Monday, May 31, 2010

Knowing When to Walk Away

In my four years of relying on freelancing to earn a living, I’ve learned a lesson that ranks right up there with the importance of consistent marketing – you have to know when to walk away.

One of the biggest surprises of my freelancing career was learning that every client that comes your way is not necessarily a good fit. I so wanted to believe otherwise, and as a result I’ve been burned. Badly. I’ve posted entries detailing warning signs that you’re entering into a bad client situation, and I hope the information helps. But in my personal experience, time has been the best teacher. By now I’ve gotten myself caught up in enough nerve wracking situations that now when I get a certain feeling, I know it’s better to cut my losses and just walk away. The money is rarely ever worth the trouble.

I had an experience just this past weekend. I’d been communicating with a prospective client for a couple of weeks. The client contacted me last week to say that she was interested in having me write a 50+ page report for her company, but they were still deliberating between me and another writer. No biggie. I thanked them for their consideration and offered to provide additional information if necessary.

On Saturday morning I woke to find an email from the prospect. She had decided to go with me, even though the other writer had more experience and provided them with more examples of his work (I sent over one ebook sample I’d written and distributed to several of my clients a year ago). I responded by thanking her for offering me the project, and explained that I would be contacting her on Tuesday to discuss the details.

Thirty minutes later I received another message. This one explained how frustrated the company was because the other writer refused to answer one of the questions they posed, and although he provided more samples than I did (again this was mentioned), including one written on the topic they needed, this worried them a great deal.

An hour later I received two more messages; the first message continued on about the other writer avoiding their questions, and last one stated that if I lived up to their expectations I could expect more work in the pipeline. Just so you know I had already laced up my running shoes by the time I’d received that second email.

Clearly this client was still unsure about the choice she was making, and her constant need for reassurance indicated that I would be completely and utterly at her beck and call at all hours if I took this job. I don’t work well that way, I’m more of a “works well with minimal supervision” kind of girl. The money was good, but I can only imagine what I would have endured if I’d accepted.

I sent a brief message sincerely thanking her for the offer and declined the project. I explained that I’m unable to send her copies of ebooks and reports I’ve ghostwritten for other clients because of disclosure agreements – that’s why I only sent copies of documents I’d published on my own for distribution, after all she only needed a sample of my writing style.

There are several reasons you may find yourself having to walk away – money issues, a disrespectful client, a client who really doesn’t know what he wants, a controlling client. We all come face to face with these situations eventually. Trust me, walking away with your sanity intact is the best decision.

1 comment:

Tammi Kibler said...

Hi Kimberly,

Thanks for sharing this. I find it very helpful to hear that not every request requires compliance.

Likely the first writer had already turned down the job.



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