Expectations: how to not get it twisted

I built a site for someone with a customised CMS.
I made it super easy to use.
The site looked great.
And it had rock solid SEO too.
Took them 2 weeks to get to #1 (I admit the competition was weak).
So to me, this was a success.
They got a great site that they could update themselves, and the site outranked everyone for everything.
You’d think they’d be in a hurry to pay my invoice.
But no.
After 3 months of reminder emails, I finally got a reply:
“we haven’t had a single enquiry from the site so we will not pay your invoice”
Somehow, they got it all twisted.
Somewhere, somehow, they thought that results were guaranteed.
Or that merely having a site would open the floodgates.
I’m pretty careful with my words. You’ll see in all my content I talk about how having a site doesn’t mean you’ll get found. And being #1 doesn’t mean you’re always going to get business.
SEO is about optimising for search engines, specifically rankings.
It’s not about getting more business or sales (at least not directly).
Yes, with more visibility, and higher rankings, you SHOULD get more business because you’re more prominent.
But that doesn’t always happen.
I made the mistake of not taking a deposit from these guys first.
And I also did not manage expectations as well as I should.
I mean, I definitely did not say they’ll be getting all the leads.
But I probably said they’d get the lions share of the pie because their site would rank #1.
Frankly, I think it was also just a case of being too far ahead of the curve and the market not being ready for it.
I eventually got paid after I made my case heard (no raising of voices or acts of violence necessary).
But it taught me a valuable lesson: always be clear, upfront and reasonable from the get go.
You can’t afford to lie or be vague in order to seal a deal. It will come back to bite you.
Be realistic with results, performance, timelines, everything. And if you find yourself being unable to meet expectations, get in front of it before it spirals out of control.
Good clients will understand and appreciate your honesty and willingness to accept responsibility – and your clear desire to make things right.
Anyone else is probably not worth the money and you can kiss the goodbye.

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