The Reality Blog Week 3: Setting Boundaries with Clients

10 Responses

  1. As far as creating a PDF file, you can choose print in most word processors, and many other programs, and set the printer as a PDF file and out it comes.

    You mention getting a client as if you pulled one out of a hat. Where do you find these clients? I realize you have been doing this for a while, but I have not. Specific instructions I can follow would help so much. Thank you.

    1. Hi Stephanie!

      Thanks for the extra info on making PDFs. I think it's a little-used resource that most of us have access to, and for those that don't know, it's a great way to send things so they don't get reformatted by the word processing system of your recipient.

      You make a good point about client specifics. Nearly all of my clients have come from ads on How about this Friday I'll write about the specific ways I connected with those clients after seeing their ads? Because I completely understand – it's one thing to see an ad or know someone needs copy, but it's quite another thing to actually get your foot in the door.

      As for my client mentioned above, "Kelly," I was actually referred to her by a client I found through Now that I'm working with Kelly, she has begun referring her own clients to me which is how I've landed several sales page projects. Hope that helps – more to come at the end of the week!


  2. Great blog and something everyone needs to consider. I work as a VA (virtual Assistant) and when I first started out I didn't think that I needed to put constraints on my clients. I too didn't want to seem like I was demanding or inaccessible. Boy was that a mistake!
    I had a client call me at 10:30 on a Wednesday night for something mundane. I've had them call me on Saturday at 7a.m. or at dinner time or at 7:30pm wanting to know things or asking me to do something. What is amusing is that it has never been for an urgent request. Just regular stuff they could have emailed me about.
    Sending out a notice of my working hours and response time made a huge difference. I also included a fee for calls or urgent request after my normal business hours. That stopped those calls almost immediately!

  3. What a great idea! Wow, thank you for sharing that you went through the same thing. I can't believe they didn't even have urgent needs! But adding a fee for off-hour calls and urgent requests is very clever. Good for you for laying down the law – I'm impressed!

  4. WOW! Thanks for sharing that link, Dan. The "thrashing" idea is so accurate. I find myself in the midst of a lot of thrashing right now, in fact. I really appreciate the idea of "shipping." –I'll have to put that into play in this next week!

    I also like what you said about being the "hero." It's almost as if we're sometimes expected to be the translators for our clients – which makes sense, being that copy translates their message into text – but it's hard to translate something that's not well-articulated. And then just as you say – enter the pride factor, and we're stuck in a muddle! I can only hope I'll get better at separating my pride from actual holes in projects…

  5. Hi Mindy –

    I just joined the WWW and I love your nuts-and-bolts approach.

    I find that clients expect me to be the 'hero' and rescue a project at the last minute — just before something goes off to press, for example — even though I've established a timeline. It's hard to say no when your pride and high standards are involved.

    Here's a great video from Seth Godin on the "thrashing" that comes near the end of projects due to our "lizard brain" fears:

  6. Mindy, Great topic. As work at homers it really is important to set boundaries. I include some of my "rules" in my contract – revisions, billing, etc. I do set a 30 day limit for revisions without additional charge.

    With hours, I put my hours in everything – my contract, my email signature, on my website – so there is consistent statement about my availability. I do state that if they need to reach me outside of those hours, which is sometimes necessary due to timezones and my abbreviated hours (kids coming home) that we can set an appointment beforehand. And if I'm in the throes of a project that has huge time constraints, I might say a client can contact me by email on off hours and I will check in periodically.

    And then the most important thing is for me to discipline myself not to pick up the phone calls from clients after hours and simply get back to them. A couple times I've had to gently point out my hours to clients. But it hasn't been a problem – most see it as a professional thing.

    1. Hi Sarah,

      Great tips, thank you for sharing! I think you make an excellent point about consistency, especially being that it absolutely does make you appear more professional. I particularly relate to the need for self-discipline when it comes to boundaries that are already set. I think that's the mark of a real professional – someone who can calmly point out the guidelines by which they work versus someone who forgets every rule in the rush to please a client (which is what I've done in the past).

      I'll definitely incorporate your suggestions into my professional boundaries. Thank you again for sharing!


  7. Hi Mindy, You'd really think this would be a non-issue. I mean, who would think to call a professional at 10:30 at night or at 6:00 on Sunday? And, the funny part is, many of these people are business owners themselves. Though I have had college students call between 2:00 and 4:00 AM to inquire about internships, too.

    The college students along with one client – who I just had to fire – prompted me to establish these rules: my office phone only rings in my office, shut off the ringer entirely when I leave for the day and NEVER give out my home phone or cell phone numbers.

    There were other clients who called at odd hours, but they've adjusted to calling when they know I'm here, or just leaving a message.

    On the rare occasion that a client says, "I saw your car there, so I know you were home, but you didn't answer." I just explain that the phone only rings in the office, and the fact that I'm "home" doesn't mean I'm in my office.

    1. Hi Laurie,

      Great points! I watched a TV special not too long ago about how cell phones and the Internet, especially thanks to email, are changing our perception of self-importance since they cause us to always be available – at least as far as others see us.

      The interviewer also talked about how cell phones now make it possible to have conversations that are largely unimportant but essentially make us feel needed and wanted (conversations like: "Hey." "Whatcha up to?" "Nothin." "Same here." The flip side must be expecting others to be available all the time if we're out there making sure we're available, which is clearly something too many people do!

      But I like your approach. I think it's a healthy blend of confidence, self-discipline, and common logic to be able to step away from your phone like you do. Bravo – I'll take notes from this!


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