Today’s guest post comes to us from Susan Johnston, the Urban Muse Writer. Enjoy!
Anyone who has ever sat through drinks or coffee in their search for love knows that first dates can be both exhilarating and nerve-wracking.
Freelancing can be much the same. Courting clients isn’t that different from courting a potential mate. You’re nervous as hell, but you still want to make a good impression and hopefully seal the deal.
Whether you’re on a first date or courting your first client, here are five dating rules that you can apply.
Rule #1: Don’t give the milk away for free.
On your first date, don’t make it look like you’re going to give everything up for this potential soul mate of yours. That’s a good rule of thumb for freelancers to keep in mind, too.
If you give clients a freebie or cut them a ridiculously good deal (even if you’re trying to build your portfolio or help a friend), then you’re sending the message that you and your skills come cheap. Once they’ve figured that out, they’ll expect it all the time. It’s tough to get someone to cough up market rates when they’re used to paying pennies or always getting more than they should.
Instead of devaluing your work and that of other freelancers, have some respect and charge what you’re worth!
Rule #2: It takes two to tango.
We’ve all been in relationships where we felt we were giving 110% and the other person was giving nothing. It stinks, right?
Remember this when you’re chasing down a client who can’t commit or when you’re trying to please someone who seems like they just can’t be pleased no matter what you do. It’s smart business to follow up a few times and always carry out your end of the bargain, but at some point we have to accept that “they’re just not that into us” and move on to clients who can appreciate us and value our work.
Sometime it’s not us, it’s them.
Rule #3: You’re most desirable when you’re taken.
Success begets success, whether you’re a newly engaged guy suddenly surrounded by eligible women or a freelancer who just landed a big project and has several more clients banging down his door.
When we’re in a period of stability and success, we tend to attract more of it – sometimes more than we know what to do with. If you’re newly engaged, I hope you’ll share the wealth with your single friends. And if you’re the freelancer with more work than you can handle, consider outsourcing or referring those clients to others you trust.
Of course, the nice thing about freelancing is that you can juggle multiple clients without feeling guilty for cheating.
Rule #4: Don’t settle for Mr. Wrong.
Just as some people tolerate an abusive boyfriend or a gold-digging girlfriend so they can stay in a relationship – any relationship – freelancers often face a similar temptation to work for demanding or low-paying clients because they need the money or are afraid they won’t get better clients.
Don’t fall into this trap! These clients will only sap your creativity and eat up time that could be spent finding Mr. Right. Have some standards and hold out for projects that fit them. Believe me, they are out there.
Rule #5: Remember, there are plenty of fish in the sea.
It’s easy to lose perspective when you’ve just been dumped or you’re stuck in a dead-end relationship that destroys your confidence. But remember that break-ups can free up your time to find something better. There are always other potential mates or clients when you’re ready for them, and they’re out there waiting for you.
Of course, there’s at least one area where freelancing and dating diverge, and that’s finding The One.
In order to flourish as a freelancer, you need diversity. It’s dangerous to get too infatuated with one important client, one big project, or one long-term contract. Clients go bankrupt, strategies change, projects simply dry up. Or you might outgrow them and decide to move on. It’s all part of the process.
Freelancing is a business, after all. If you want to be with monogamous with your clients, then you should go back to being someone’s employee.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with these rules? Which others would you add?