I met yesterday with Client #2, who probably needs a better nickname, since he comes up a lot in these chronicles and may come up more. In real life, I tend to call him The Computer Guy, but that may not do either. We’ll see. Anyway, we sat at his meeting table. I had suggested that we offer tech workshops for teachers. Our local teachers have to do six hours every year of tech training, and I had been planning to provide some for them, before the store closed. I had found a nice woman who was willing to do it, and I would have done the publicity and people would have registered through the store and incidentally shopped there, while The Computer Girl made scads of money.
Instead, Client #2 and I can make scads of money, assuming that it isn’t too late to do the publicity. He said, “Talk about the school thing while I boot up,” and we worked out a strategy. Once he was booted up, we checked the documents for the sample site we’re building for the class he’s teaching at the Small Business Development Center next month.
At one point, he began to ask about tags for a specific page. I was surprised by his question, so he pulled up some code and began explaining tags to me. “I’m surprised,” I said, “because I already did that. Did you want something different?”
We went back to the document, he saw the tags, and we moved on. I think this occasionally happens because he is a computer engineer and I am not, so he doesn’t yet know the limits of my ignorance. I have plenty of ignorance, but since I am self-taught, it is probably in unpredictable places. I expect that Client #2 finds himself thinking, “She knows about this but she doesn’t know about that?!” sometimes.
We moved on to the written materials. ‘That first section.” he said, “is exactly what I wanted to say.” This is of course exactly what you want to hear when you write something for someone else. We conferred a bit on the materials and how best to use written materials in a presentation.
“I don’t want people looking through them while I’m speaking,” he said.
“I’ve known people who had that problem,” I agreed, “but if you’re interesting, it’s not going to happen.”
I shared Client #3’s experience with him. She had gone to a class like the one he’s planning to do, and hadn’t grasped most of it. She took home the materials and read them, and it made more sense to her. When I explained it to her, she was able to put it all together — what she had learned before, with the direct application I was offering her to the information about her website that we were looking at on her computer screen. With any luck, #2 Client’s class will provide all of that.
The next topic was a pitch for a large financial institution. Their website has a photograph on it: a distinguished-looking man in chinos and a cashmere sweater, sitting in the sand resting against an old rowboat with a Pendleton blanket tossed onto it, reading a leather-bound book. Clearly, the site is saying “We specialize in the problems of the rich.” The rest of the site says, “We didn’t have time to write anything on all these dozens of pages, tra la la, hire us.” Client #2 is near an agreement with these folks. “This is the level of client I want,” he said, and then continued in a surprised voice, “and they don’t want to write their own content.”
“Um, yeah, that’s what I told you,” I did not say. I merely agreed. I went home after the meeting, analyzed the site, and came up with a plan and a time estimate for it. Client #2 liked it, and if the financial institution also likes it, then I should be able to pay my bills next month.
But at that point in the meeting, Client #2 stood up and went to the markerboard. I would never go to a markerboard in a meeting of two people, myself, but they do it on Numb3rs all the time. Must be a math thing. Anyway, he drew four boxes.
“This is the way I see the business going.” He labeled the boxes: design, cut, content, frameworking. Once he explained “cut” to me, he pointed to “content.” “This is your part,” he said. He then went on to explain that he was hiring an intern to put in another of the boxes. He has realized he said, that he doesn’t need to do all of it himself.
This is the person I went to back when I first got the news that the store was closing. There in the store, in fact. I googled for SEO firms in my neighborhood, found his, and emailed him saying that he should hire me. He gave me some contract work, paid me, and then said, “If I were in a position to hire someone, would I hire you? Absolutely!”
I’ve had steady work from him since then, though I haven’t been paid again, since the projects haven’t yet been finished. I am tempted to see yesterday’s markerboard talk as a species of commitment to ongoing work. If I had a steady ten hours a week from this guy, it would replace my previous income. My other clients would keep me in yarn and books. I would get to spend my worktime doing things I enjoy.
I don’t know that I am really at the point at which it would make sense to quit thinking of myself as unemployed, or to quit job hunting. Nor am I quite sure what I would do if I were hired for one of the challenging jobs I’ve applied for, if the workshops fill and the financial institution goes for Client #2’s lures. Give up sleep, I guess.
It’s encouraging, though.