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Don’t Let a Vampire Client Bleed You Dry


Vampires are popping up everywhere in the media these days. While they may be entertaining on the big screen or in bestselling novels, they aren’t so hot on your client list.

You know what I’m talking about. Vampire clients are the ones who drain every bit of energy out of you. By the time the project is over (or even before) you vow to never accept another assignment from them again.

Do any of these scenarios sound familiar? Your client:

Changes the focus of the project mid-way through, requiring additional research and interviews.

  • Changes the focus of the project mid-way through, requiring additional research and interviews.
  • Expects more—more words per article, an accompanying sidebar, an additional couple of sources or the coordination of photos or photo shoots—for the same amount of money.
  • Calls late on a Friday afternoon with a project that must be in his hands by Monday morning.
  • Doesn’t provide you with the information you need to do your job. Then, sends the end-product back to be tweaked, and re-tweaked, and tweaked some more . . . because it isn’t what she wanted.

Now, I’m not saying that this behavior is exclusive to the vampire client. Occasionally A-list clients exhibit these behaviors. That’s just the business climate we operate in these days.

The difference is:

  • While an A-list client may occasionally make the same demands on you, it isn’t the norm.
  • You don’t feel drained. You feel like a valued member of the client’s team.

If you consistently feel like the walking dead when working with a client, it could be time to part ways. Despite the loss of income, cutting a vampire client loose could be the best thing you can do. Why? Here’s what you’ll get in return:

  • More time and energy.
  • Increased self-respect.
  • A positive outlook that will help you attract new and better clients.
  • An improved quality of life.

Although it may be a scary thing to do, it’s well worth it.

But before you get the scissors out, take a step back and look at the messages you are sending to your so-called vampire clients. Could you have unwittingly created the problem?

  • Have you passively accepted a client’s terms without question?
  • Have you ever asked for a higher rate of pay for a rush job?
  • When you quote a price per project, do you specify the terms, in writing?

Open up a line of communication with them and let them know your expectations and why. Listen to what they have to say. See if you can find a middle ground that benefits both of you. If not, then you’ll have your answer. And more time and energy, an increased self-respect, a positive outlook and a better quality of life!

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