With the economy so unstable and a personal down-shift in the number of good-paying projects, I have begun to search for a full-time job, or at least a part-time job to fill in the financial gaps. My preparations for this search has included some deep thinking about my skills, assets, and what it is I really offer a client and how different that is from working in a company. Based upon my discussions with contractors, recruiters, and line managers, I’m finding that the current needs of organizations differ enormously from the work I’ve done for the past twenty years as a freelancer. For me, the shift from “one-stop-shop” web designer and marketing writer to some sort of singular role on a team within an organization that creates web sites is a paradigm shift.
This article is part therapy and part research about what we offer to our clients as freelancers and how that translates back into corporate life. Continue Reading
I read a series of great articles by Jaan Orvet and Andreas Carlson (“Strategy Basics: It’s Really About Having A Plan” and its follow-up, “Strategy Basics: Getting Your Clients Ducks In A Row“) on Carsonified’s Blog called “Think Vitamin” and on the importance of having a sound plan for a successful project. This is basic project management logic, but so often when we start a project the client has not fully developed what they want to do as well as many of the details of how to accomplish it.
For over a year now I’ve been working with a well-known producer/writer/director as his Internet marketing manager on two movies; one in development and the other now in pre-production. It is an interesting experience that has taught me loads about what not to do as a freelancer as well as educated me about finances, the business of freelancing, and how Hollywood really works. It is exciting, exasperating, engaging, frustrating, upsetting, and rewarding. But I have no clue what my job actually encompasses.
I thought I would share the wisdom I’ve acquired along the way.
This is the season of giving, whether it is for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, or just to exchange gifts. So, with so many people here self-employed and thus lacking a company to give out those turkey dinners, terrific bonuses, and whatnot; I thought it would be a great idea to provide a list of real and fantasy gifts that would be perfect for the freelancer in your family, even if it is yourself.
Since the advent of the Internet as a wide-open information conduit there has been a lot of worry amongst legislators, media corporations, and others with a stake in preventing content piracy to create a law that would add teeth to copyright for electronic communications. The long discussions, lobbying, and heated arguments between interested parties were loud and public. The end result was the passing of a complex law called The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA.
Lately, I’ve been exploring various “commodity” freelance job boards where one bids for projects. In perusing a number of sites where only experienced web developers and graphic designers are competing against each other, one thing stands out vividly: every buyer/job source has set their price not only low, but outrageously out in left field low.
Another stark fact is that the relationship between client and designer is flipped: the client dictates a cost and the designer does the work for that price (or lower).
Yet, there are always bidders. Lots of bidders with low-ball ($90 for a Joomla! site done in one week) impossible bids. And I sit scratching my head trying to figure out how this commoditization of a skill set and art form has happened.
There seems to be a basic disconnect between what is needed to earn a living as a freelancer and what clients seem to want (at least on these outsourcing sites) to pay. The disconnect goes even deeper. Suddenly a client can define all aspects of a job from price to design, causing the designer’s role to change from that of a professional to that of a technician. It is unnerving.
Copyright is as old as printing and as new as today. As freelancers, whether writing, designing for print or the Internet, broadcasting, filming, or creating music, you should be aware of your rights of ownership of your work as well as when you actually can’t retain full ownership — the down side of selling your work for a living.
Note: You cannot copyright an idea or name, only an actual creation; and the item does not have to be published to hold a copyright. The minute you create it and even if you don’t mark it with a copyright symbol, it still is fully owned by you.
You know you want to tackle that new standard for CSS you’ve been hearing about. Or, you know that you should understand how overrides enhance Joomla! extensions and templates. You’ve heard the term “MVC” or maybe “SDK” but you have no clue what they mean. Maybe you want to learn a new style of writing so you can build that personal blog. But excuses pile up, for instance: you don’t have the resources, or your current work load doesn’t give you the time, or the best excuse — you lack the brain power. And really, if a client isn’t paying for it how can you legitimize the time?
Yet, to stay current and competitive in our cutthroat freelance environment, you must keep learning the “bleeding edge” of your chosen profession, be it design, web development, programming, or writing, or something else. The challenge is to continually keep learning while working. Otherwise, with the tools of our trades changing so rapidly we can quickly get outmoded. So, how can we at least stay on “speaking terms” with new techniques and technology?
The search engine ranking game is full of pirates and marauders; sort of like the high seas of the 18th century. In order to navigate through these treacherous waters (and protect the good name of links to and from your clients’ and your websites), it pays to understand your enemy.
This article provides a short overview of the downside of search engine optimization as well as offers tricks and tips of how to ensure that your websites legally reach the page rank they deserve so you can attract clients.
What we got here is… failure to communicate.
Firing a client is an emotionally anguishing action, but one that sometimes is the best strategy in a situation where you can’t see eye-to-eye on the scope of a project and its requirements. How you get to this situation is often a confusing mess of poor contract writing on your part, poor communication of requirements on the client’s part, and a muddle of clarifications, expectations, and sometimes a total lack of understanding by the client of underlying technologies and the possibility that you acted without full understanding of their project needs; all of which leads to their disappointment and your frustration.