Longevity isn’t long for freelancers who work fast and know what they are doing.
Conversely if clients are likely to remove you once they are doing well, what value does pay for performance bring?
This is the first entry of a series on being a freelancer.
It seems like, and I agree it makes little sense, but when your work, over several months has lead to the best possible outcome for the client and you’ve begun meeting and exceeding their goals, be ready for it to end. Now in SEO the projects are never ending, there are always more things that can be done. But as your work bears fruit you may want to look out and start interviewing new clients.
Examples I’ve experienced: In 2019 after working together for several months in increasingly important roles a client who was contracting 100% of my time. (Note…rule #1 never give 100% of your time. You can be gone in an instant and you’ll have no income till you replace this client, and you’re unlikely to find another one asking for all your time, leaving you in a state of crisis seeking multiple clients.).
The client had evolving monthly goals that often spanned off-project. This sea of half finished gigs had to be completed or the projects would fail and while he had said to “pause” this project … I’d have to keep it going anyhow. Keep in mind if an unfinished project imploded I worried I’d be the one holding the grenade. This fever of activity was good though, but just as my work delivered a 1200% increase in search traffic to his site.
I received a call one afternoon as I drove down the expressway after visiting the doctors office. My client, called literaly yelling at me saying he didn’t know why he needed me and I was out like that. I think it had somewhat to do with me not being at my desk maybe or the fact I had missed an email to my personal account from his dad either way, the situation was obviously a problem. Especially since at that time he had been paying me to hire a couple assistants to work arttime with me.
My contract was suspended, blocking me from billing any hours before I got home. I even had some time I had worked that wasn’t billed yet but that was blocked. The same client had just given me a bonus and a new project just a month before, but now the value I brought was questioned. That project was to turn around their brand’s domain traffic on Google.
I was put on the project in late Apr and let go in late May. At that time 1 month traffic was up 1200% and it had never been better, and it hasn’t been as good since.
The best I can tell you is that when your clients reaches all a big boom in sales and traffic you wont be earning a pat on the back, unless its a pat to the door. Now you still need to make these awesome wins, just don’t mistake the scene as time to celebrate with them. You aren’t them and they may even claim it was their own efforts.
I think its important and this is especially true in SEO, since you don’t produce a physical object that they can see and touch its especially important to produce reports and explain your value. Now that hasn’t actually mattered, in this next example the reports were often discounted as just wrong.
See be weary of the client whos “an expert” in your field. They are dangerous…they lack the knowledge that they aren’t an expert. If they were so great why wouldn’t they just be an SEO Consultant? Why hire you? How could results be better after you joined the team?
Client SEO Experts are generally the enemy of their own goals and sites. With unfounded confidence they can work to undo what you’ve orchestrated in a matter of minutes. They constantly second guess you, and you may find yourself screaming.
I know I was when I shared that the site had record traffic, to be met with the sky was falling and monthly graphs emailed out proclaiming all you’d done wasn’t effective. In that case I had to point out that the month graphs included the current month we were a week into….and for that reason, yes, there was a drop in traffic due to the lack of the month being complete.
Taken For Granted When Things Go Well
I started with a site that migrated to a new site in August. I had 301 redirected their backlinks and ensured proper page load times but early on I had to question the new sites user experience. What they sold wasn’t even on the homepage. The were so obsessed with showing the location of all their stores they neglected to realize the average web visitor doesn’t care how many stores you have, or where all those stores are they care where the closest store to them is and thats it. Showing them 8 or so other irrelevant locations intermixed with the 1 you want is a disservice.
And I don’t mean it was listed with other stores I mean a sea of images, phone icons with numbers and Google maps for each store. It was too much and the user data showed it. But over the course of the next 3 or 4 months I convinced them to allow me to make a blog for their site.
They said they already had one and it was at xyz.com. I noted that their main site was abc.com so xyz.com wasn’t doing them any favors with keywords or establishing content to draw in visitors. After only two months their keywords had more than doubled and their traffic was the highest it had ever been in November, then even higher again in December.
By mid January I had all my access cut to and was tiold we did work on a project basis and the project was over. Luckily this time I had kept the client at about 1/4 of my business. Sadly though when mentioning the performance they said it might have been their own efforts. Deja Vu! Traffic was never better, keywords were expanding like wild fire and I’d seen the site past a poorly executed multi-domain strategy and PPC strategy which both cannebalized organic SEO and now it wasn’t even my victory.
Moral of the story, you are NOT an employee. They are NOT your friend and you’re gone when the problem is deemed fixed so at your high moments, start shopping for a replacement.
- Never let one client dominate your schedule, once they leave they leave you empty.
- Watch out for client experts in your field. They’ll be the downfall of everything.
- When things look great, start interviewing clients.