Before I say anything else, I want to make two things clear.
- I am aware this will probably ruffle some feathers.
- I have a number of very good clients on this forum, please know that this is not directed towards any of you. In fact, I have been very lucky with all of the people here and never had to deal with any of the below from members of this forum. This is more of an observation than anything else.
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve read numerous threads dealing with the relationship between someone outsourcing work and the people they hire. WF is not the only place I have been reading these types of threads, but it is the only place I actually post, so I’m going to share my thoughts here.
I work on both sides of this coin. My primary business is as a writer, so most of the time I am the one being hired. That being said, I’m not great at designing websites and making graphics, so I outsource those things for various projects I have.
Two of the biggest problems I’ve noticed being discussed by those who do the hiring are 1) pay, and 2) reliability.
I get the need to keep costs down, the more you pay for services, the more it cuts into your budget. However, for some things you really do get what you pay for. When I hire someone to design my website I want to find the best price I can. But bottom line cost isn’t what you need to be concerned about, value is. If you can get the same quality for cheaper, that's great. But if you can’t, it hurt's your bottom line in the long run. I know, I’ve went the cheapest route before, even though going in I knew the quality was inferior, and I left a lot of money on the table until I rebranded. I am not saying that more expensive is always better, it isn’t. But do your homework before hiring someone.
Which brings me to my next point, if this is the first project you have worked on with someone, they probably understand the need to stay in daily contact with them. Even if you have worked with them on numerous projects, keeping in touch is never a bad thing. What they don’t want, is to have to fill out a daily report. Maybe for the first project that won’t be an issue, after all, you haven’t worked with them before. But after that first project you either need to trust that they’ll get job done, or hire someone else. If you feel the need to monitor their progress, set milestones for the project before you begin work together. When the milestone date arrives and you don’t have what you were supposed to have, then you can start to worry. I don’t speak for all freelancers, but I can speak for myself. And if someone I was working with wanted daily reports on my progress, I may as well go back and work in the corporate world I left. In other words, things would change, or I would finish the project and conveniently be too busy the next time they contacted me with a job. Trust who you hire.
You are your own boss, that’s why you got into this game in the first place. That does not mean that you are your only boss. When you take on a client, you work for them. As I made clear above, nobody wants a boss breathing down their neck, especially a creative. But you need to stay in contact with your clients during a project. If a little while has gone by and you haven’t contacted them, shoot them an email, give an update and let them know what’s going on. This is your reputation, and if you want to get hired again you’ll build a relationship with the client.
At the beginning of any work I take, the first thing I tell a client is when they can expect the work to be to them. For me, that’s normally less than a week, but you can be sure that if I haven’t talked to that person and it’s the day I said I would have the work done, I email them, just to let them know that everything is going fine and we are still on track to for later in the day. Remember, these people paid you good money to provide them with a service, if you would like to continue providing them with that service you need to give them some assurances that not only is your work good, but that you get it done when you say you’ll get it done. And if you’re running behind, tell them. A great way to get a terrible reputation is to know a project is running behind, and just avoid talking to your client.
The other thing I’ve noticed from freelancers is the rampant complaining about pay. Here’s the deal, you set your rates, nobody else does. If someone comes to you with an offer you don’t like, turn them away, but there’s no use in taking the job and then complaining about people not paying well. By taking the job in the first place the only thing you are doing is letting your client know that you’re willing to work for that rate. Pick your business model, pick your clientele, and set your prices accordingly.
The reality of the situation is that you both need each other. Finding a reliable client and finding a reliable freelancer can make life a lot easier for the both of you. When a freelancer and a client come together, you are both hiring each other. If one of you doesn’t like what the other brings to the table, walk away and go your separate ways. But once that relationship has started, both parties need to do what they can to maintain it, it makes life easier for everyone.
And hopefully it will keep some of the clutter out of forums.