For one reason or another, a lot of freelancers use Macs. It may be the raw power, the stability or they may just look rather – cool? Well, both of us know why that really is. It’s the apps! The software that makes the hardware bling, and it’s not necessarily thanks to Apple. Aperture and iCal may be nice, but often we rely on the smaller, even more useful applications. Here’s a list of great little applications that the Mac-powered freelancer should consider.
is a great little application for all those little snippets of text you need all the time. Writer? Typos can trigger Text Expande. Developers? No more code library needed. Designers? Well, we can always add signatures to email, right?
is a world of its own. Unlike most launchers, the best thing about Quicksilver is that it’s not only a launcher. As probably the best productivity application on the Mac, it’s something you need to learn how to use in order to master it.
is very simple. Just fill in a color or image and hide the desktop clutter. Need minimalistic? Now you have it…
4. Shoo Apps
does what the long forgotten (or so it seems) Spirited Away did. it hides inactive applications.
is a maid for your Mac. Have a lot of files just sitting waiting to be organized? Well, Hazel can move those files based on the criteria you set up. Be it name, date, location or what site or e-mail the file came from, this little application takes care of it.
is an application I personally can’t live without anymore. Say hello to tabs. Drag a window to the top, left or right edge of the screen and a tab will appear. To remove a tab, you just drag it away. It’s that simple.
is quite neat. It creates custom nap and sleep melodies for you to help you relax. Need a power nap – take one. It really may help, or it may just work as placebo. But hey, why not try it?
is a great tool for writers. From brainstorming, to outlining to writing in fullscreen mode, this application supports all the creative phases that a writer encounters. Say goodbye to Word and just… Write!
is a simple, yet very powerful application and full screen writing is the name of the game. Not more, but less. If the complexity of modern word processors isn’t inspiring, work it all out with Writeroom.
is a writing application specialized for fiction. Characters, locations, scenes. If you’re a fiction writer, Avenir will give you even more flexibility in writing your next bestseller.
When you work in a creative field, certain assumptions are made about you. It’s assumed that you listen to bands that no one has ever heard of (guilty), people are predisposed to believe that you’ll eat strange foods (uh oh), and you’re generally expected to look and behave like an “artiste” – dressing like you’re from the future, not paying attention to schedules, being unresponsive to e-mails – that sort of thing. The image of the turn-of-the-last-century Parisian impressionist – complete with beret – is not wholly invalid here. I’ve seen it happen.
It didn’t take me long to learn that even the slightest professional behavior – wearing an ironed shirt, preparing detailed outlines – even speaking clearly on the phone – has earned me points with clients. These things aren’t exactly huge efforts – in fact, I once believed they were necessary to running a business – but apparently, not so.
I proudly finished up the manuscript for my second book this week. Of course to do it, I need a few days off. So I asked my beloved employers for some time away, and was met with resistance.
Let me start off my saying that there were no deadlines or commitments involved that I asked to have pushed back…just rotating projects I had my pick of taking, and appointments to set. So when I got emails asking me to “just do this one” when it came to projects, and to “just squeeze me in” when it came to setting consultation appointments, I was shocked.
Do my clients think I’m a pushover? Is that why they wouldn’t let me take a break when I needed it?
I have to say, I think I forged their behavior. I’m always the one picking up a last-minute assignment and tending to clients’ every wish when it comes to work. Naturally when I put up some resistance, they did, too. This isn’t the Kristen I know, they must have said.
But they learned to deal. Assignments got done and client calls got scheduled. Maybe not when my customers wanted it all done, but all that matters is that it got completed.
Have you encountered this? Here are some tips to help you set boundaries with clients so it’s not a bombshell the next time you need off when something comes up.
By Brett Derricott. Brett is the founder and CEO of Agency Fusion, a web development company built especially for agencies and designers. Brett blogs about technology as it relates to design and advertising at agencybyte.com.
They say that all is fair in love and war. I’m confident there are also some who would add that all is fair in business too. Defining what is “ethical” in business is difficult at best, especially such that everyone else will agree, but creating a code of ethics to define what you will and will not do in the name of business is a more manageable task.
Establishing your own code of ethics and adhering to it strictly has at least 5 benefits.
1. Customers Will Respect You
If you plan on being a freelancer for the long haul, establishing long-term relationships with key customers is critical to your success and happiness. Fostering these relationships requires that you make decisions with a long-term perspective rather than a project-specific or short-run perspective.
Being honest and upfront with your customers is an absolute requirement in establishing these types of relationships. There are at least three common subjects that are easier to avoid than to discuss upfront:
Client relations aren’t easy, just as personal relationships can be challenging. But are they that different? When looked at closely they actually seem pretty similar:
The Good: You’re best buds, you’re both pretty sure you can talk about anything, tell each other everything. Problems are there to be talked about, so that’s what you do, usually over a beer. You seal deals with a handshake, since friends don’t need any contracts, quotes, or other written documents.
The Bad: Money is a weird issue for you. It feels uncomfortable to charge a friend, right? So you avoid it, postpone charging till the last possible opportunity, and even then it doesn’t feel right. Smaller jobs are not worth charging for anyway, so you do some of the work as a favour for them, because that’s what friends do. Over time the work adds up, and you realise that you really could have used the money you haven’t charged but are afraid to bring it up – because that might lead to:
The Ugly: After you realise you have money problems, you want to talk about it, but your friend points out the obvious: You are friends and friends don’t charge each other money. Plus, you don’t have anything signed to prove it. You charge him anyway, since you need the money. Things get messy, and you have to go to court. You go separate ways afterwards and never call each other again.
Many of us tend to keep our clients at an arms length; they tell us what to do, we do it, they give us monies, everyone is happy.
Personally, though, I’ve had more success and enjoy my work a lot more by moving beyond the “strictly business relationship.”
Getting to know clients on somewhat of a more personal level helps them see you as more than a voice on the phone that makes articles, graphics, websites, etc appear and can make repeat business more likely, or it could increase the likelihood that they’ll be more willing to help you in other ways later.
As an example, a few months back, an editor asked me to drop by his office to pick up some documents he wanted me to use for an article. While there, we start talking about politics and before I know it, we’re looking for an angle on the issue we’re discussing for his publication and I walk out with a second assignment I wouldn’t have gotten had we stuck to business.
It could often involve just an extra 10 minutes of small talk, but that 10 minutes can go a long way to getting referrals and repeat business.
Get to know them
You can learn a surprising amount people with that extra few minutes of small talk, but you can also get to know clients simply by doing a bit of homework. As a writer, I always study a client’s publication – what kind of articles do they editors write themselves? What positions do they take in their editorials? With other industries, it can simply be a matter of checking their website or blog if they have one. There you can learn about their hobbies, sense of humour and political inclinations, all of which can be great fodder for discussion at meetings.
It was just the other day when I submitted a writing assignment. After saving my final draft and sending it off to my boss, I took a deep breath. It was another success for a regular gig, and I had managed to get it done before deadline—as always.
But just when I thought everything was fine, a return email from my boss with a replied subject line appeared in my inbox. Expecting him to confirm he received the project, I unknowingly opened up the email to find a statement that set me off. After telling me there was an error in the title, he wrote, “Come on!”
Now, I know what “Come on!” feels like when you’re being cheered on or motivated. This was not that kind of two-word phrase. It was a snap. A sarcastic brush off that shocked me. First, I had made a mistake, which is always frustrating to cope with because I want every client to be satisfied with my work. But more so, it was how my boss said it that upset me most. It was like he was spitting out nasty comments to someone who didn’t matter, and he could say it because we weren’t face to face.
Who does he think he is, I asked myself. What’s so hard about saying, “There’s an error on the title. Please fix it and return.”
Here at FreelanceSwitch, we love to talk about clients and on occasion some of their failings and characteristics, but let’s face it, most freelancers aren’t that perfect themselves. So today we’ve put together 13 Breeds of Freelancer, see if you recognize a bit of yourself in there…
Freelancer Breed #1
The Artiste Freelancer
Is This You?
You are a master of what you do, or at least you think so. Criticism from a client is often met with disbelief or anger and if a client asks for a small change you lament that the whole project is ‘ruined’.
Fulfilling your clients needs isn’t as nearly as important as making it ‘really cool’ and when you talk about your clients, somehow phrases like ‘stifling my creativity’, ‘pleb’, and ‘uneducated buffoon’ keep popping up.
If you’re fiery enough many clients will become too scared to critique you leading to very few revisions. Even if they do ask you for revisions you can always make up reasons why you don’t need to listen anyway. Your portfolio looks exactly the way you want it to.
Your adverse reactions to various client requests mean that often your clients don’t actually get the work they wanted. Plus thanks to your high maintenance you are beginning to develop a reputation – unfortunately it’s probably not the one you were after. If you push them far enough, your clients may refuse to pay you. And because you are unwilling to accept that you may be wrong on things you miss out on opportunities to improve your work.
All of this pales however compared to those horrible situations when after you have finally succumbed to your client’s wishes, the project actually turns out better than it would have if you were left to your own devices!
Picking Up Your Game:
Being an Artiste doesn’t usually mix well with the business of freelancing since most clients want the project to fulfil their needs not yours. When you put a lot of yourself into your work, it’s hard to separate criticism for the work and criticism of you. Unfortunately this is the day-to-day reality of freelancing and you need to grow a thick skin to protect your fragile ego. Try not to expect a first draft or concept to be greeted with congratulations and you won’t feel quite so devastated when you need to revise.
What often works is to think of client requests and revisions as constraints in an elaborate game that you are trying to conquer. Look at them in a positive light and do your best work within those constraints and your clients will be happier, your work will often wind up better and you’ll be a more successful freelancer.
Freelancer Breed #2
The Payin’-The- Bills Freelancer
Is This You?
Although there was a time when you loved what you do, recently it feels like nothing more than a way to support yourself. You don’t really feel any interest in improving your skills and ‘passionate’ or ‘committed’ aren’t adjectives your clients would use to describe you.
This post has been translated into Spanish by Diana at Artegami.
When you work a design job you will at some point have to present a concept or a sample of the design to the client for their consideration. At various places that I have worked and as a freelancer I have presented anywhere from 1 to 5 concepts at a time. The reasoning behind the different numbers seems to go like this:
We’re the experts, we know what is best. Don’t confuse the client.
The client needs choice. It is their project so they need some level of control.
The client should be getting value for their money.
In the end I settled on three concepts for most jobs but somehow always felt like I was making up extra rubbish to add in when the ‘real’ concept was the first one. So my question is how many concepts do you provide? And do you see any benefits or drawbacks to it? Answer in the poll and/or leave a comment…
Although finding leads to new clients is perhaps the most critical part of getting work, there is another crucial phase – winning them over. Sometimes this takes the form of a simple email conversation, sometimes it is a get-to-know-you over coffee. But for those really important clients and larger jobs, you often have to pitch. Recently American sales performance company Miller Heiman have shown there may be a gap between how we pitch and how our clients actually make their decisions. Though Heiman’s research was written for sales organizations, the results are just as pertinent for freelancers pitching their ideas and plans…
According to Miller Heiman co-founder Bob Miller, there are in fact five distinct decision making styles found amongst executives:
This article has been translated into Spanish by Diana at Artegami.
One way to forge great relationships with your clients is to get in the habit of keeping your phone with you at all times and checking your emails as often as possible. Clients working office hours expect to be able to get a hold of you and will want a prompt response. One of the by-products of good relationships with clients is that they rely on you. Unfortunately that means that if you don’t get back to them promptly that relationship could be jeopardized.
Sleeping in until midday or catching that afternoon movie can become complicated if your aim is to keep similar hours as your clients. Really the only reason not to be available as far as a client is concerned is if you’re in a meeting. Part of the fun of being a freelancer is having flexibility and being your own boss, so you need to balance that with keeping your clients happy.
From experience I decided that if I missed a call for whatever reason I should call the client right back, even if it is just to give them a time I’d be able to talk in depth. It’s good manners and my clients knew I was eager to take their call. The last thing you want is for your client to feel they need to track you down or harass you in order to get in touch.
This article has been translated into Spanish by Diana at Artegami. Thanks Diana!
You’d be surprised to hear how often clients tell me they went with us not because of the quality of our work, but because we ‘spoke their language’. So many times I’ve heard them say ‘the other designers were intimidating’ or ‘we didn’t understand what they were talking about’. Or even worse; ‘they didn’t seem interested in our business’.
Most freelancers are so busy trying to prove to potential clients how creative they are that they ignore their clients needs in the most basic sense. Save your creative talk for people in your industry. Talk to potential clients about what you can do for their business. Discuss how you will help them: