Some of My Client Issues

In my Freelance Developers Manual, I have a chapter on People Skills (“What It Takes”).
This is a trait that needs to be developed.
No one is born with it, it is only through the experience of meeting people and handling each unique situation.

As I mentioned in this manual, many young developers who are making the move to start a freelance career
(full time or part time), are usually focusing on enhancing their developer skills.

What they overlook is that Soft Skill of building lasting relationships with your clients.
A satisfied client will refer you to others who need a website.
They could care less about what technologies you know.
They just want a website that meets their needs, getting their money’s worth, and just works.

So being a freelancer is more than just building a website.
It’s building relationships to expand your reach in your area or locale.
How you handle your customers is key to your growth.

Below is a list of client issues that I had documented in my developer logs.

Actual Client Problems

Can you make it a lighter blue
I had a WordPress brochure website ready to launch.
As always, I have the business owner check out the website before I release it.

One of his requests, “I love blue, make it a blue theme.”
He never mentioned what shade of blue, so I just went with the theme’s default blue background.
After checking the pre-launch site, he had texted me.
“Looks great, but can you make it a little lighter blue?”

Here is where I made a mistake.
I should have asked him to send me a sample of the shade of blue, or a website link with the color
he loved. I did not think this would have revolved into a merry go around that lasted almost
four days.

So I lighten the shade and texted him “How about this?”
Now being a busy store owner, it took a while before he responded, “To light, make it a bit darker.”

Red Flag
I could already see where this was going, nowhere.
We could spend an eternity trying to resolve this issue using the how about this, let’s try this, I think this is it, etc.
So I emailed a link to a light blue color chart displaying several shades of light blue, from light to darker.
I told him to give me the hex code of what he color was his choice.

Finally
I reset his theme to the light blue that he had chosen.
To my surprise, he emailed me back and said that that light blue by itself looked good.
But when incorporated into the website, it looked too pale.
He said, “I think your original color was the best.”

After all this, we ended where we started.

I Expect the Website to be on the first page within one week
Now in this example, I am using a potential client as an example.
The major issue was revealed after the client shared what kind of website he wanted.

An eCommerce site selling homemade wedding dresses.
There were several issues that came up during the initial appointment.
Now the client did explain that he is not a technical person, and knows absolutely nothing
about websites. He wanted a “web technician” to take of everything that was required to sell his creation.

After explaining what the business owner was required to provide content:
High resolution images
Product details
Create a Stripe, Square and Paypal acccount
About Info
And so forth.

I told him to look at other wedding dress websites to see what was required.
Now it seemed he was getting overwhelmed, so told him I could help where I could.

His response, “I expect the website to be on the first page of a Google search the first week.”
Was this a knee jerk response from being upset or frustrated?

I explained that a new domain needs to be crawled by Google and may take about 2 or 3 weeks.
And he will be in competition with other older websites that have been in business for years.
So to jump over them in a week or two is an extreme task, to say the least.

Finally
I never heard from him again.
In checking for the domain that he requested, I have never seen any website built.
I still send my yearly Christmas greetings, as they say, never burn bridges.

Client never provided content
After setting the layout for an informational (brochure) website pertaining to an appliance installation and repair company,
all that was left was content to fill in the blocks.

To be more specific, images and information (about, services, what they do, etc.).
I reminded the business to forward me what they have.
They can send me the info in bits and pieces.

Well, two weeks went by, and nothing.

I offered to bring my camera and shoot videos and stills of their business.
No response.

Finally
I just wanted to close out this project so called them.
I knew that I would have to create the content for them.
So I asked specific questions:
When did the business start?
Who are the owners?
How many people do you employ?
What do you do?
I ended up getting a ton of bits and pieces, enough to actually write an about page and services page.

For images, I got the approval to use generic stock images.

This is not exactly how I would fabricate a website, but I had no choice.
They approved the website with the content I wrote incorporating the generic images.
Needless to say, some people have different standards than what I think is required.
I would not use this website in my portfolio.

Never Got Paid
This is a COVID19 related issue.

Got a referral from a former client that a new small business required a website.
All they wanted was a simple website to let the world know that they exist.
So I put together a one-page site that was simple, contained all the pertinent information and
was easy to navigate with a contact form.

All this occurred just before the pandemic hit the US.
A shutdown was ordered in the area I live, whereby only essential businesses were allowed to
remain open. This small repair shop had no choice but to shut down only 2 months after opening
their doors.

Just so happened, I had emailed the invoice to this business that very week they shutdown.
I was never contacted about their status, so I did not know that they closed for about 2 months.
After the past due date came and went, I had suspected that they were shut down.

Finally
So contacted them after a while, and they explained their situation.
They had already lost money during this period and just wanted some time to recover.
So from one small business to another small business, I deferred payment till a late date in 2020.

I just resubmitted my invoice, so let’s see what transpires.

I wonder, what would you have done considering the world situation?

Conclusion
I just wanted to share a few client issues with you.
In a way to vent, sometimes things like this make you want to go back to a regular 9 to 5 job.
I also wanted to share inspiring freelancers to expect client issues as your business grows.

How would you handle similar issues?

Sometimes you may need to bounce your thoughts off a mentor or fellow developer.
They may have another insight into your situation.

At the end of the day, just do what you love doing.
All these obstacles are just that, bumps in the road.
You will end up becoming a well rounded developer confident in handling all customer issues.


Gerald Watanabe
Islandwebtek

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