Know When to Stop Talking
I think I experienced a new first for me in my life of freelancing. I responded to a tweet looking for a copywriter to do some basic web copy.
I responded, and chatted with the client for a little bit, discussing his needs and my offerings. Things were moving in the right direction. He seemed to be happy with the price I quoted, and I felt like I had a decent handle on what his expectations were.
Towards the end of the discussion, the conversation that had started out fairly professional had become almost casual. He asked me a question about a marketing concept, and I shared my thoughts about it. I understood the concept, but I told him it was tired and probably wasn’t a good fit for his product. And then the call got very quiet. He was still very polite, and said he would be in touch with me to get the project started, but I haven’t heard from him in a week now.
I’m pretty sure I successfully managed to talk my way out of a new project. Yay. But at least I learned when to stop talking.
I think my fatal mistake was interpreting his casual tone as an indicator that the job was in the bag, when I should have listened more, and talked less. In retrospect, there were a few indications that he was interested in this marketing concept, and I could have been more sensitive with the answer I gave him. Some might argue that I should be happy not to have to work with a client that wants to use stale concepts; that the client isn’t always right. I think in this case, the client gets what he wants from you, or he goes to someone else. You’re welcome, whoever won this new project.
It would seem that there are two types of clients available to the freelancer; those that come to you for your advice and expertise in your field, and those that come to you to execute the instructions you are given. The trick is learning how to figure out which is which.