First off, let me say that you should ALWAYS try to exceed your client’s expectations. It’s not about promising the moon, you should always be honest and upfront with clients about their expectations vs reality. I always say to under promise, and over deliver, that way you always look good – but sometimes even over-delivering still doesn’t keep everyone happy.
I’ve been working with one of my attorney clients for over a year now. She’s been a good client for a long time and I’ve appreciated her business. But with that being said, I spent more time with her each month than I did any other client. For a while, that wasn’t a big deal, but as time went on, it kept getting worse and worse.
Her expectations went from being manageable to unrealistic when Page 1 rankings weren’t good enough, she had to be #1 on page for all of her keywords and “she was paying me to generate those results.” At that time, she was paying for a package that included 5 keywords but I had her ranking for over 10 -and again this wasn’t good enough anymore and she wanted more visibility for other phrases.
At that point – I told her if her goals have changed, she needs to choose another package that will accommodate those goals and that I could not sustain her rankings for all of her keywords unless she upgraded to a package that would accommodate a higher number of kw’s or we need to go back and focus on her original 5 (which her package was designed for). Her response to me was that she needed to be #1 for all of her kw’s before she upgraded her package. So at this point, it’s an uncomfortable stand off. I’m not going to work for free, or allocate more time & resources to her campaign unless.
At that point, the emails really started coming in, 2 times, 3 times, sometimes 5 times per day regarding the status of her campaign. Things snowballed into all of a sudden she expected me to manage her Google + profile, and then she wanted me to manage her Social Media profiles too.
Part of this was my fault, because in the beginning I wanted to accommodate her, flex some SEO muscle and show her what I could do for her. But she didn’t appreciate it. I never drew that line in the sand, and months later she now expected far more than her package ever included.
Not very often, do I have issues with clients, and when I do, I try to resolve them fast and effectively. But this campaign had turned into a much bigger time commitment and headache than it was worth. I run my own offline business for a reason- because I like the freedom and flexibility it offers me & my family. But this campaign had somehow turned into a employee – employer type of relationship and I was starting to DREAD getting up in the morning and signing on – Working for someone who is never happy with your work is not something I wanted to continue to do, and if that means I have to give up and $900/month campaign- that’s what I was going to do.
At the end of the month, I requested we have a quick chat over the phone and basically I mentioned to her that I thought what she needed, and what I offered wasn’t a good match anymore and I referred her to a couple other SEO services and simply told her that we can still be friends, but I felt that we’ve reached a point where it’s best if we move forward separately for the good of both our businesses.
Honestly – it felt more like it was a relationship breakup, and at the beginning she was upset. I knew that she wanted to continue but she eventually came around and saw that I still had her best interest in mind. (and this way i get to keep my sanity)
It’s been 2 months since I “broke it off” and I got to tell you… It’s a lot quieter without her 5 emails and 2 phone calls per day, but I wouldn’t take it back for the world. You live you learn and I’m much happier in my business now after walking away.