I’ve been doing consulting for a while now, and while I’d like to branch out and do some kind of product that provides a bit more stability, it’s not a bad life. I have enough going that I can turn down the odd request or two if I don’t feel they’re a good fit, so almost all my clients are enjoyable to work with and good experiences in their own ways. However, I wanted to write a bit about one kind of client that’s great to find, the “easygoing client”, for lack of a better term. These are the people who may not pay the most, or provide the most interesting technical challenges, but who are simply easy to work with, and happy with what you do, and satisfied with letting you guide them in terms of technology. It’s easy to develop long term relationships with these clients, because they’re generally happy with what you do, and you get to know what they need, and can therefore provide them with good service at a reasonable price. Depending on the situation, you can also work together to try out new technologies, perhaps with the client receiving a discount for being something of a guinea pig. For instance, for several years, my friend Cristiano’s book shop ran on a combination of Rivet and a Tcl/Tk application installed locally. When it came time to redo the site several years ago, we agreed to experiment with doing the whole thing via the web, utilizing Ruby on Rails, which I was fairly new to at the time. It worked out well for him because he got an improved system at a good price, and I got to test out something new, which has gone on to become part of my repertoire. (BTW, we just redid the site again – if you’re looking for antique Italian books, it’s worth a look: http://www.libreriaminerva.it/ ).
It’s good to have a variety of clients, and having a few ‘easygoing’ ones makes a nice counterpart to others where there is more money on the line, and more pressure (which is justified if they’re paying well, of course) to charge in and start making a difference right away.