Clients from hell. We’ve all had them, right?
There’s the client who doesn’t get it, the client who’s cheap, the client who’s nasty, the client who asks too much, the client who doesn’t give us enough, the client who wants it all yesterday, the client who pays in two years, the client who doesn’t understand value, the client who treats you badly, the client who lacks two bits of brain to rub together…
Yeah. The list goes on. Clients from hell are the people we all hope we never do business with. Ever, ever, ever. Continue Reading
There are just some clients who you no longer want to work with. It could be that the client in question is difficult to work with or it could be more a matter that you’ve moved on from the type of work you’ve been doing for that client. Whether you’ve only done a little work for the client or you’ve been together a long time, it’s never easy to fire a client. Not only do you have to get past the freelancer’s natural reluctance to give up money, but you’ve got to make the break in such a way that the client will still speak positively about you to other prospective clients. Continue Reading
For some reason, which is probably embedded in my DNA, I’ve never been very good devising short, catchy descriptions of what I do for and how people will benefit from it. It’s to the point where, if someone asks, I’ll say, “I mangle elevator speeches!” Or words to that effect.
This is a common affliction, and one that isn’t just limited to creative freelancers. A few years ago, I was listening to a radio comedy show that is famous (or infamous) for the host’s penchant for wandering around the theater and mingling with audience members. During one broadcast, the host encountered a dentist. When asked what he did for a living, the dentist said, “I’m a smile designer.”
I could have sworn that I heard that man grimacing over the radio. He was obviously uncomfortable using such clever marketing-speak to describe his profession.
What’s worse, the host and the rest of the audience found the concept of “smile designer” to be hilariously funny. I’m willing to bet that the dentist went back to using the D-word to describe himself.
Okay, so you’re not a dentist. And you don’t play one on the radio. But you’re still going to be faced with situations when catchy self-introductions are called for. How can you make them work for you? Here are three solutions: Continue Reading
When dealing with clients and potential clients, it’s important to understand that what they’re saying is not the same as what they mean, and how to react. Let’s look at these five examples:
“I’ll keep you in mind.”
You’ll often hear this when you’re prospecting for new business. It’s a nice-sounding sentence that may put you in a hopeful frame of mind. But don’t be fooled. People have lots of other things to think about beside you and your business. It’s your job to stay top-of-mind with them. So, with their permission, add them to your e-mail newsletter list or RSS feed. Ask them to follow you on Twitter or join your social network. Arrange to meet with them in person. Stay in touch with periodic phone calls. Learn other methods of staying in touch. Continue Reading
I recently had a project that did not end well. In a nutshell, the client refused to work with me to revise his copy and simply insisted he didn’t like it. He didn’t even give me the chance to improve upon it. Without his effort, I was left to retort to the middleman who brought us together. Even though that relationship blossomed because we both realized this particular client wasn’t our ideal type, I was still left with a bad taste in my mouth regarding the sour client.
Sometimes, you work with people that refuse to work with you. They give you little direction and expect miracles. And even when you flex your customer service muscle and offer to help, there’s no getting through to this type of person. Or you may have worked with a client that treated you poorly.
One of my favorite shows on television is called “Flipping Out,” and it’s about a California house flipper with obsessive-compulsive disorder named Jeff. He drives everyone nuts and is, let’s just say, extremely detail oriented.
In one of the episodes, his assistant talks about dealing with Jeff’s ups and downs. She says that sometimes you “take it.” Meaning, in any job there will be things you don’t like—and sometimes you have to just accept it. Sometimes, you take it. Not all the time, but sometimes.
I think about that saying a lot, because I see a lot of freelancers that don’t “take it” or take, well, anything. While there’s nothing wrong with ditching a client you don’t like, some freelancers bail the second they are told what to do or feel uncomfortable. That’s not such a bad thing if you really are not feeling it, but if you get into that mode, you’ll never develop client relationships.
Some clients just keep asking for a little more: a four page website design can turn into a design plus copy or even a design plus copy plus marketing. It often happens just a little request at a time, as the scope of the project creeps ever larger. Scope creep isn’t always an entirely bad thing, of course. As long as your clients are willing to pay for the work that goes along with a bigger project, it can be beneficial. Depending on the situation, there are several responses you can offer to a client with a case of scope creep. Continue Reading
Setting your rates as a freelancer can be a tough decision. You have to determine what amount you have to earn each hour in order to not only pay your bills but have a little extra left over. You have to decide what your work is worth. You have to decide what clients will be willing to pay. And once you’ve spent all that time and energy figuring out your rates, a client will come along and want to negotiate an entirely different rate.
Some clients are happy to pay you for your work as soon as they get the finished product. Others make a tortoise look speedy when it comes time to cut you a check. The slow-pokes tend to fall into two different categories: clients who are going to do everything they can to avoid paying you and those that just haven’t managed to pay you yet. There are plenty of remedies for that first group, from lawsuits to collection agencies. But what about the folks that are just behind because of cashflow or paperwork?
There are a few ways that you can speed up the payment process, making certain clients easier to work with.
So you’ve hired a freelancer to help you achieve your business goals. Now what?
It’s vitally important that you, as the client, do your part in fostering a positive working relationship with your contractor. Embarking on a new project can be overwhelming, especially if it involves technical aspects (such as web design). That’s why you’ve hired an expert!
But in order to make your project a success, you need to develop a solid working relationship, and be aware of some basic “rules” when working with a freelancer.
The first few years of my career as a freelancer, I figured that an in-person meeting was logical in order to get jobs. After all, not everyone is comfortable hiring someone they have never met face-to-face.
And it does make sense for clients to want to meet with a prospective freelancer, but I have come to observe the same thing with most face-to-face meetings: They don’t land the work for me.
At first, I thought it was me; that I wasn’t getting the jobs because I didn’t present myself well in person or did not do enough to hook the client. Perhaps my portfolio was lacking, I figured. But after finding out that many of the people I met with had postponed their project or still have yet to complete it, I’ve realized that there has to be more to it. It’s them…the prospective clients.
Business depends on communication, and communication is a two-way street. Not only do we need to develop the skill not just of making ourselves understood clearly and accurately, but we need to return the favor and put some effort into understanding the other person.
In a recent article I talked about the value of active listening for improving business. Only 35% of communication is contained in the actual words we are hearing or reading. The other 65% of the message is contained in body language, facial expression, tone and rate of speech, and other non-verbal aspects of communication. Active listening techniques can help us make the most of that 65%.