deal with this scenario twice from the same client.

You can refuse to issue a refund. In this scenario, the client has the rights to the article, and they’re probably pissed because they can’t use it. However, you got paid for your time and effort. You will most likely never see this client again. The most obnoxious clients will try to get a refund by initiating it through their payment method, and you may have to deal with that by providing information on what they ordered, when it was delivered, and your refund policy as well as any other information requested.


If the Private or Content Mill Client Is a Regular Client

It’s important to understand that regular clients get preferential treatment. If you’ve gotten several orders from this particular client and you've been working with them for months or years, it’s certainly in your best interest to write that second article for free. In this instance, you’d simply tell the client that it’s not typically your policy to write second articles for free, but you will do it for them. In this scenario, you keep the first article, and you write the second article for no additional charge. It’s just best to keep your regular clients happy, especially if you’ve never encountered this scenario from this particular client before. If this becomes a regular issue with the client in question, eventually, you’ll have to put your foot down.

If the Client Requesting the Free Article has Proven to Be Difficult

In this scenario, you have to determine what it’s worth. If this particular client whether new or old has suddenly become very difficult and time-consuming to work with, you probably don’t want any more articles or projects from them in the future. In order to get rid of them quickly without any further communication, you’d write the second article and keep the first and never work with them again. This means you’d decline all future work from them and move on to look for better clients that are easier to work with and hopefully pay more.

It’s important to understand that there are no right or wrong ways to handle this scenario as long as you handle it with professionalism. I typically handle these scenarios on a case-by-case basis.