When we first start out and are new in business, we want to just help the world.  I remember thinking everyone in my industry charged way too much.  I was going to set myself apart by being “different” and really help people.  How was I going to do that?  By charging less of course.  I was going to HELP people by charging them LESS for services that they really NEEDED.  And off I went.  I set up my website, I set my prices and yes, I found clients.  Here is what else I figured out along the way:

You teach people how to treat you.  Discounting your services or doing extra for free does not help you, or the person who hires you.

Here is why.  You agree to “help” but what they hear is “free”.  Even at a discounted price, you are going to end up doing way more than you initially committed to.  The client will appreciate it, but it won’t stop with the initial scope of the project.  Unless you were very specific, you are going to end up doing more than you wanted to, or bargained for.  The client/vendor boundary has been broken and now they either no longer see your true value, or they do BUT now what they need trumps the fact that you are working for free and now they need more and more.  It was too easy to get what they wanted, so the mindset of “well this little change won’t matter, or this is an easy update” has set in.  And it is all downhill from there.

They will tell you they are sorry, or they will offer to promote you and somehow never will.  Some will see absolutely nothing wrong with this.  Others will know that they are not being fair to your or your business, but due to financial constraints are almost helpless to fix the situation.  The only one who can fix this situation is you.

Teach your clients how to treat you.  If you are here, don’t feel helpless or even angry.  Here are some ideas for how to deal with this situation as professionally as possible, so you don’t lose a client or friend:

FIRST:  Set clear boundaries from the start. When you take on the project, be clear about what they can expect.   If you are only going to do their website, don’t do their newsletter too.  If they need help with social media, don’t add that in, just because they need or ask for it.  If you do not work weekends, don’t respond to email or requests of any kind on the weekend.  If you don’t have time to help, say so. And don’t offer a reason.  It is important they hear “no” and not “no, because”, otherwise there seems to be room for negotiation on this point.

SECOND:  If you are in a barter situation – for the love of God, put it in writing.  Sometimes people really just do need help and they simply can’t afford your services.  This doesn’t mean their business won’t take off and you won’t reap those rewards later on down the road.  Clearly stating what you will do for them and what they will do for you, will help you to send requests for work or services from them, making you feel much more empowered.

THIRD:  If you want them to promote your product or service in return for work you perform, that’s totally fine.  Especially if they have the ear of your core audience, or a large social media network.  It’s kinda like affiliate marketing, without all the red tape.  They refer someone to you for X package – they receive X in services as compensation.  Easy right?  Nope. You can’t expect them to completely “get” your brand, so provide them with tools and resources that make it really easy to promote what you are offering.  This can be as easy as creating a guest post for their blog, or creating some custom graphics for them to share on social media.  Remove whatever barriers they could potentially have to prevent them from completing what they promised to do.

At the end of the day, keep things in their proper perspective and move forward.  Express how you feel without lashing out and keep it professional.  In the end, you may not have them as a client, but you will have conducted yourself with professionalism and integrity – and isn’t that what really matters most?

Ever been in this position with a client?  I would love to hear how you resolved it.  And don’t forget to MAKE TODAY AMAZING!