Day 142 – “Value” and “Quality” and Positive Indifference

Shorter walk today to let my legs rest and it felt ok. I’m glad to keep walking at least. It is also somewhat humid. I do wish the mornings were cool. It is better than 100+ degrees in Sacramento but I do miss a morning chill in the air.

I had an interesting interaction with a potential client who didn’t work out. There was a post on a Sacramento WordPress message board looking to hire someone to help out on a website. It was posted pretty early and I responded first since I’m 2 hours ahead of Sacramento and a morning person anyway. My post was pretty laid back, just mentioning I do web stuff professionally and give me a call if she wants to talk about her project with my name, website, and number. Also messaged her on the same site.

Later in the afternoon I got a call and we started talking about her project. Potential red flags were the previous web developer that cut her off, and me having to slow her down in her ranting about various things. But it is instructive for me to play along and see where things go. I’m still at the point where I will talk to ANYONE for about 30 minutes max and look at their site and let them know what I see.

She was talking for a while about search engine optimization and how her site was ranking on the 2nd or 3rd page of Google search results and she wanted to go higher. All good things. I mentioned some things that often cause sites to rank lower (headings, site speed) and she assured me those were ok. I ask what is her website. “www.value<name of her service>.com”. Hmm. I don’t like having value in the name. It’s like having quality in the name. Yes, that is what I said to her. Pause. Well there is a reason for the name to be that way, she says. That’s cool, I say.

I was trying to poke at her but I also have a problem with companies with “Value” or “Quality” in their name. It is a nonsense word. Everyone is trying to provide value or quality. Especially putting the word “value” in the name is a red flag for cheap. Which she admitted her services are. And not much money to spend. And she doesn’t like recurring service fees.

Ok, then she is going to be an hourly client if at all. Especially since that is the only way I’ll get fair return on my time. I mention my hourly rate and there is silence. I think actually her phone cut out and she didn’t hear the number but I wasn’t willing to repeat it because I don’t want to focus on the money. I figure it will become clear soon enough.

She suggests that I email her so she can email me the login to her site and hosting and take a look and see what I think. That is fine. And I no longer worry about people emailing me passwords. You shouldn’t do it. Really. NEVER email me or anyone else your passwords. But I’m no longer interested in coaching people about that for free. I figure if they are going to do it with me they have done it hundreds of times before with less reputable people.

I log in and have a look. Search engine optimization is so-so. The couple of things she assured me were handled were definitely not which to me accounts for a couple page drop in search placement. Also weird, her hosting account has space for 50GB of storage and 49.5GB are used. Yet her site has 5 pages and a handful of images. I looked around and couldn’t quickly see where the extra space had gone. I wondered if she was hacked and someone was serving files off of the site but I didn’t get that far. Looked like there were some unlicensed plugins or plugins with expired licenses that either way would prevent her site content getting edited until that was fixed.

I wrote up a report about this, gave some suggestions on how to look at higher ranking sites to see what they are doing right, etc. She wrote back saying I needed to provide an estimate of total cost before we could proceed.

Funny. But not surprising. I wrote back talking about unknown factors and project estimation processes. I suggested she start with my 5 hour package (my minimum for hourly engagements) and then see where we end up. She wrote back that she couldn’t afford that and she would look for other options. I wished her well.

I was pretty happy with how all of it went. I didn’t feel pressure to take on a client who would end up being a bad client. She says she is in business for 9 years and gets some business from the website but if she can’t afford to invest in the website to keep it going or fix it after some years of neglect, then I think that is a troubled business which could bring me down with it.

“Positive Indifference” from the blog post title means not being attached to an outcome. I’m confident in what I can do and knowing what sort of client is right for my business. If I meet a lead who doesn’t match what I’m looking for, then bringing them on will be dangerous to my business. Turning down a client or refusing to compromise what I need is important to be able to do. Never take on bad business. Doing so is bad for me and bad for my existing clients.