Monday, December 15, 2008

13 Signs You Don't Want That Project

I just found this hilarious list on "20 Signs You Don't Want That Web Design Project" (and thanks to Inkthinker for finding this page!). I had to laugh at this list--and I was inspired to write my own. As with Zeldman's list, this one is based entirely on firsthand experience.

1. Client tells you he's a "bit of a writer himself." In fact, he'd write the coming project himself, but he just doesn't have the time. Take my word for it: this one will criticize your copy to death in his efforts to prove to you--or to himself--that he's a writer too.

2. The client asks you why you're charging so much money for a postcard mailer when it's "just a measly couple of lines." He tells you he could write it himself in ten minutes.

3. Client asks if you can't just copy and paste the home page text from a competitor's site to save money on writing costs.

4. The client can't tell you why his product is better than the competition's. He can't tell you who his competition is. When you ask who his audience is, he says "everyone."

5. There's no real budget for this project, but he'll have lots of really highly paid work in the future and he's looking for a long-term partner who's willing to "get in on the ground floor."

6. The client sells purple widgets for the multi-pronged flange industry. He's looking for a ten-page brochure for his latest product. He demands to know how many ten-page brochures selling purple widgets you've written targeted toward the multi-pronged flange industry.

7. The client tells you he loves what you written, it's perfect, he's absolutely satisfied. Then you send the invoice. Then he needs extensive revisions.

8. The client tells you he has a million-dollar promotional budget for his new business venture. Then when you send him a quote for the work, he tells you it's too high and he could get the work for a fraction of the price from writers in India.

10. The client asks you why you charge so much when he could get the same work done elsewhere for $5 a page.

11. You deliver a quote. The client asks for a reduction in price. You tell him you can meet $x budget if he's willing to sacrifice y and z. The client tells you he wants a reduction in price without reducing the amount of work.

12. The client loves your first draft. Then he comes back a few days later saying he spoke to his wife, his cousin in marketing, or his father-in-law who writes technical manuals and they all think what you've written doesn't have "that WOW factor."

13. You send in the first draft. The client says, "that's a good start. Now make it better." When asked what he thinks should be improved, the client is vague to completely nonresponsive.

What are your signs of a bad business partnership?


Unknown said...

The client says "Here's my new writer. She's going to write the pre-sale copy and we'll pay her from the proceeds!"

Run. Run like hell.

Jennifer Williamson said...

When they don't actually have an existing budget for you: BAD sign.

Unknown said...

And a current wanna-be client said exactly that. And I'm betting because he says he doesn't focus on money, he's not going to like that some of us - namely me - still do.

Anonymous said...

I always know when to turn a project down when someone says "It's a simple project for someone who knows what they are doing." or "It's really easy and should only take an hour or two." This in turn means that they are looking to have the work completed for practically nothing. This is a definite no in my books.

Jennifer Williamson said...

@Lori: He doesn't focus on money...sure, when he has to pay it. I bet he focuses on it pretty hard when he's earning it.

@Amanda: That one's been around forever. It's never smart to let the client tell you how much time a project should take; that's up to the freelancer.

Unknown said...

Jen, he actually said he didn't believe in money. Honey, I worship at the altar, blasphemer! LOL