Casting off a burden

Hindsight is always twenty-twenty, or so they say.

But even a crystal ball wouldn’t have kept me from shooting myself in the foot last week.

You see, I’ve had a certain client for five or six years. I not only designed his Website but also have maintained it with additions, updates, etc.

I thought we had a good working relationship.

But back in the Spring, a new fellow came on board. And started talking about “making some changes.”

Since the client is located far away from me, I figured he’d want to hire somebody local. Somebody who could be at his beck and call whenever he needed them.

I redoubled my efforts to keep him happy, doing updates the minute I got them, writing off time to keep my fees low.

Mistake No. 1. People never appreciate largesse.

And too often, the giver ends up feeling resentment.

Anyway, while I was out of town over the weekend helping Domer, this client emailed me something, noting it had to be published to the Website by a certain time on Saturday. But I’d left my laptop at home and didn’t get his message until Tuesday.

I shot him an apology email, to which he curtly responded that it was “okay this time,” but I shouldn’t let it happen again.

Huh?

The Fighting Irish and the Short-fused Italian in me exploded!

No way do I envision being chained to my computer 24/7/365. Yet that’s what it would mean, if I had to be on call for this one client.

Not to mention, how can I justify shoving my other clients aside, in favor of one who claims his work should take precedence?

So I fired him.

Mistake No. 2? You decide.

I wrote a scathing email, rewrote it (toning it down) two times, then, with a quick prayer, hit the Send button.

And worried.

Had I been too hasty? He was a paying client, after all, even if he was a slow payer.

Should I have tried to hammer out our differences over the phone? Right, and risk screaming like a Banshee at him!

What if I’d just reminded him I’m not his full time flunky? That I, too, have a life outside work? I doubt he’d have cared.

But I at least should have acknowledged my part in this and not let the resentment build to the boiling point.

Oh, well, what’s done is done. Part of me regrets my decision; the other part is jubilant over the freed-up time and emotion I’m left with.

I read something in this morning’s paper that resonated with me. “Sometimes you have to take a few things off your plate to make room for new opportunities that may arise.”

Lucille Ball said it another way. “I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done.”

So, without this albatross hanging from my neck, maybe I can finally find time to finish my novel!

What do you think?

Give a little to get a little

Well, it was bound to happen.

I almost had to fire my first client yesterday — not my first client, but the first time I came close to severing ties with any client.

We started off fine. He wanted a Website redesign and “X” was the amount he was willing to spend. I assured him I would do it, even though it was less money than I’d normally charge. Half a loaf is better than nothing, right?

Not always.

Then the project grew. He wanted:

  • photos — lots of ’em
  • contact information on every page
  • and new copy — keyword-rich copy that would propel him to the top in the search engine listings.

Now I never promise results in Website design. There are just too many variables with page rankings, and the darn search engines keep changing their parameters.

But I got busy and designed a killer home page. He loved it. Problem was, his cash flow had dried up, and he was going to have to scale way back.

Uh-oh.

Having already invested hours on this project, I wasn’t a happy camper.

When he suggested I “hook up the new home page with the old other pages” and we’d be done, I hit the roof.

I explained that aesthetically, a Band-aid approach wouldn’t fly.

He wasn’t listening.

So I slapped together the remaining pages, not wanting to expend any more time or effort on something that wasn’t paying squat.

Late that night, I got an angry message from him.

The next time we talked, we “duked it out.” I again explained what he needed and told him I couldn’t do it under such a meager budget. I volunteered to return his deposit, remove the pages I’d published for him, and turn him loose to find another designer.

Whoa, he said.

After much haggling back and forth, we finally agreed to finish the job we started.

I’d get more pay, he’d quit micro-managing, and I’d do him an awesome job.

Now that‘s what I call win-win!