We all get excited about new projects; we’re daydreaming about possibilities from the first contact with a potential client. Most professionals have an established onboarding process, with contracts to sign and business assets to acquire; if you’re a coder, you probably set up a fresh new repository; if you’re a designer, you create a new project folder. All of us start imagining how the case study will look in our portfolio.
But few, if any, plan for the end of a project. Offboarding clients simply isn’t a thing. We build their site, and then one day, we don’t.
It may be that the client moves on; hopefully, you’ve done a good enough job that they can’t resist bringing you on board for their next startup. All too often, projects languish in some half-life, with occasional security patches that net you a whole $5 in service charges; is that why you got into web design? Probably not. There is the desirable option of upselling; if your client’s business grows due to your work, then more work should grow it some more.
If you’re great at startups, you’re probably not great at maintaining sites in the long term. If you’re great at maintaining sites, you’re probably not great at growing them.
For every cycle of a project’s life, there are different kinds of professionals who suit it best. And conversely, different cycles of a project suit you and your skillset better than others.
We all know that a bad client — demanding, rude, late at paying — should be fired. But what about a good client — a client who pays quickly, is friendly, professional, accommodating? Would you fire a good client if you’d outgrown the work?