I’ve been doing some reading about whether all clients are created equal, and most of what I have found suggests that they should be divided into categories depending on whether they are likely to give you more work and/or referrals. The idea is that you give better service to the clients that you have decided are most worth your while.
Before I started freelancing, I worked as a legal assistant for several years. My first job after I finished college was at a very large law firm. Rather than get drawn into office politics of “Don’t you know who I am?”, it seemed simpler and more prudent on my part to decide to treat everyone who worked there in exactly the same way. Then I didn’t need to worry about whether the person I was talking to was a senior partner or a messenger working in the mail room. (Senior partners tend to dress a little better, but you get my point….)
I continued with the same strategy when I started freelancing. I don’t treat clients better or give them more of an effort depending on how big the project is or if I think they are someone who can give me referrals. All of them are equal, and deserve to be treated with respect. They are paying me to produce the best work that I can for them, at the price we have agreed upon. I don’t have different levels of service that depend on what that figure happens to be.
If a client ever asked, “Don’t you know who I am?,” the answer is clear. I would say, “You are my client.” That’s all that needs to be said. The truth is that the people who have turned into long-term clients started me off with small projects. Business relationships take time to develop. Treat all of your clients equally well and you are on your way to building long-lasting ones.