If you’re anything like I used to be, you don’t establish boundaries with potential clients. You take a million phone calls, answer emails at all hours of the night, and let them tell you how things will go down.
All of that is about to change.
No more will you waste hours on the phone with all of the wrong people. It’s time for you to establish boundaries with potential clients. The outcome, by the way, is very rewarding.
1) Schedule Calls
I had a woman who wanted a book written email me one day and ask if I could give her a call later. I had nothing going on, so I was able to call her and spend some time on the phone with her.
Not only did she go on and on about her troubles, we never got to what it looks like to work with me as a ghostwriter.
For the record, this is clearly my fault.
She said she wanted to talk to me again, but had to wait until after a meeting the following week. Sure enough, she reached out. For starters, she called me after hours. I was with family, so I didn’t take the call. She didn’t leave a message.
Later that night, she sent me an email that simply said, “When you have a moment, can you please give me a call?”
Instead of doing what I did before, I emailed her back and said,
“Great to hear from you!
Before we set up a call, I wanted to make sure you were open to what it looks like to work with me. We didn’t get an opportunity to cover that when we chatted last week.
For a book of your caliber, I charge…..”
I laid out the deal-e-o.
Now some of you may disagree with this and that’s fine, but after the first call with her, I realized she was someone who wanted to talk more than she wanted to do business. In order to prevent that from happening again, I had to take control. So I chose to let her know what it looked like to work with me. If she was open to it, she would set up a time with me. If she wasn’t open to it, she would move on. And frankly, that was fine.
I should tell you that she moved on.
2) Stop Answering Every Question
I love that people have enough faith in me to reach out and ask questions. Both on Facebook and via email, I get people from all over the world asking me how I did this…or that…or this and that. It’s so great that people have faith in me and want to learn from me.
However, I can’t answer such loaded questions in a Facebook message.
Also, those questions are the same ones that paying clients get answers to.
I used to take the time to write out a lengthy email, giving them direction. How kind of me, right? But I started to notice the more I did this, the more people took advantage of it.
Now when someone reaches out asking me how I did this or that or the other thing, I always reply back with, “I would be happy to chat with you! What you’re looking for are questions I answer in my discovery sessions. A session is $225 and lasts an hour. What time of day works best for you? We can set up a call and go from there.”
Those who value my time will sign up. Those who don’t, disappear into the ether.
I had a woman friend me on Facebook once, only to dive right into messenger and ask, “How did you get your book published? Was it hard? Did it cost a lot of money?”
No introduction, no hello, no, “Do you mind if I ask you a question?” She just dove right in. I sent her the reply above and never heard from her again.
3) Respect Your Time
There are plenty of times I answer questions for people. But I can’t do it every second of the day. And when it comes to someone wanting to know how he or she can make more money as a creative, there simply isn’t a short answer.
If there were, I wouldn’t have a blog or discovery calls. I wouldn’t have speaking engagements. I also wouldn’t have spent the last eight years of my life building my own entrepreneurial venture figuring it all out.
I love helping people, but there comes a point where you have to create boundaries and respect your time. Either they pay you for your time, or they sail off into the sunset to figure it out themselves. Both options, no matter which one they take, will benefit them in the long run.
4) Call the Shots
Have you ever had a client that tried to tell you how you were going to do your job?
I have. And for the record, if this happens, run.
When I write a book, there is definitely a process to it. It is tried and true and has made many an author happy. So when someone tries to tell me, “I know someone who can do it in 4 weeks,” I say, “Then, by all means, work with them.”
They don’t. They’re just trying to push the envelope and shape the process to meet their expectations.
That’s when I say, “Sure, I can write a 30,000-word book for you in four weeks, but it will cost you more. If you’re open to that, we can talk about what that looks like when tied into my process.”
Don’t let someone try and dictate how your process unfolds. Be clear from the start what it looks like, and make sure it’s in a written contract. That way, there is no dispute later. If they keep pushing, they aren’t the right client for you. They will cause you more pain than anything else.
5) Always Have a Contract
Speaking of contracts….
If you take on a project (of any size) without a written contract, you are giving your client permission to overstep his or her boundaries.
If you agree to write six blog posts a month between 1,000 – 1,200 words, for $220 each, PUT IT IN WRITING.
Inevitably, they’ll reach out at some point and say, “Can you make this post 1,500 words?”
If you say yes and don’t charge accordingly (because you want to be nice and don’t want to cause a problem and blah, blah, blah), you are literally opening the door for creep scope. You are inviting your client to push boundaries. If you don’t nip it in the bud from jump, you’re only going to cause heartache down the road.
“But I feel bad.”
Really? Then you don’t belong in business. Sorry, but it’s true.
Charge the extra and stick to it. You deserve to be paid what you’re worth.
There is no question that establishing boundaries will cause you to “lose business.” But do you want to be in business with them in the first place? Frankly, I’m okay if a particular relationship doesn’t unfold. Trouble from the beginning in a sure sign that trouble will continue to unfold.
If someone doesn’t respect your time from the beginning, I promise you, they never will. Take control and establish boundaries. You can still be kind and warm when doing this. So don’t look at it like a bad thing to do. It isn’t. It’s the right thing to do.
The good news is, those who respect you and your boundaries will the greatest people to work with. And really, isn’t that what we’re after?
Joleene Moody is a ghostwriter, screenwriter, and actor based in Central New York.
Learn more at www.joleenemoody.com