My telephone conversation with Client #6 was not entirely reassuring. He says things like, “What’s going on?” and then I say things like, “I’m requesting links. That ranges from pitching stories to NPR and Wired.com to directory submissions.” And then we have a long silence. Then his phone cuts out.

Then he calls back and asks interview type questions like, “How do you follow up on requests?” or “Do you use bot submissions?” Fortunately, I had answers for these questions. But then there are long silences. His phone cuts out again, so I go outside in case that will help and call him back. He mentions a couple of SEO celebrities, I recognize their names for him, and there are more long silences. He is calling me again on Friday, and I am going to have to come up with something to say.

With my other clients, I can inform them that they now have twice as many links as they had before (over twice as many, in fact, Formerprincess), but with this guy, I would have to say something like, “You did have a mere 1,999,194 links, and now I’ve requested a further forty-three, and what the heck, pretty soon you’ll hit two million.”

Janalisa pointed out that the mere fact that the Chief Technical Officer, one of the founders of a company that went online in the prehistory of the internet, is bothering to call me at all must say something. And he did send me an email of notes on linkbuilding from a seminar he attended with a major light in the field — and I was already doing just about all that it suggested. I found that reassuring. Maybe I should use more SEO jargon. Maybe I should claim to have tight code, although you, who have seen the inaccuracies of my lace, know that I don’t.

I then had an IM conversation with Client #2, who was very happy with the materials and how the presentation went. “I’ve enjoyed working with you on this project,” I typed, “and I hope we’ll work together more in the future.” He didn’t respond at all. Of course, that could mean that someone walked into the office or he went to get a cup of coffee, just as easily as that he never wants to work with me again.

So I am getting to feel somewhat insecure, which is of course good for the old humility.

Client #4 is coming to my house this morning so I can show her things about her website. I have no idea what financial arrangement she has in mind, but I am frankly hoping for something steady. “Steady,” in fact, is my primary goal right now. Before she arrives, I’ll need to come up with a formula of some kind, balancing steadiness with an hourly rate, so that I can determine what degree of steadiness it would take for me to accept what kind of fee.

That is, I’m accepting a fee of $XX per hour from Clients 2 and 6 on the grounds that they are offering me relatively steady work, and will charge one-shot people more, should I ever have any of those. If Client #4 is prepared to offer a set amount per month on  a permanent basis, say, then how much would it have to be for me to offer her the same level of service as Clients 2 and 6? Ideally, I should be able to come up with a percentage. Then I could have my official hourly fee, and apply discounts: so much for an assured number of hours per week, so much for a definite commitment for a number of months, so much for actually putting me on the payroll…

I think it should be a really cool-looking formula, though, not a chart. It should have twiddly bits like accidentals in music, and possibly some parentheses. Then, when someone asks me my rates, I can just show them the equation and offer to plug in their variables.

Having a client come over also means that I have to tidy my house. What level of tidiness would you expect from a Computer Guy? Maybe I should add some pizza delivery boxes.

#2 son is going camping with friends, in celebration of the end of the school year. They are not taking any adults. They are all 16 or 17. I expressed some concern over this as he loaded his grocery cart with meatitude and sweetitude, but he said, “We have cell phones,” witheringly, as though new technologies could be expected to change life entirely. Adults are no longer needed, and there are no more dangers, because they have cell phones.