Do You Treat Your CLIENTS As Your BEST FRIENDS?
Have you ever gotten a message like this:
Thank you (my) friend!
What's this supposed to mean in the freelance world? Is it just a polite phrase a client uses every now and then or something more?
Before I decided to join goLance, when some of my clients referred to me as a friend, it usually meant that I delivered something much earlier than expected, I introduced a shocking discount, I accepted to work on a handful of revision or something more or less similar, which benefited my clients a lot.
There Are Fine Professional Lines: Both Visible and Invisible Ones
This is how it works in freelancing. You work. You get paid. You move on. You enjoy more or less working with some of the clients. You end up with good or bad memories. Yet, I'm telling you, more than once, for some of the guys I worked with, I thought: in some other universe, under some other circumstances, we would be good friends. I mean it.
I have two interesting real-freelance-life stories to share.
The First Story
I had a client who didn't mind paying me a visit in person. We can agree that this is something you don't experience quite often as a freelancer. He used to catch a flight and spend a day or two with me once or twice in a year. We worked for a couple of years. I was writing blog posts for three of his business websites. As you can guess, I used to write a lot for this client on a daily basis.
One day, out of the blue, he asked me to name my price for the exclusive work. Plain and simple, he wanted me to work only for him. Honestly, I was afraid to put all of my eggs in one freelance basket. So, I declined as politely as possible. Unfortunately, the things have never been the same between us. Not long after that, we ended up our professional relationship. He didn't even want us to stay friends anymore.
The Second Story
This client didn't fly over to see me, although I'm pretty much sure he could afford a private jet. He never negotiated a price. It was up to me to set my price and he would gladly accept it. Of course, I had to deliver exactly what I promised. He was an open book in the best possible way you can imagine. Quite often, we used to talk more about our private lives than the work itself. What happened here?
I didn't hear from him for some time. I checked his profile and realized that he was working with some other freelancer. I felt bad. I also felt hurt. I thought that I was his only freelancer for these kinds of projects. He reassured me that we will have more work together. For some reason, I couldn't explain to myself even now, I didn't want to accept it. I even used that ridiculous phrase, I thought we were friends. Maybe I should've worked for less. Maybe it was just the good bad vanity, but I refused to work on any new projects with this client. I haven't heard from him ever since.
Have You Ever Crossed The Line?
You can't be a heartless freelance machine all the time, can you? You can't be all friendly either. You have work to do. You aren't freelancing to make friends, but to get paid for proper work.
A thousand clients and projects later, I'm still searching for the answer. How about you? Have you ever treated your client as your best friend? Can there be a friendship between a client and a freelancer?