Monday, May 3, 2010

Are you attracting the clients from hell?

Legendary stock investor Benjamin Graham (a hero of Warren Buffett), once said something to the effect that, in the short run, stocks are a voting machine; in the long run, they are a weighing machine. In other words, the true underlying value will eventually emerge.

This connection to client-freelancers relationships was made in my brain by a recent post on Freelance Folder, "Clients Are Not Demons From Hell."  I appreciated the fact that the author attributed a challenging client's ill behavior to lack of understanding rather than malice. Hey, we all love sharing a client horror story or too (and I posted a Dr. Freelance anecdote in the comments that I won't take the space to repeat here), and there is plenty to learn from songs sung blue.

And I'm not saying that there aren't bad clients out there.

What I *am* saying, however, is that if you find yourself with a glut of clients who take you to the brink of insanity, you need to take a long, hard look at what you're doing:
  • Are you attracting clients who aren't a good philosophical, emotional, or technical fit?
  • Are you establishing a positive, professional rapport from the outset, with clear expectations on both sides?
  • Are you completing the assignments with every ounce of your skill and attention...or are you withholding that last little bit because you don't want to waste it or risk it?
Some day, when you look back at the sum total of your career, you'll get a pretty good view of what the market's "weighing machine" had to say about your skills, abilities and approach. You can take responsibility for that whenever you like.


  1. Bottom line: Even if you don't attract them, you can CREATE them if you're not careful.

  2. It's like (sort of) a marriage/personal relationship. I kept choosing partners who were BAD for me. Looking back, they all shared similarities. I finally ended up with someone who is my opposite and it's wonderful. I have ended relationships with clients who were a bad fit-if it's not working, then it's a waste of everyones time, energy and money. And you are so right about establishing clear expectations from the onset. They gotta...and you their share to succeed.

  3. Oh, I'd say it's definitely, not "sort of"!

    What you've said is interesting with regard to finding someone who's your opposite...My "opposite relationships" were always disastrous! At the risk of dragging my lovely spouse of 16 years through the mud, she and I like and laugh at most of the same stupid things (and people), within a few degrees of difference.

    Whatever works, eh?

  4. Pretty good post. I just came by your blog and wanted to say that I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

  5. LayoutSeed--thanks for chiming in.