In what seems like a previous life, I was a marketing gun for hire, tapped by venture capitalists and executive directors to dramatically boost the visibility of cash-hemorrhaging startups and struggling nonprofits. As a longtime journalist, I had a knack for marketing.
But I hated dealing with outside vendors, especially website designers.
You could never pin them down on a time frame for completing projects, nor the bottom line for securing their services before signing a contract with them. Most were more interested in seeing how much cash they could squeeze from my budget than they were in completing projects. Missed deadlines were part of doing business with freelancers, because, like construction contractors, they onboarded as much business as they could, with little regard for having enough hours in the day to service all those clients in a timely manner.
So I simply learned to do it myself. I had always been a writer -- a highly decorated reporter for newspapers and magazines across the country -- so it was merely a matter of acquiring the technical and design skills to go along with my passion for content. After years of putting myself through the paces, I founded Clean Break Media in 2015.
When the pandemic struck in 2020, my business took a big hit, like so many others. Then something magical occurred: Legions of corporate employees, many of them legitimately fearing that their pre-Covid positions would be drastically altered (if they ever returned at all), finally summoned the motivation to pursue their dreams.
There's nothing like an existential crisis to force one's hand, and for those who entrusted me with helping them build new businesses from the ground up, I felt obligated to go above and beyond. I found myself playing the role of motivator and cheerleader. Oftentimes after completing a website, my clients needed my marketing services to attract potential clients to their new sites, but couldn't afford to invest any further until they had positive cash flow. So I simply gave away those services -- $77,000 worth of pro bono marketing for my website clients from June 2020-June 2022, when the pandemic was raging.
And while life in the pricey Bay Area would have been considerably more comfortable had I collected those funds, I never balked at my decision -- one which has informed Clean Break Media's code of loyalty toward its clients. In turn, my clients have returned the favor: In the past two years, 77% of CBM's website clients have signed on for additional services. The most popular: E-newsletter design/content and ghostwriting blogs.
Whether or not Clean Break Media is your choice for website design and beyond, consider yourself armed with leverage for any contractor you are considering: insist that you get the final price AND the delivery date upfront, and have them guarantee delivery at the cost of financial penalty if they don’t meet the deadline. If they resist on either front, send ‘em a link to this site to let them know there are contractors who put clients first.
Or, you know, just give Clean Break Media a call.
Brian spent the first two decades of his adulthood as a journalist for newspapers and magazines across the country. Check out some of his work!
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