Interview: Dealing With Client Conflict (via The Freelance Podcast)

Note: This interview is from early April.

RJ from The Freelance Podcast was invited me on the show again, this time to talk a problem many of us freelancers share – conflict with clients! We talk about how freelancers get themselves into conflict with clients, how some clients are trouble on their own, and some strategies for coping with each. We also cover some of the material from my Conquering Client Conflict course for freelancers.

As always, RJ is a great host doing a great podcast, and I’m flattered to have had a chance to be involved. Head on over and check out the interview!

Dear Client: Stop Asking For A Ballpark Estimate

I like you, client, you’re what makes it possible to do what I love for a living. But I also respect you; you either own a business or occupy a high-enough managerial position within a business to have the authority to hire my team and I, which means you’re all grown up and are way past the point of needing to be handled with kid gloves. So, allow me to indulge in some tough love:

Please, for the sake of your business, stop asking me to give you a ballpark estimate.

It happens to consultants just like me, every day – at some point during a (usually light-on-details) conversation with a very excited client like you, about a new website or custom software that you’ve dreamed up to help you run your business, you’ll ask The Question.

“So, what’s a ballpark estimate of what that would cost?”

I understand why this seems like a perfectly reasonable question, I really do. You have a business to run, and getting a broad sense of what something costs is probably a handy proxy for quickly deciding if it’s something you can handle, or not. I get that – business life often boils down to making decisions quickly, based on broad or even vague information.  Remember, I run a small business, too, so I share a lot of the same concerns you do. Keep Reading…

Do You Need to Be a Really Good Programmer to Make a Living Freelancing?

It’s a valid question – how good do your programming skills need to be (and how much does that matter) in the world of freelancing?

The Question:

Do you need to be a really good programmer to make a living freelancing?
How advanced does a programmer need to be in order to make a living as a freelancer taking jobs from freelancing sites like Odesk or Elance? What kind of technical skills need to accomplish beforehand?

The Answer:

When it comes to raw coding ability, everyone will argue as to what “really good” means, so I’ll say this: you should be at least at the “Consciously Incompetence” stage on the Four Stages Of Programming Competence scale. It is here that you have some fundamentals down, but your eyes and your mind are open to what you don’t know. In this stage, you are actively working toward improvement and understand the necessary elements of doing so. This, I think, is the absolute minimum price of entry into programming for money. Keep Reading…

How To Launch A Product, Lose A Contest, And End Up A Winner Anyway

It was only Day 2 of the Gumroad Small Product Lab when I decided not to bother participating.

No, it was late on Day 2, even!  After signing up on Day 1, I hadn’t really decided to launch a product; signing up was driven more by curiosity than anything else. My hope was that  Gumroad would be offering some secret marketing info that I could use to promote my podcast. I had no idea how close that hope would be to what actually transpired.

Chatting with friends on Day 2, I deliberated over whether or not to do this, and what kind of a product I could do. In typical form, I had a hard time thinking truly small – a hallmark of my career is my tendency to over-engineer everything I do. Usually, this works in my favor; on a 10-day time-span, over-engineering would yield the same result as not starting at all; a no-finish. Keep Reading…

Burning Consulting Questions: How To Get Clients?

I talk to a good number of freelancers/consultants, and I hear this same burning consulting question from a lot of people, both new and established:

I understand you run a successful consulting business and was wondering if you have any “tips” regarding how to get clients?

OK, here comes a “Constulants hate him” moment: I haven’t had to work all that hard to keep my business busy. I’ve been reasonably fortunate in two ways regarding client acquisition:

  1. 80% of my firms’ work comes from word-of-mouth referrals, and
  2. The other 20% comes from people just phoning in after finding my company on Google.

The majority of my business revenue comes from selling new projects to existing clients, far more so than by selling new projects to new clients.  My experience has been that the best answer to “how to get clients” is “sell to the clients you already have”.

That said, at the moment I do find myself looking to fan the flames of marketing a bit. I recently devised a new strategy for marketing my business locally, and I’m not 100% certain it’s going to work. Keep Reading…