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The Deafening Dread of Silent Clients

How do you communicate with your clients?

My preference? I’m an email chick through and through. I don’t like people to have to stop what they’re doing, interrupt their stream of thought, creative tangent, lunch break to talk to lil’ ol’ me.

In return I have clients who are emailers, texters, tweeters, Skypers and callers.

Having a small child and only working part time calling me isn’t often the most convenient method but most of my clients know that and are empathetic. With some clients overseas, Skype also works well as more often than not aforementioned small child is in bed when they call. Although I do feel compelled to look professional when they call, i.e. put my glasses on 🙂

Yet when a client stops communicating I wonder how to react…

Stalk them on Twitter?

Casually throw them a “I thought this might interest you” wall post on Facebook?

Suddenly start communicating by phone? Out of the blue, “Hello, how are you? Good rain we’re having… [I live in the country, there’s always time for niceties] It’s Jane McKay here. I understand you’re very busy but I’m wondering why you haven’t responded to my emails / proof / quote / colour scheme / layout idea / etc….?”

Ignore the situation, keep plodding along and hope it pans out? Constantly thinking “am I wasting my time”?

There is nothing more frustrating that working for a client and the project gets pulled (often through no fault of their own but through the upper echelons of decision-makers).

What do you do, as a freelancer, when you’ve been given the green light on a project only to have it pulled? I must say that if I’ve been given the formal go-ahead (and I never work without the green light, I learned that lesson early on) only for the client to go deafeningly silent.

In this deadline-driven industry of copywriting  / design a week of indecision can hugely affect the timing of the outcome (especially as we’re on the countdown to Christmas!). And I am not one to miss a deadline if I can do anything to avoid it.

Do you find there’s an expectation of leaving things go for a week and then expecting the freelancer to pick up the slack to meet the deadline?


About Jane McKay @janemckaycomms

I’m Jane. I write. I design. I create. In 2009, following a tree-change to sunny East Gippsland, I realised a dream and started my own business through which I have freelanced my marketing services ever since. I understand that marketing your business can be overwhelming, overcomplicated and often overlooked. That’s why I’m here. With a range of expertise built on a Masters in Media and Communications and derived from more than 8 years’ industry experience working with small companies as well as large multi-nationals, I help businesses grow. A creative soul with a strong geek side, I combine my love of wordsmithing with an interest in all things design- and tech-related.The perfect combination of skills for my career in creative marketing.


6 thoughts on “The Deafening Dread of Silent Clients

  1. Once again a pertinent post to my life!

    I appreciate it when the deadline shifts due to client silence. And would assume that the freelancer needs to pick up the pace if the deadline doesn’t shift.

    Thanks Jane.

    Always thought provoking to read your posts!


    Posted by Merryn Padgett | November 7, 2012, 1:24 pm
  2. Oh yeah, we’ve all been there!

    Posted by Geoff Livingston | November 8, 2012, 9:26 am
    • I’m sure everyone can relate but it sure is frustrating! Thanks for stopping by Geoff. I can’t believe how long it’s been since I looked at the comments on my blog. A (good) reflection on the busy-ness on my life but poor form in the blogosphere. My apologies.

      Posted by Jane McKay | November 27, 2012, 11:12 am
  3. I find it’s always helpful to manage expectations. If silence is going to impact a deadline I will send a friendly reminder email that also notes the deadline can only be made with reply to the outstanding issues by (date). If that date arrives still with no reply I will document that the deadline will have to be extended by a day for each day after or rush charges will be incurred. I always have in my agreements notes to that affect (and surprisingly have found even with big clients they often don’t read the agreement) and it either prompts the reply or they do pay. It covers my cost of childcare (I too choose to be part-time) when I have to work a full-time schedule to meet the deadline (my real cost of their rush).

    Posted by starr | November 12, 2012, 10:10 am
    • I think that’s a really good idea, Starr, as realistically changing deadlines = more childcare (not an easy manoeuvre to secure extra days, either!). I am yet to draft a formal agreement. Leaving myself vulnerable, I know. Working in the country there are many “gentleman’s agreements” however I always get quote sign off and let clients know before allotted time/budget is exceeded. I guess that’s managing expectations too?

      Posted by Jane McKay | November 27, 2012, 11:16 am

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