Hey, freelancer—business owner! Let’s cut to the giblets: prospects lie. Don’t believe me? Read this article, it’s written just for you, like almost EVERYTHING I write (except for the article Eating ass is hardly ever planned, that baby is universal).
Ok, Karen, not all prospects lie but ‘Prospects lie (some don’t and some tell lies when they’re protecting people they love) when they say you’re a perfect fit’ is way too long a title.
Are you ever just minding your own, working at your desk, when you hear that familiar LinkedIn notification chime?
Thrilling, isn’t it?
I mean, who is ‘reaching out’ to little ol’ you?
Could it be Matt with his one-word message again? He’s dropping his weekly “Hi” in the hopes that you’ll say hi back—and if you don’t this time, he’ll lose his shit and call you a rude bitch—a rude bitch that he doesn’t want to chat with anyway because you’re not actually that good-looking, despite him leering at your profile photo daily (and banging one out to it).
That’s why DMs are such fun, you never know what will happen.
Perhaps that jolly tinkly sound is alerting you to a lukewarm lead. Yes! It’s a DM from a lying prospect who is trying to convince you that you’re both made to measure.
Those scamps tentatively ask about your services. They pussyfoot around the subject, tepidly enquiring about what it is you do—even though it clearly states on your profile what it is you do. And after all, isn’t that the reason they’re contacting you because they want the fucking thing you do?
Eventually, these prospects get around to asking this: “What’s your hourly rate?” because that’s all they care about—money. So when they open with compliments they speak with forked tongue—they care not for quality but how much quantity they can squeeze outta you for a paltry fee.
The joke’s on them though coz what freelancer/business owner (in their right mind) is offering an hourly rate? Sorry, you are? Christ on a bike!
And again—prospects lie.
Yeah, ‘prospects lie’ is the keyword for this post so I want to stuff it in as many times as I can without it reading like shit—and before you say “It’s a little late for that” keep reading, it gets better… maybe… possibly…
These lying potentials are not gagging to work with you.
So before you get breathless at the thought of their loving embrace, slam on the brakes and become the ultimate ice queen.
These folks are only interested in one thing: how low can you go? But you’re not prepared to play price limbo even if you had the back for it—which you don’t (because your back is like mine, absolutely fucked).
Repeat after me: I will never be cheap, especially during these trying times.
“Sarah, I slip into you like a hand in a tailor-made glove…”
One day I heard that cheerful peal from my LinkedIn inbox. Here’s the message I received:
“I’m looking to hire a content writer with a business background for our company based in the UK. Your profile seems like a perfect fit. Could you please share more about yourself? It would be great if you could share your updated resume with me. Thanks.”
The short answer (and the correct answer) to this DM is “hell, no”. If you think that seems like an unwarranted response, stick around. Lemme explain why this company is anything but a perfect fit…
Straight off the bat, I am expected to do some donkey work—work that I have already done. And if they’ve read my profile, as they said they have, they would already know all they need to. They also think I am a prospective employee. I would only send out a resume when applying for a job or if I were an American—which I am not.
They had an access-all-areas pass to my profile and website. That’s more than enough for them to realise how much of a perfect fit we are—which they already said we were, confused? Me too.
I get the impression that this person is not ready to buy. They are window shopping at this stage. They are browsing for a generic content writer and price is their greatest consideration. And I know this because they quickly asked about my hourly rate—ha! Everything about me screams ‘price per project’!
FYI: this is why broad keywords don’t convert as much as long-tail keywords. People get specific when they want to buy. Read Smash your keywords with customer intent to find out more.
It’s my duty to put an end to this bullshit.
I need to take control and swing the balance of power my way.
If I make the mistake of replying with something like, “Oh sure! Let me just get all that for you!” I sound like a simpering pissant. I will become an impotent and pathetic excuse for a business owner.
I give them the deets about my process.
It doesn’t take long for me to figure that if this business were a pair of trousers, they would chafe and ride up my bum crack.
Turns out they weren’t peachy keen (see what I did there—peachy—bum crack) on my prices nor my Client Qualifier. In a very short space of time, I realised this prospect was not a size 10 (which is what I am if you’d like to buy me something expensive).
Dodging a dodgy prospect is easy.
Especially when you know what to look out for. And I wrote this to help you: 5 bad client traits and how to deal with them. Read it (if you wanna).
But sometimes a seemingly perfect prospect becomes a badly fitting client. And that can happen when people say one thing but mean another.
Because, hello, PROSPECTS LIE.
Picture this: the client has actually taken the time to read your blurb. They so enjoy your blog, like really dig the way you write and they want you to create original content as you but for them. At last! The most amazing gig!
So you do just that only to receive this email:
“That article you wrote is way too informal for us.”
Well, this is awkward.
(I know what you’re thinking: it was all the swearing. Nope. There were no fucks in it—not a single bloody or bugger coz I get it, 99% of organisations don’t want that.)
Was it conversational? Check. Did it use some slang? Check. And it was me, right? Which they said was cool, RIGHT?
Yeah, not really.
If there were a rule book about human interaction this should be its first commandment. Most misunderstandings are down to being shit at saying what you want.
If I can’t nail the tone of voice, understand a style guide or make sure the content is bang on for the audience, I have no business writing for business. This is basic stuff when it comes to content writing. So what the hell went so bloody wrong? The blame lies, in part, with me. I missed a key step in my process, which I will never do again. But the client wasn’t communicating honestly—ok maybe clearly is a better word for it. (Damn. Looks like I’ll have to change my keyword.)
And there is no way of knowing that.
Even if you assume everyone is holding back—even when they lie to you, you don’t know that it’s happening. You have to trust that what they say is what they mean. What this client should have said was this: “We really like the way you write but we need you to write like our other writers but with a bit of you thrown in but not too much you, maybe a pinch of you.”
So although my name would be published in the article they wanted a watered-down version of my style—all that extra me would not fly. And that’s absolutely acceptable.
This experience has helped me understand the kind of work I do not want to do (a list that never stops growing). I will never again lend my voice to a brand or business that asks me to tone down, diminish or bland up my writing. Because if you love me, you don’t want to change me.
Final thoughts: most prospects suck.
In real business life, sifting through prospects is like trying to find a chocolate raisin in a rabbit hutch—you’ll probably have to bite down on a few spicy bumbles before you chomp the sweet taste of success.
Beware of those that start by saying you’re a perfect fit. Just remember that pair of chafing trousers—oh and yeah, prospects lie. Still wanna work with me after reading this? Superb, click here.
I’m a freelance business content writer at The Sarky Type®. My thang is SEO-informed blurb that sets your words on fire (ablaze with LOLs and engagement not to be confused with real fire that destroys everything in sight. Metaphors are better when they don’t require explanation. Note to self).