A couple of years ago I dipped my fingers in ghostblogging. My first client was a SaaS company. Or more like, an aaSS company. That dude was a douche. He paid peanut and asked for the moon.
Alas, I didn’t know better. I had good boundaries as a coach but wasn’t quite sure how to handle myself as a “freelance writer.” I got resentful. Writing ceased to be fun. And I doubted this whole “writing thing”… if I averaged out the time I spent on a piece vs. the fee, the rate was abysmal.
One day McDouche asked for a rush piece while still owed me payment for three articles in a totally entitled way. I screamed at the email, “You kidding me? Who the f___ do you think you are?” I wrangled payment for the three pieces and he was fired.
Fast forward 2 years and I’m happy to report that the project manager in me didn’t let me down. I put a stake in the ground about doing profitable and enjoyable work.
During the past year, I’ve doubled my rate and tripled project volume. I love 95% of my clients and have 0% client from hell.
Long story short — I stopped being “nice” and started showing a sh*t ton of spine the first moment I talk to a potential client.
It isn’t about sitting on my bum and “attracting” dream clients.
It’s about proactively and apologetically being clear on my approach so clients can self-select before engaging my services.
When we work together, they’re trained/nudged to roll my way with clear instruction. (Not insisting that it’s the best way, but I believe it’s the best way for me to deliver the best results for my clients.) Often I explain the reason for following a certain process to set up a co-creation relationship.
Here’s the long story and how you can turn prospects into dream clients:
“I want my dream client to share my POV”
Very well, then you have to be clear about your POV from the get go!
IMHO, working with clients who share your POV is super important so there won’t be an uphill battle trying to “sell” your work and prove your approach every step of the way.
From the get go, when you talk to potential clients, be forthright about your POV. Be opinionated. Be willing to be offensive. Don’t be nice, be clear.
In fact, your content is a great vehicle to share your values, convictions, and POV and help you prime the conversations.
Tell your potential client how you’d approach her challenges and gauge if it resonates. If it doesn’t, then it may be best for everyone if you let it go.
“I want my clients to respect my expertise and value my opinions”
Then behave like an expert! Have an opinion and stand by it!
If you don’t respect your expertise and opinion, then how can you expect others to respect you or have confidence in you?
Of course, you know your stuff. But do you have the words to articulate what you do and how you do it in a way that makes you stand taller?
On the flip side, earning respect also means acknowledging your own limits and not puffing up when something is not your area of expertise. No need to be apologetic — just state the fact: this is what I know about this topic, and I don’t consider it to be my area of expertise. I recommend seeking the help of ________.
Don’t hang onto a client or prospect if there’s no mutual trust and respect in the relationship. It’s soul sucking and won’t allow you to do good work.
“I want low maintenance clients with good boundary”
Other people’s boundary problem is not your problem unless you have a boundary problem. Keep your hands to yourself and you’ll be ok.
I get it, not everyone is a project management bitch like yours truly who can smell sh*tty boundary from miles away and have allergic reactions to scope creep. And it’s all good.
Start your work with any client with a clear scope and “rules of engagement.” Make sure you stick to your guns and don’t be afraid to call out issues early on. Don’t let anything fester.
Train your clients to adhere to YOUR rules, designed to help you deliver the best results for them. When everyone goes by the way you want to roll, you don’t have to go about handholding them all the time and yep, you get low maintenance clients!
“I don’t want my clients nickel-and-diming me. I want them to pay on time, at the fee I demand”
That’s easy… don’t discount. State your fee and shut the hell up. Take it or leave it, your clients’ money problem is not yours to sweat over.
The more hem-and-haw someone is about your fee, the more likely he’s going to be high maintenance and the less likely to pay on time.
Be ready to walk away instead of bending over backward to get this client. It’s not worth the stress and certainly not fair that this one crappy client would suck all your energy, leaving you nothing to serve your gold-star clients.
The problem with sh*t client is that the interaction takes up a lot of emotional energy and mental space. It impacts your ability to do good work — which is the foundation of hmm, everything.
TL;DR — what I’m saying is, you can be proactive about getting gold-star clients in the door, and/or train them to become your dream clients. All you need is some spine… and grow a pair.
Ling Wong :: Intuitive Brainiac | Creativity Mentor | Copywriting Alchemist. Author of Copywriting Alchemy: Secrets to Turning a Powerful Personal Brand Into Content that Sells.
Through her unique blend of marketing coaching, Content Experience Design and copywriting process, she helps the maverick-preneurs uncover, articulate & transform their WHY into content that connects, resonates and converts — by way of an intuitive yet rigorous iterative process born out of her Harvard Design School training and 15 years experience in the online marketing industry.
Ling is Inbound Marketing, Content Marketing, and Email Marketing certified. Through her writing engagements with various SaaS and marketing companies with the goals of driving organic traffic, building readership and increasing conversion, she’s well-versed in topics including online marketing, content marketing, eCommerce, conversion, UX, social media marketing, and more.
She helps coaches, consultants, service professionals, solopreneurs and small businesses apply these best practices to their specific business models and circumstances.
Ling is an avid cyclist with OCD (obsessive climbing disorder,) runner and chocoholic.
Join her upcoming Content Marketing in Plain English webinar series here.