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Keep It Moving

I’ve talked about working for free and when it’s cool and when it’s not cool. This post is about looking for warning signs when negotiating with clients.

Years ago, I was working with a client in at the early stages of their business. They made promises of future work in exchange for lesser pay. Perhaps I felt I was getting valuable experience, however when I did try to negotiate, the conversations never went well. The writing was on the wall, but I chose not to see it.

Sure, it was my fault for accepting the terms for as long as I did. Yea, I had an idea the client was a bit volatile. Even though, I knew I was not getting properly compensated, I wasn’t prepared to let the client go. Eventually, I grew tired of the arrangement and asked for proper terms. That’s when the client reacted as though they had been DOING ME A FAVOR by letting me work for them. Uncool. Rather than taking my request professionally, they made it personal and I had to fire them.

A negotiation is a business transaction. Business. Both parties come to terms they can agree on. Everything is negotiable and terms can change at any time. Good negotiating skills are important for building and sustaining a business. Negotiations are never and should never be personal. It’s important to be 100% upfront about terms, get that crap out of the way and then go about doing your job without having to worry about it. We’ve all learned the hard way by making mistakes and hopefully learning from them. I know I did!

So the bottom line is this. Make sure you have an fair exchange with your client, whether it be money or goods. Nobody should ever feel they owe anybody anything. Don’t make it personal and especially, don’t allow your client to make a negotiation personal. It’s hard to confront or even fire a client, but at the end of the day, there are some folks that will exploit you and your services and you’ve got to let them go.

What have I taken from this beside some growing pains? It feels great to move on. I’ve learned A LOT since then and never looked back. Freelancing is full of ups and downs. Nobody wants to burn bridges, but we just have to keep moving. Onward and upward. Shed the vampires. They will continue to drag you down and suck the lifeblood from you. No matter how attractive their promises may be, if they’re full of empty promises, they’re just in it for themselves and will not only never make good on them, they will leave you bleeding by the side of the road the first chance they get. Stay positive and keep it moving.

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