Client: Can you do this for me by tomorrow, please?

Me: 😶🤔🤬🤯😥🛀👍

Those emojis sum up just some of the emotions I go through when clients ask for last-minute writing jobs.

By last minute, I mean anything with less than 48-hours notice, although usually it’s 24-hours or less.

While this isn’t something I see very often, it is something I’ve experienced more than once. It’s also something I highly recommend against for several reasons:

Errors are more likely to happen

Objectivity is a better editor than just about anything else. And the best way to become objective is time.

So, the more time someone has to work on a post, the more objective they’re going to be when editing it.

There’s no way around this step.

The time between creativity and objectivity does shorten as you become more experienced, but it never fully goes away.

Meaning the more rushed the job is, the more likely errors are to seep through.

When things are rushed, it’s also possible for mistakes to happen or things to get misread. There’s not enough time to digest the info sent, particularly if there’s a lot or if it’s a complicated industry.

Some businesses may not mind the odd typo or poorly explained thought, but if you’re picky about quality levels and don’t want to proofread something a freelancer has already sent you, a last-minute turnaround may not be what you really want.

Things aren’t usually explained in enough detail

The more rushed a job is, the more the client usually rushes to explain the brief, too. This means things often get left out because they’re rushing to get the brief sent over, but then it backfires because what they send is garbled, nonsensical, or just unhelpful.

The biggest issue I find is that rushed briefs don’t contain enough detail.

They’re often a bunch of brain dumps that require a mind reader (which most content writers aren’t) to make enough sense of them.

Usually, it contains a framework that would make sense for someone who had all the content information, but none of the actual content information that can be turned into a blog post or script.

I asked fellow ATOMICs* what they thought of last-minute writing jobs, and content writer Haley Walden had this to say about detail:

You’re more likely to miss important context or make mistakes on a rush job. Because the client is at a higher risk of leaving out important information because they’re in a rush, that puts the service provider at risk of delivering a work product that doesn’t quite hit the mark. This can result in frustration and unnecessary re-work to fix the problems, creating more stress and dissatisfaction for everyone involved.

Haley Walden, content writer

Which leads nicely on to my next point…

It’s stressful

Sometimes, when we have a great idea, we want it executed right away because it’s so bloody brilliant.

And I get that.

I’m surrounded by authors who have those brilliant ideas all the time.

But if novel writing has taught me anything, it’s that just about everything takes longer than you think it will.

I thought my latest book would have a quick turnaround, but it’s going to require more edits as the current antagonist just isn’t right. And that’s after having refined my planning and editing system over nineteen books.

Last-minute changes are stressful for a lot of writers, particularly those of us who are neurodivergent or have chronic health issues. It’s hard for our brains to adjust.

We want to be helpful, but sometimes our minds and bodies don’t cooperate. It’s not as simple as flicking a switch and being able to carry on like everything is fine.

Stress also leads to poorer mental health, and, for some of us, can cause issues such a brain fog.

Brain fog is the worst possible thing to happen to a writer, because it makes it difficult to think clearly or understand things.

And there’s really not much you can do once it kicks in. No amount of meditation, exercise, or healthy eating makes it go away when it’s stress-related.

The solution?

Don’t stress out your content writers!

It’ll cost you more

Often, last-minute writing jobs require writers to adjust their schedules. This affects their plans for the week, deliverables for other clients, and even the time they’d planned to relax or spend with loved ones. This additional admin work can sometimes take as much time and headspace as the actual writing, which is why it costs more.

General advice in the small business community is to charge double when someone wants a quick turnaround that affects your schedule.

Yes, that’s right: DOUBLE.

Some advisors would even suggest TRIPLE.

Can your budget really justify that?

Or can you just wait a bit longer?

I find that very few things are ever as urgent as we make them out to be. The stress usually isn’t worth it for anyone.

Your strategy is less likely to work

Your strategy can be the difference between the success or failure of a product launch. If it’s a rushed strategy, chances are, things are going to get missed and it may not work out as well as you’d hoped.

Content strategist Bailey Lewis summed it up perfectly:

From a content strategy point of view, individual jobs that ‘need’ to be done in such a rush make me question the level of thought and intention behind the piece the client is asking to be created. And without thought and intention, the content isn’t likely to do well anyway. Better to take the extra time and put it out after considering its place in the overall plan and strategy.

Bailey Lewis, Words First Content Strategy

Conclusion

I just want to highlight something Bailey said again:

Better to take the extra time and put it out after considering its place in the overall plan and strategy.

Bailey Lewis

When you do that, your content will have a much higher ROI. It’ll also be of a higher quality and be less stressful to create.

If your boss is forcing a rushed job on to you, consider why they’re doing it. Are they disorganised? Has something gone wrong? What is it that’s making the project so urgent? And is it really as urgent as it appears to be?

Last-minute writing jobs can be detrimental for a number of reasons. Errors are more likely to occur, things are more likely to get missed, it adds unnecessary stress, and it costs double—sometimes more—to complete.

In most cases, nothing is ever urgent enough to require such a short turnaround time. Audiences would prefer something polished went out later, than something that was rushed went out on the set date.

*Affiliate link, because ATOMIC is awesome.