Forget what they told you in school. Forget what your family and friends tell you. The truth is, nobody cares about you. Okay, let me qualify that. Other than your immediate family and close friends, nobody cares. Certainly in the business world, nobody cares. When I say that, I mean that nobody has any particular interest in you or your personal life as opposed to anyone else. Do you have a perfectly good reason for submitting late or inferior work? Nobody cares that your grandmother died or that you had to stay up all night with a distraught boyfriend or that you lost power in a storm. The only important thing in a freelance business relationship is the work. It’s different when you are a full time employee. Full timers see their co-workers and bosses every day, and often form close personal relationships with them. Business owners sometimes think of their employees as an extended family. If a full timer has some kind of family tragedy or extenuating circumstance and can’t come in to work, it’s not unusual for everyone to pitch in and shoulder his or her load until things blow over.
Freelancers have a much different experience. They generally work on a “per job” basis, and often don’t see their employers before or after a particular job (and in the internet age, sometimes not even during). Freelancers are hired to deliver job “X” under conditions “Y” by deadline “Z.” That is the total basis of the relationship. Unless there is a longstanding prior relationship, the client is probably completely indifferent to anything more than the parameters of the job.
Now here is the important thing: TOTAL INDIFFERENCE TO YOUR PERSONAL SITUATION DOES NOT MAKE THE CLIENT A BAD PERSON. Set aside all that juvenile bullcrap you were taught about caring and sharing and being special. None of that really applies in your professional world. Now, that’s not to say that this client might not be an incredibly nice, sensitive, caring person who, over the course of your working relationship, might not end up becoming one of your closest personal friends. I’m just saying that caring about your personal situation, being more than professionally courteous, or giving a rat’s ass about any reasons you might have for not delivering completely amazing work is simply not the client’s job. You are a cog in a machine. They have plenty of other things to deal with, and your personal issues are not on their radar. They are indifferent to you, other than what you can contribute to their workflow. Again, this does not make them mean or uncaring. That’s the job. Your job is to deliver work. Period. Theirs is to give you whatever guidance you need to do the job, and then pay you. Period. Hopefully, you both do what you’re supposed to do, and over the years, you continue to work together, forming that solid professional relationship that helps build careers for both of you. And if you become friends, great. And if not, that’s okay too.