… as my grandad used to say.
I’ll be honest with you: business stank in December, January and February. I don’t know what happened. It just disappeared. I spent the time productively, developing my own tools for measuring and monitoring, chasing leads and – heaven forfend – indulging in online advertising, but it was quite disheartening. I could understand December because people are generally too knackered or too busy (or both) to start new projects off. Other freelancers I spoke to said they experienced the same thing so, note to self: go for a nice wintersun holiday in December from now on.
Still, January didn’t improve and neither did February. I was starting to get worried. Was I losing my mojo? Because I did have some, once. Or perhaps I was just stunningly lucky when I started off freelance.
However, there are certain shall we say ‘practices’ which don’t help freelancers. They generally fall into these categories, in ascending order of irritation:
- A prospective client asks for a quote. I send the client a quote. The client doesn’t reply. I chase three more times. The client doesn’t reply. I give up. This is fair enough – this is all prospective and there are no obligations on either side. But it’s a bit, well, rude.
- A prospective client asks for a quote. I send the client a quote. The client says they’re going to consider it. That’s fine. They responded, but deep down I kind of know it’s not going to happen. They get a ‘5’ score on my little spreadsheet. If you want to know whether it’s good or bad, I’ll tell you that it automatically gets shaded in black.
- A client says “Yes, let’s do it.” We all wave our arms in the air. They move up to a ‘2’ on my spreadsheet which is a nice shade of orange. Then they realise they might actually have to do something such as review content or supply material. And they disappear. Again.
- An existing client disappears. That is, you thought you were working together, and the client keeps coming up with excuses, usually “I’m ill” or “I’m busy”. Fine, I wait until they’re better or less busy. The client doesn’t reply. I chase three more times. The client doesn’t reply. I give up. This is, in my opinion, not fair enough. At all. It’s about as rude as it gets, short of giving you the finger.
What I really don’t like about these scenarios is that people think it makes life easier just to disappear. What’s wrong with being honest? I mean, why not just say “We don’t need what you offer” or “You’re too expensive” or “We think you smell”? I’d rather have this than radio silence. Besides, if they tell me I might be able to do something about it. Particularly the smell.
But I’ve noticed things suddenly pick up. I haven’t been doing anything different. I’ve just had people who understand the value of relationships, who kept in contact, and who now have work for me. They’re all at ‘number one’, which is red hot. Hurray.
I don’t want this to be a gripe because I seem to have been doing that a lot recently, but here’s the lesson: it might be easy to ignore a freelancer, and you obviously think it’s just you doing it and no one else, and I’ll play by the rules and leave you alone, but don’t forget that freelancers work with all sorts of clients on a daily basis. Inevitably we chew the fat with people who hire us. And whereas we’re discreet – or at least I am – and never bad-mouth a client, we will also talk glowingly about people we like and just not mention ‘the disappeared’ at all.
So if you want a mention, even if you don’t want my work, then be honest with me. If you just disappear, you’ll disappear.