The twenty-eighth episode of Freelance Radio, the official FreelanceSwitch podcast, is now available! This episode, the panel (John Brougher, Dickie Adams, Kristen Fischer and Von Glitschka) talk about planning in these tough economic times (including budgeting, part-time jobs and more). Subscriptions to the podcast are available via iTunes and an archive of all podcasts will appear in the podcast section. We hope you enjoy it!
Have you ever had a project that turned out to cause way more stress that it was worth? Of course you have. We all have. Most of the time you’re left saying “Why didn’t I see this coming?”
Here are some early warning signs of a problem project and some tips for upgrading them from hopeless to profitable.
1. “I tried doing it myself, but…”
This is a sign of the frustrated artist. They fancy themselves creative, and have given it their best shot, but found that their skills fell short. Now they are turning to you, the consummate professional, to pick up the pieces.
Photo by Endlisnis.
Recently a client of mine tried to low-ball me. She knew our standard rate for the project in mind, but asked if I would consider going lower–of course, just this once.
And I’m sure I’m not the only freelancer that this has happened to. After all, our global economy isn’t so hot. Some people are trying to get something for nothing, while others are honestly having a tough time. As a freelancer trying to keep business afloat, where does that leave you? Is there a way to deal with a prospect or an existing client who wants a discount, or an unreasonably low price? Is it better to do a one-time job on the cheap rather than “spoil” an existing client relationship?
Here are some points to keep in mind when a client asks if you can “go a little lower.” Hopefully they’ll help you assess whether or not you want to reduce your rates, and if so, what the future ramifications of that could be.
Photo by Mastronardi.
Recently, I’ve been getting a lot of emails from potential clients who haven’t actually ever worked with a freelancer before. There’s been a few unfortunate assumptions on both sides, and I know that I’ve lost a deal or two because a client didn’t know what to expect from a freelancer.
I keep thinking about one client in particular. I completed what was supposed to be the first part of a series of assignments and sent in my work — along with a standard invoice. In return, I received an angry email asking why I would ever demand payment in such a fashion and why I would put a specific due date on when I expected my payment. I got my money — but I lost the client.
Part of the problem is that there are a lot of companies used to completing work in house (or with another small business in their area) that are turning to freelancers as a source of cheap help. These companies are trying to cut expenses by working with a class of contractors they may never have thought about before. While that extra work can be welcome, the issue of educating clients comes right along with it. There are many options for providing your prospective clients with the information they need to work well with you.
Today I’m very excited to announce that we’re taking the lid off our newest Envato Marketplace: GraphicRiver, a marketplace for premium design components like Layered Photoshop Graphics, Vector Illustrations, Icons, and Adobe Add-ons like Brushes, Patterns and Textures at very affordable prices. You could almost say it’s like having a graphic art department at your fingertips!
Recently I watched a funny, quirky Japanese film called Kamikaze Girls. The movie centered on the theme that it takes courage to be happy. With so many responsibilities and demands on our time, we can often find ourselves missing the whole point of life – enjoying it.
Leo Babauta’s recently published book ‘The Power of Less’ gets to the heart of why “task and information overload” are causing us so much stress. Better yet, he tells us what to do about it.
Why do I need to read this book?
I will be the first to say that I am not a fan of self-help books. Your typical self-help book is nothing more than a medium to spoon out generalized advice on the latest empowerment craze. So when I started reading ‘The Power of Less’ I had a strong preconceived notion that I was not going to find much help in it. Couple that with the fact that I thought I was living a simple life already, and you have a recipe for a bad book review.
The fact that I really enjoyed the book speaks volumes about Leo Babauta as a writer. Leo never comes across as a talking-head that dispenses tips he picked up from Doctor Phil. His advice is always based on things that have worked in his own life. He even takes a simplified approach to his writing and keeps things straight forward and in plain English. This may be the first self-help book I actually liked.
I recently saw a question posted from a new author who said that he feels that marketing oneself is “rude and presumptuous.” Is it? Or is it a necessary task to succeed as a creative freelancer?
I understand that so many creative people feel timid or rude for promoting themselves. But let me tell you the truth: If you want to be in business and make your creative talents profitable, marketing is a must. Some creatives I know are just making things for the sake of creation, so marketing isn’t necessary. But in this case—trying to sell a book—marketing is vital.
I know because I’ve done it. I’ve published two books, Creatively Self-Employed: How Writers and Artists Deal with Ups and Downs and Ramen Noodles, Rent and Resumes: An After-College Guide to Life. The first book was self-published, so I had to do all the PR. Lucky for me, I have a background in journalism, so I at least knew how to craft press releases.
Establishing a brand when you’re a freelancer is a great idea. You create an image about who you are, what you stand for and what you promise to customers. A brand provides consumers with an image and a set of emotional and mental associations that represent you – and that’s what you sell.
Your brand influences people and their decision to work with you based on their perceptions of your image. They may need a page of sales copy, but they’ll want to work with you because you convey a brand image as being the superhero of sales copy, able to vanquish any argument and rise to glorious conversion victory! Or, perhaps your brand image conveys sharp corporate savvy, the ability to hone in and target sales like an archer hitting the bulls-eye every time.
No brand? All you sell is a commodity, just words on paper. Pretty worthless, if you ask me.
During my first year of freelancing, I relied on one client for my bread and butter. When that client gave me a week’s notice that they no longer needed my services, I felt like I was up a certain creek. Over the years, I’ve had the problems with relying on just one or two clients hammered in. If there’s even a minimal problem with the one client taking up all of a freelancer’s time, that freelancer might not be making rent next month.
But there are ways to move from relying on one or two clients — just like there are ways to move from a full-time job — that can wind up making your freelance business more successful in the long run.
Nearly five years ago, I said goodbye to the day job and hello to the work at home lifestyle. I’ve never regretted it. I don’t miss commuting, office politics, kowtowing to the boss or the lack of control over my time.
However, there are some things about office life that are worth keeping. A sense of structure, interaction with other people and a feeling of security are a few perks of the day job that many freelancers feel like they’ve lost. Here’s how you can have the best of both worlds.
Clients can sometimes be nervous or hesitant about purchasing freelance services. Most of the time, freelancers (whether they are writers, designers, or something else entirely) won’t have a tangible product to sell, so it’s difficult to show clients what they’re paying for up front. This can provoke a lot of remarks from clients such as, “You design the logo for me and if I like it, I’ll pay for it,” or “Can I tell you if we plan to purchase the press release you write after we see it?”
I’ve found that to make clients feel more secure about purchasing services and to avoid spec work requests, a well put-together portfolio is key. People like to interact with portfolio pieces and feel the paper, see how an item folds, etc. If freelancers can use more than one of the five senses to show work to clients, it becomes a little more interactive, engaging and interesting.