Hooking up with clients for custom work is often a pain in the a**. Here's the scenario:
- Client contacts me via IM with a vague request for some type of custom work
- The description of the work is unclear, so I must ask a lot of questions
- Client is typically offline when I am on! (Or perhaps I am offline when they are online) and we can't converse directly
- Negotiations occur at a very slow pace since we can't hook up
- We friend each other, in hopes of catching each other online and be able to talk through the work description in detail
- We don't catch each other because the client is in Australia or some other far away place (at least from me, anyway)
- Work slows and the deal fades away
- I end up with a bunch of "friends" who occupy space on my list, eventually requiring cleanup
That's not a good way to handle business.
So I developed a couple of simple techniques that I believe overcome at least some of this silliness.
First, I now try to negotiate via notecard when ever possible. I ask the client to write down as best they can a complete description of what they desire. Then we can edit the notecard and toss it back and forth, resulting in a semblance of a reasonable discussion. At least the avatar-to-avatar bandwidth is slightly better, and you should get a written record of the request for future reference.
Secondly, I have created a unique "Pick Up" area at Electric Pixels marked as "Special Delivery". It's off to the side away from the main shopping area so that visitors don't confuse its contents with normal products. What do I do with it? I place custom work there for clients to pick up, even when I am not around. This way they can "Buy" the product as if it's a normal product and a traceable transaction is recorded instead of a mysterious "Gift".
I also use the "Special Delivery" as a place to deposit prototypes for clients to come and test them live while I am off doing RL activities.
So if you happen to come by Electric Pixels, you might see some strange things afoot in Special Delivery. Do Not Be Alarmed!