Have you ever pitched your freelance writing services to someone, and then received literally dozens or even hundreds of emails from them before they signed up for your services…if ever? Yeah, me too!
There are two main phases in the customer/supplier relationship:
If you find you’re spending more and more time corresponding with your client pre-contract, your profits on that project will getting eaten up before the client even commits. In these cases, you might want to consider adding extra to your quote to accommodate the additional time you’ll need to spend on this troublesome client.
There are six types of clients that seem to exhibit this time-wasting behavior:
This is the client that will start off by sending you a few questions, and will then, out of the blue, tell you that he just got back from his grandmother’s birthday party. And, then he will send you a detailed list of everyone who attended, what they were wearing, and which relative didn’t get along. He’ll end his email with another question about your service. Of course, you’ll have to be polite and make a comment about Grandma’s birthday party before answering his question or he’ll think you’re a jerk. He will then email you about the fantastic steak he had for lunch (along with the appetizer, what he drank, the dessert, and the restaurant decor), and will then ask you to clarify a price you quoted. His next email will be a looooooong story about a prank he and his buddy played in college (and about how he got arrested but his friend didn’t, and how much money he had to pay in restitution, and how funny it still is to think about it after all these years), etc., etc.
If and when this client finally commits, you can bet he will continue to send you long, non-work-related stories, and he will expect you to respond to all of those. Keep that in mind before sending him your final quote. Or, simply tell him you can no longer offer your services to him.
This is the client who, rather then adding the desired start date of his project to his calendar, he instead counts on fresh, new email from you appearing near the top of his in-box to remind him that the project is on his radar. However, since you’re not a spammer, he can’t receive another email from you unless he sends one to you. These are often short, chatty emails that may not even be related to his impending project (i.e. “Hi there! Just letting you know I attended my class reunion last weekend and I’m back at work now and I fully intend to sign your contract soon. How are you?”).
I had been dealing with one particular “In-Box Ian” for more than a year. He would send weekly emails of this nature. Last month, I figured I’d spent enough time talking about his nosy neighbor, TV shows he’d watched the previous evening, and the weather. I simply stopped responding to his emails. Guess what? He finally signed up.
This is the client who will ask you one question, and click the send button. Then think of another one, and click the send button. And then another, send, etc. – all in the space of a few minutes. You will wake up each morning to a few or a dozen or more emails in your in-box from this client. This is always a sure-sign of a disorganized client so you should consider the added time that will be required to work with him before sending your final quote.
NEVER GONNA COMMIT NANCY
This is the client who continues to email you months after you provided her with detailed information and quotes…saying she’s still trying to decide if she wants to proceed with the project at all. If three months go by and she hasn’t committed, she probably never will. Don’t waste your time continuing to market to someone who is never going to get the project done.
This is the client who hems and haws for months on end, asking you one question after another about your competitors, asking for service and price comparisons, asking how your service differs from others, etc., etc. I don’t mind answering one or two emails about competitors but, after that, I will tell the potential client to Google that firm’s name and their question. This may sound mean but I honestly don’t have time to do competitive research for people for weeks or months on end.
NO HURRY NAOMI
This is the client who admits she is in no hurry to get this project finished. She might even tell you she will want to do it sometime later this year, or next year, or maybe in March of the following year. Yet, she continues to bombard you with emails asking for advice. I recommend telling this client to wait to contact you until one month before she is ready to proceed. If she continues to bombard you with emails, you might want to consider cutting this type of client loose. Tell her you can only answer further questions after she signs up. I have done this before and, surprisingly, this spurs them to go ahead and sign the contract.
DO YOU HAVE EXAMPLES OF PAIN IN THE (BLEEP) CLIENTS? PLEASE SHARE THEM IN THE COMMENTS BOX BELOW!
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- Charge Your Clients by the MINUTE?? Sure! Here’s How and Why… – By Sharon Woodhouse
- How to Deal With Your Clients’ TERRIBLE Ideas By Ryan Leclaire
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33 Worst Mistakes Writers Make About Blind Characters
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Another useful and in some cases, all too familiar, article topic. I have seen the ‘NO HURRY NAOMI’ a couple of times myself.
Here is another one –
I just finished pricing some options for a client who wanted everything. The (potential) bill would have run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, category.
Now they were gung-ho about the project to begin with, but were not interested in a ‘Plan B &C’ options.
The long and the short — I will never hear from them again.
A great article with loads of helpful advice. Thanks!
Ouch! During my 15 years as an independent book ghostwriter, I’ve had close encounters of the bad kind with Charles, Ian 1 and 2, Sam, Nancy, Naomi and most of their living relatives. The worst are time-wasters who attempt to pick my brain at no charge, decide that they’ll wait a few months (or forever) to get started, then use what I’ve shared to their advantage. Over time, I’ve learned to use your valuable techniques just to keep my head from exploding but you’re offered a couple of new ones I will incorporate immediately.
Thanks for continuing to share your experiences so that your loyal readers can avoid some pitfalls.