Monday, February 04, 2008

The Ongoing Saga of a Problem Client

On Saturday, I blogged about what happened with a large amount of articles I had to turn in to a client, but just couldn’t seem to get going on. This goes back to last Thursday’s post. So, if you want to catch up to what this post is all about, start with this one first.

The cliffhanger was when I logged on Saturday to turn in the remainder of the article to the client and received a note from the company asking me to “halt production,” so to speak.

Here’s the latest:
Want to learn how to make at least $250/day writing simple 500-word articles? Read how here.
The note from my client said that he had a family emergency and wanted me to stop working on his article. I was a bit flummoxed by his message, because it just said he would contact me when his family crisis passed.

I don’t believe it’s the content because we had numerous conversations about exactly what he wanted beforehand.

And, I don’t think it was the missed deadline because: (i) it was only a few hours (from Friday night to Saturday morning); and (ii) as he only wanted me to write his content (and not one of the outsourcers I use), I had warned him that my schedule was extremely tight (even though I did promise him it would be done on Friday).

“So, what could be the problem?” you ask.

My gut is telling me this – the parameters of the project have changed. I get this feeling because of a few things:

Common Problems with an Uncommon Client

(i) Client doesn’t know what they want: In my conversations with this client, I could tell that he didn’t exactly know what he wanted. The reason we’ve had numerous conversations (which is a rarity with the bulk of my clients) is because of clarification issues.

Usually, I rely on clients to tell me what they want. Eg, I have a website about weddings. I want five articles on these keyword phrases. The density is to be between 3-5%. The topics are as follows, blah, blah, blah.

The first clue that I had that this client was not knowledgeable about SEO is that he asked me what keyword density was. Now, I don’t mind working with clients who don’t understand SEO, but don’t leave me to believe that you do when you don’t.

As we got more comfortable with each other, he flat out stated that I was the expert and to use my opinion on which phrases to optimize for. Okay, one issue down.

(ii) Unclear directions: The next issue I had with this client is the way he gave direction. He wasn’t rude or anything; I’m referring to his unclear manner of explaining things. You know how you have something worked out in your head and when you go to explain it to somebody else they just don’t seem to get it?

And, once they start asking you questions you realized that you’ve skipped over some rudimentary steps because, after all, you know what you’re trying to say. THAT’S what I mean.

Once I got the hang of what he was saying, I parroted back to him what he wanted for clarification. This took some doing, mind you. I don’t charge consultation fees, but some clients make you seriously consider it.

Taking into account the number of hours I spent on the phone with him, I was easily out about three hours.

(iii) Non-business hours communication: About 95 percent of my client interaction is via email – and that’s the way I like it. This client, however, prefers phone communication.

While I’m mostly fine with that, I don’t like to take phone calls on the weekends, which is when this client has a penchant for calling. I finally overcame this issue by telling him in a polite way that I’m not accessible via phone on the weekends, but that he could feel free to contact me via email and I would get back to him during weekday business hours. He got the message.

I received the check in the mail today for the project (he’d asked me to pre-submit an invoice and sent it off before I even started on the last batch of articles), and my contractual obligations have been fulfilled.

Why Some Clients Cost You Money & What You Can Do About It

Now, I’m just waiting to see what this latest wrinkle in the project is to determine if I want to continue working with him. As outlined in Tip #2 in this article, some clients cost you money, and you have to really weigh if its worth keeping them on as clients.

While he’s a very nice client with a lot of work, he takes up a lot of my time, which is one of my pet peeves when it comes to business. I like to work with clients who give me a project, put a deadline on it and leave me alone to get it done.

If anybody’s interested, I’ll post an update once I speak to him. And, that’s the latest folks.

Hope y’all (yes, I’m southern!) had a good weekend, and don’t forget to vote tomorrow of your state is holding a primary election.

Yuwanda Black, Publisher
How to Start a Successful Freelance Writing Career Newsletter

P.S: The next newsletter will be published on February 6th. Have you subscribed yet?
Read Freelance Success Stories! There are freelancers who make very good livings at what they love. Inkwell Editorial's newsletter features these successful professionals who put to rest the phrase, "starving freelancer." Subscribe to read this , and all previous, issues.

Previous Issue: How Much Do Freelance Web Writers Really Make? This issue features a roundup of freelance writer income from around the web. Features salaries from a few hundred a month, to a website that earns over $30,000/month -- and the site owner doesn't even sell anything! Subscribe to read this , and all previous, issues.

Current Issue. Spotlight on SEO Content Writing: How to make money at it, effective marketing tips and more. Long-time freelancer Sharon Hurley Hall shares her success tips on this and so much more. Sharon can be found online at and Subscribe to read this , and all previous, issues.
Copyright © 2008 Freelance success stories, e-courses, advice on the business of freelancing, and more! Get the e-report, How to Make at Least $100/Day as a Freelance Writer -- free! Log on to for details. Except where noted, no part of this site may be reproduced in any manner without the express, written consent of the publisher. Violators will be prosecuted.

No comments: