29 June 2006

Phoning under false pretences

I'd just settled down to watch the start of Agassi's second-round match at Wimbledon when the phone rang. There was a Ms X at the other end of the line, saying that she'd been looking at my website and wondered if she could refer me to some of her clients. Ms X runs a virtual office service. I had no problem with that, but then came the real reason for her call.

Next, she offered to have my website search-engine optimised. As my website is about to rebuilt from scratch, with precisely that in mind, I wasn't interested. The graphic designer I work with is going to be doing the work and I have full confidence in his abilities. Besides, my website is really only a business card - most of my work comes in through word of mouth, so I'm not too bothered about being high up in Google's rankings. She was persistent, though.

Then she wanted to know if I'd be a reseller for her company newsletter! I thought, the flaming cheek! Why would I want to do that? Very politely, and through gritted teeth, I pointed out that I am extremely busy working as an editor and writer, and that I had neither the time nor the inclination to flog someone else's newsletter. My client list is private, anyway. I'm not interested in spamming them. I'm much more concerned with maintaining lasting client relationships.

Ms X finally got the message and asked once again if it would be ok to refer clients who need my services. Except it turned out she wants me to work under her banner! By now I was boiling with fury and I told her bluntly that I don't work for agencies, that I never have, I never will, and that I have a policy not to. Too many agencies are sloppy at passing on feedback and are late payers to boot. I know a number of freelance creatives who have tried agency work, only to get nothing but grief from the association. Besides, why work for an agency when you can work directly for a client? It cuts out the middleman, who is basically taking a very large cut for facilitating a transaction. I'm not short of work, anyway. I certainly don't need an agency to generate any for me.

I finally got rid of Ms X. I do not need people like her trying to tell me how to run my business, sell me things I don't need or want, and take a cut of my earnings.

I missed two games of the Agassi match while I was fending off Ms X.

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