I went to visit my old chiropractor the other morning. Oh god, it was so good. Nothing I like more than being put in awkward positions and having my back brutalised by a no-bullshit South African dude. He can even crack the right side of my neck, which no other chiropractor has ever been able to do. I CAN’T EVEN DO IT MYSELF. Needless to say, the man is a genius.
But the glories of having my spine cracked are not what I’m here to talk about. I’m here to talk about why I decided to wake up at 6.30am to traipse 2.5 miles across town to see this guy, when usually I would still be asleep. And you guys know how precious I am about sleep. There’s another chiropractor literally a 5 minute walk from my flat. I could get up at 7.45am and still make my 8am appointment with time to spare.
But no, the other guy — the hour’s-walk-away guy — wins my vote. There are two reasons for this:
Firstly, the South African guy is just plain better. This is obviously a very good reason for going there. But just as important, this guy is open and honest and doesn’t try to squeeze as much money out of me as he can.
It’s that second thing I want to focus on.
Hard Selling vs Honest Selling
The 5-minutes-away chiropractor is like every other chiropractor I have ever been to. As soon as you’ve had your first appointment, they pester you to make the second one. In the same week. And two more the next week. Regardless of your specific needs, this is what they tell every single new customer, as far as I can tell: Twice a week for the first few weeks, then once a week, then once every two weeks, and on and on, until you’re going there regularly for life. This is how it’s been with the three other chiropractors I’ve visited.
You know what the South African guy said to me when I asked him whether he thought my goal of coming once a month was a good idea? Or when I asked him when I should come again next? He said we should play it by ear. It’s different for everyone. It will depend on your own needs. He even said this: ‘The goal is that you don’t have to come at all.’
You know why I went at 8am? Because it was his only available appointment that week. The rest of the time? BOOKED. UP. This is not a coincidence.
It is, of course, partly due to his excellent service. But it’s also largely due to his work ethic. The fact that he wants to do what is right for you – not what is right for him. And that makes a huge difference in this modern world of bullshit sales tactics and dishonesty.
Being told you must come twice a week (and by the way, chiropractors are not fucking cheap) regardless of your situation? Super off-putting. Reeks of desperation. And it’s deceptive. It makes you feel like you’re being lied to. Do I really need to come every week? Twice? No. I think bloody not.
Not providing a good enough service? Well, that’s unacceptable, of course. But being deceptive on top of that? Get the fuck out.
Are You Unintentionally Being Deceptive?
Alright, so maybe you’re wondering why I’m talking about shitty chiropractors with bad work ethics. How is all this relevant to you?
Well, because you’re probably making the same mistakes. I’m sure you don’t mean to. But if you lack confidence in your own abilities, or you constantly feel desperate to find the next client, then yeah, you’re probably making the same mistakes.
When you’re no longer desperate for cash, it’s easy to behave openly and honestly – to consider things from your clients’ perspectives – like my chiropractor. You don’t need this money and you won’t go to any lengths to get it, after all. You will only work with this client if you’re the right fit, and if they’re willing to pay your rates.
This is how I am with clients now. I turn most people who come to me away, either because their project doesn’t excite me (which means I won’t put my best effort in) or because I know they won’t be able to afford me. It’s easy to do now, because I make enough money with or without them.
So yeah, obviously it’s much easier to act with integrity in that situation. But what about you? You always act with integrity, right? Or maybe that’s just what you like to think. Here’s what you need to do to act with integrity:
Be. Fucking. HONEST. This is all it comes down to, really. But that’s hard, right? Hard when you have an internal monologue that goes something like this: ‘I’m shit! Why would you hire me? I’ve never done this before!’ Or perhaps, ‘I need money! I don’t know how I’m going to make rent next month! Please hire to me to write as much as possible!’ No, nothing like that. That would be silly.
So I don’t mean be honest about how you feel.
I mean be honest about helping the client. Honest in your actions and recommendations. Think about the best thing for them in this situation, rather than the best thing for you.
Maybe you think you already do this. You may be thinking, ‘Well surely the best thing for the client would be if I can write a bunch of stuff really cheaply?’ And maybe you quote too low for that reason. Because you’re scared the client won’t hire you if you quote any higher. So – think about it – in this situation, aren’t you still just doing what’s best for you? You want the client and you’ll do whatever it takes to get them, even if that means lowering your rates.
But here’s the thing about offering low rates. Don’t you feel resentful when you do it? Don’t you rush to complete the work, because this isn’t worth your time? And doesn’t that mean you end up delivering subpar work? And are your emails to your clients tinged with a hidden malice? Maybe you’re even bitching about them behind their backs?
Tell me again – how is that the best thing for the client?
The Benefits of Putting Your Clients First
Okay, there’s one final thing I need to slap you in the face with: the best thing for the client is also the best thing for you.
I know, it’s scary. Quoting a decent amount of money to make completing the job worthwhile. But here’s why this is the best thing for you (aside from the obvious fact that you’ll get more money):
- You will drive shitty clients away
Despite how you may feel at the time, this is a good thing. Clients who don’t understand value are usually also the assholes who expect way too much for way too little (I’m talking short deadlines, huge word counts, instant email responses – all for a pittance). So, charging a worthwhile amount will help weed those guys out, leaving you only with the gooduns.
- You’ll produce better work
This will make your portfolio much better. Which is obviously a good thing. Yay!
- Your reputation will grow
Nothing like doing excellent work to get people talking about/recommending you.
Is there are a caveat? Of COURSE there’s a caveat. This is life we’re talking about, not super-happy-fun-dreamland. I’m not saying you can just start charging whatever the hell you want and start winning wonderful clients all over the place. The smaller your portfolio, the fewer testimonials you have, the less experienced you are, the harder it will be to persuade people you are worth hiring. You already know this. That’s why you always seem to end up quoting so low. So what can you do about it?
How to Beat Your Desperation
Well, crucially, there are three things you need:
- A good portfolio of published work
There are multiple ways to get this, and sometimes it may involve working for free. (Shock horror!) Pro-bono work or guest posting are both viable options. More on this here.
- Social proof
Get testimonials whenever you can. If you can grow a following with your own blog, or on your social media profiles, that’ll help, too. And getting things published on top notch sites (via guest posts, usually) is a nice double whammy of growing your portfolio and your social proof.
You have to actually, you know, BE a good god damn writer. Which I’m guessing you are, since you’re here reading this, and obviously Untamed Writing readers are highly intelligent, talented writers. But still, you should constantly be trying to improve your skills. Take courses! Read books! Study how the best people in your industry do it! Always be getting better better better. I’m always trying to up my game. You should too.
Final thing to think about: my chiropractor does NOT try to talk people into buying from him. Yet he’s booked up all the time. Desperation and deceit do not work. They are not the way to winning long-term, pleasant clients. All the other chiros I’ve seen have been able to see me almost immediately. With this guy, I had to take what I could get. Because of his integrity, work ethic and superior skills, he’s able to make his business work for him – not the other way around.