Tip of the Quill: A Journal
The wisdom of sThig, cont’d: handling bad clients.

In his post Top Ten Ways to handle Bad Clients, Scott Thigpen fields some really great insights, and some things I need to keep in mind right now, especially:

  • Ask for asshole money up front. Insanely wise. I have a gig right now where the clients kept me waiting for content for literally six months, and then of course need me to go at breakneck speed now that they’re ready. Argh.
  • Make them cough up numbers first. I get this all the time, and I even have one client right now who’s saying, “We have no money for this, so I need you to tell me what it’s worth”, which is loosely translated into “Tell me what we’d ordinarily pay you for this so I can come back with a proposal for a third of that paid in installments, each of which you’ll have to hound me for.” Argh.
  • Be a fair bill collector. This is perhaps the most critical for me right now, because it’s what’s keeping me in the windy city this weekend. I’d been planning to go to SXSW this week for the last two months, but the money I’d budgeted for it still hasn’t come in from four different clients, which means that I’ll be raising a Shiner to all my peeps in Austin from here in Chicago instead. This has me bummed out, but that’s the nature of the freelance business – it’s always feast or famine, and at the moment my workload is feast while the bank account is famine. C’est la vie. The worst of it is when you spend months working on gigs that run long, during which you’re living off the credit card/savings account, and then they don’t pay for a month or two after they’re finally completed. Argh!

Of course, I realize that a large chunk of this is me still learning the ropes of small business ownership and trying to find the middle ground between hardnosed businessman and, well, me. I tell you one thing, though – the last couple of years have been staggeringly useful, which I’ve been constantly referring to as an MBA in Real World Economics. I enjoy working with 99% of my clients, I’ve only ever had to really fire one, and I’m sure that eventually all of this will sort itself out – but I’m definitely keeping my eye out for posts like these, chock-full of the wisdom of my peers…