No matter how euphoric or abysmal a first date may be, the awkwardness of the follow-up phone call is unavoidable.
Maybe they told you to call because they actually do want to “do this again sometime,” or maybe they only said it because it was the only polite go-to statement to insert between dry heaves. You don’t know.
Being freelance is like dating, all of the time. In fact, it’s like dating and seeking not one True Love, but several. Preferably enough True Loves to do the cooking, the cleaning, and the taxes, and maybe a True Love that gifts you with a new iPod, too.
And after that first date, may it end with a mutually beneficial make-out session or a long, sleepless night pondering what would have happened if you just hadn’t made that one joke about liking anal, there will be an inevitable follow-up. Because just as much as freelancing is like dating, being a freelancer is like being a divorcée in her early forties who just dropped three dress sizes over the summer. Every date is a good date. Every date, even the bad ones, is worthy of a follow-up.
Okay, not every date. But most. The real doozies end before the bill is even paid.
Which leads me to where we are now, following up with a handful of clients who have tickled us over the past six months. Most of these companies had other projects for us in the proverbial hopper, that is, it’s like they definitely talked about taking us to that Ratatat show in September. We’re just getting in touch to let them know, again, how much fun we had back in July and, hey, wasn’t there some concert coming up?
It’s a weird line to walk, at least for me. I have too much pride to want to seem desperate (well, obviously not too much pride, after all, this is a blog about how close my hand is to my mouth on a daily basis) but I don’t want to let another potential job pass us by just because of the risk that the second gig has fallen through, or our main contact moved to Prague, or they just don’t have the money in light of their recent Peanut Butter and Chocolate Poppycock habit. Especially because the gigs that said goodbye with the thank-you-and-can’t-wait-for-next-time email were all surprisingly enjoyable and interesting. To have more work like that in our portfolio — and to not have to worry about rent for another month — would be a wet dream.
When constructing these follow-up letters two main things came to mind:
1. Let the client know what work we’ve done since we last spoke and how it has enhanced our portfolio, and thereby our capabilities.
2. Remind them who the hell we are.
Soon after sending these little cyber postcards from the edge, an old but uncomfortably familiar feeling crept up.
I was left with the question of how long to gauge before it is evident that, no, in fact, they don’t want to speak to us ever again.
I’m not even sure if sending a follow-up email is industry standard, but I can bet you my bottom .35 (that’s how much is in the change purse currently) that companies don’t have a standard “Uh, we were just saying that to be nice, we’re just not ready for any kind of commitment” email.
So how long do we wait before we know? I guess the answer is simple, until we get more work. Just like dating, I know this much is true, don’t call again. Especially not to tell them that you’ve picked out the names for your kids.
Simon Goetz owes me a post.
He also misses shows because he is reading Japanese manga suitable for all ages. Not only does he read kids comics, but he also eats orange Tic-Tacs, which everyone knows are the grossest flavor of Tic-Tacs around.
I am running out of marginally embarrassing things to share about him. Pretty soon I’m going to have to delve into the kind of material that will leave me either sleeping on the couch or seeking that first date follow-up phone call.
Salutations or sex solicitations: AinsleyDrew at gmail