Years ago when I was an editorial assistant I worked for a very high maintenance publisher. She expected me to come in at the crack of dawn and work until all hours of the night. She called me Sunday mornings at 8 and Wednesday nights at 3:00 AM. When I told her she was crossing a line she told me I was welcome to clean out my desk. So I did. I left publishing for the incredibly boring world of accounting, and though I missed the fun of working in an editorial office, I knew I could go home and not have to wonder if I should pretend I’m not home every time the phone rings.
It’s happening again. I have a client who likes to call me at 6:00 PM when my family is eating, at 7:30 PM when I’m putting my son to bed and other times she feels appropriate because she knows I’ll be home. I have caller ID and will not answer the phones at this time. I’m not being petty, but it’s my experience if you don’t tell clients the office closes at a certain point they’ll be calling you at midnight.
No one wants to lose a client but if a client isn’t respectful of my family time, I don’t want to work for her anymore. Freelance doesn’t mean open all night. It’s important to establish boundaries.
- Tell clients the best time to call. Strongly suggest they call during these times only.
- If they’re in a different time zone, or calling at your convenience isn’t working for them, set up a mutually agreed upon time to talk.
- If they’re calling too much or at inappropriate times, let them know it’s not going to fly – but be nice.
- Suggest they email requests and changes and only call when it’s really important.
Pain in the Butt Clients
I don’t have many pain in the butt clients at all. Most leave me alone and I never hear from them until the job is done or it’s time to pay me. With the networks I do have regular communication with my editors but that’s usually through the network forum or chats. My pain in the butt client emails constantly for very silly reasons. For instance, she doesn’t know a thing about blogging so she feels her bloggers don’t either. The thing is she hired a bunch of experienced bloggers because she doesn’t have clue. Every week brings step by step instructions on how to use Stumble Upon or how to write a blog post. Plus she’s always changing the dates of my posts around so Monday’s post appears on Wednesday and Friday’s post appears Tuesday. There’s no reason for this, except maybe boredom. She loves to change my headlines and subheads too. I could live with all this. It annoys me, but I can live with it. Once she started calling all the time at dinner time I started getting a little angry.
Nip it in the Bud
If you’re letting your clients take over your life you must stop it immediately! Today it’s a phone call at dinner time, tomorrow it’s like you’re working for
Anna Wintour Amanda Priestly. If you offer a pain in the butt client a line, she will indeed cross it. Once that happens things can only get worse.