Reasons I provide a sign-off form

This post expands on something I wrote on the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) forum a while ago. It was in response to a fellow member’s query about how to get feedback from clients, and I’m sure anyone who works as a freelance or on a project-by-project basis will know how difficult this can be.

A sign-off form is a relatively new addition to my documentation process, but it has proved to be an effective tool for gaining feedback. Previously, I was worried about asking for my client’s opinion of my work. (My thought stream sounded something like this: what if they hate my work? What if they hate me? What if they tell everyone I’m useless and I never get any work again and I starve to death and am eaten by my cats? Or worse, I have to go back to working in admin. Or retail.) But over time I have realised that isn’t very conducive to personal and professional progression. And, actually, most people are nice and want to say nice things. The client sign-off form has facilitated a significant boost to my confidence.

feedbackI first started using the sign-off form as a condition of my professional indemnity insurance (my insurer prefers that there is a documented sign-off where the client accepts the work I have done). The form simply asks the client to confirm that they have received the project and that it has been completed according to the brief and any terms and conditions. I have then added space (a comment box) for the client to use to leave any feedback they might want to give. There are two main reasons I added that box:

  1. It’s an easy way to get a testimonial. I find it awkward to ask directly, and it doesn’t put any pressure on the client to provide one. They simply can if they wish. (But I make it clear on the form that I might use their feedback for promotional purposes unless they tell me they would prefer otherwise.)
  2. I want to know if the way I have the approached the project is the best way for them. This is particularly important for clients I hope to develop a long-lasting relationship with. Some publishers like things done slightly differently to others, which might not have been mentioned in the brief. If I know what the client likes, I can do it. The form signals to the client that I want, and am prepared for, constructive feedback.

Nearly every client I have sent a sign-off form to has returned it, and returned it with positive feedback. I’ve had positive comments about the use of the form itself, so I’m reassured that it comes across as a thoughtful and professional document. This has led me to consider, so far, that the sign-off form has been a success. Once you have the template ready to go, it takes hardly any time at all to produce, and it is quick for the client to complete while still allowing for more specific detail than tick-boxes or similar.

Any fellow freelancers have suggestions for effective ways to get useful feedback? I’d love to know.


Working with Raynaud’s

I’ve mentioned before that I have Raynaud’s syndrome. It’s a fairly common condition that affects the supply of blood to parts of the body, usually the hands and feet.

The temperature has recently dipped into the minus figures and managing Raynaud’s has become a significant part of my work routine. I need to be able to use my hands to type and to mark up accurately on hard copy, so keeping warm is extremely important. You might think that I could just whack the heating up and be done with it, but it doesn’t seem to work like that (and I wear contact lenses – the central heating dries them up into tiny plastic shards of agony). Also, all-day heating is really expensive.

I start each day with a brisk walk to get the blood pumping. I find it an effective way to mentally set myself up for the day and the dog is delightful company. It is, of course, important to wrap up warmly (including a hat because so much warmth escapes from the top of your head) and wear proper walking shoes – I recently changed mine because they had started to leak and that’s a sure-fire way to turn your feet into ice blocks.


I then do the following during the day:

  • Wear warm and comfortable clothes. Anything that feels restrictive is a no-no. Socks and multiple layers are musts.
  • Wear fingerless gloves. I have several pairs and some of them contain silver, which is supposed to minimise heat loss (and it does in my experience).
  • Put a hot water bottle under my desk to rest my feet on. I find warming my feet helps to warm the rest of me quicker.
  • Keep a blanket over the back of my chair so I can put it over my legs if I need to.
  • Make sure I keep moving. I try to move my feet around when I’m sitting at my desk and I get up and walk around at least once every hour to stimulate my circulation.
  • Have a hot drink in the morning and the afternoon between meals. I find just holding a warm mug soothes and loosens my hands.
  • Have a hot meal at lunch. The body needs fuel to keep warm and the warmth of the food will also help. I like soup and pasta (I probably like pasta too much).

These are very simple things that make a big difference, and the time I lose due to an attack has drastically reduced.

Do you have Raynaud’s? Does it affect you when you’re working?  Do you have any tips for keeping warm? I’d love to read your experiences.

Further reading: