It’s a fact of life in freelancing. Eventually you’re going to be stuck with people with habit and business practices which are annoying at best, completely infuriating at their worst. What to do? Here are my top five strategies–things I use whenever dealing with these people and their clueless behavior:
5. Risk Management. If I can spot them coming before I am entangled with them, I try to avoid ’em completely. Sometimes you can’t, so I make sure I define my terms and conditions to the letter in order to head off the endless revisions or pointlessly long conference calls ahead of the game.
4. Get Paid According to the Level of Hassle. Part of defining terms ahead of time for me is getting paid more money for being subjected to a client’s boorish behavior. Those endless conference calls? I bill them. Those additional rewrites for no real reason? Ditto. People get pain and suffering compensation in lawsuits, why shouldn’t you get the same kind of compensation for dealing with a jackass client?
3. Keep Records. A jackass client will turn on you suddenly and demand extra services or other hassles based on what they claim is non-delivery or delivery that fails to live up to the agreement. Don’t be taken by surprise by this, no matter how nice they’re acting lately the potential is ALWAYS there. Get everything in writing even if that’s just you keeping careful notes for yourself.
2. Time Management. Don’t let your crappy clients steal time away from your GOOD clients. I would rather ask for an extension on a deadline from a crap client than a good one any day of the week. Pick your battles well.
1. Give As Good As You Get. The client that takes a full week to get back with you shouldn’t expect you to jump the second the e-mail hits your inbox. I try to “train” my clients to expect the same level of response and attention they give to me. Some get the hint, others don’t. My time is valuable–it’s worth a lot of money–and I try to convey that wherever possible.
One way I do this is by subtly reminding the clients that I work for other people, too. It’s easy to assume a freelancer is at your disposal. I never let that impression happen–I am always talking about other activities in a vague way. “Oh, sorry–I’m not available at 2PM, I’ve already got a meeting scheduled with one of my other clients.”