Find your "Helen": Alison Knott and how to recognize your ideal client
The key to success in freelancing is realizing how to find the right clients - the people who are not only great to work with, but actually have money to pay you.
Alison Knott is a web consultant who mentors creatives, and she knows all the mistakes that freelancers make: targeting the wrong clients, the wrong platforms, the wrong rewards. In this episode, she shares the decisions you have to make right now to start making money!
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Client: Can you photoshop me to look skinnier?
— Every video client I've ever had.
I rent traffic control equipment for the largest company of our kind in the region, so many of our clients are local cities and counties.
A county client asked us to cover a large area with “no parking” signs so utility work could be done. I did that.
Upon arriving at the site, the client called to complain there was no place for him to park.
Client: Can I park on those railroad tracks over there? They’re free.
I should have said yes.
Client: I could do it myself in five minutes, so I don’t think we need to pay you.
That "five-minute job" was filming an all-day event.
I developed a mock-up for an ad placement. I used a stock photo of a desk with a computer on it.
Client: Can you turn the computer around?
Me: What, you mean in the photo?
Client: Yeah, how hard is it to understand we want to turn the photo around?
Me. The 2D PHOTOGRAPH?
He later asked for printed gifs and asked why they weren’t moving.
Client: I want my design to look simple and minimalistic (you can google that if you don’t know what it means).
Me: Okay, no problem. I can do minimalism, but could you expand a bit more specific about how you want it to look?
Client: So you don't know what it means then? And you still want to charge me $XX per hour? I think I’ll take my business somewhere else.
Client: We want to hire you to do one infographic per week ongoing long term. You choose the subject, do the research, write, design and illustrate them and you have to guarantee each one of them will go viral on the internet. We will pay $50 per graphic.
Me: If I had the magic ability to predict what would go viral I sure wouldn’t turn over my ideas and copyright to you for $50. Good luck finding someone who can do that and when you do be sure to give me their phone number.
I do some freelance illustration. A client got my name through a class I was teaching in the community.
Client: I’ve written a children’s book, and I’ve been trying for years to get someone to illustrate it. I’ve published two books before, so I’m not an amateur.
He goes on to tell me his daughter is a famous (what is it you are?–oh, right, illustrator) but she won’t illustrate the book for him, even though he’s offered her %$#@ big money. He wants to get together to show me the manuscript, or get my mailing address. I give him my email address.
Me: If you email me the story or more info about the project and what kind of illustrations you’re looking for, I’ll get back to you with my rates and schedule.
Client: So you won’t give me your address or meet with me so I can give you the manuscript?
Me: If it’s already typed up, it would be much easier to just send it by email.
Client: No, I can’t. I can’t do that.
Me: Well, email is really the best way to contact me. I work mostly digitally, so the illustrations will be delivered as digital files–
Client: I’m not a complete amateur! I’ve written a children’s book–what more do you need to know? I’m a rich old *&^%#$, and I’m willing to pay big money for someone to illustrate my book! I can tell you’re blowing me off!
Me: I’m totally willing to hear more about your book, but–
Client: You just missed a golden opportunity to make some money. You’re blowing me off, and I don’t appreciate it!
Me: I’m not blowing you off; I’m sorry if you feel that way–
Client: *hangs up*
Yup. I’ll regret missing that golden opportunity for sure.