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Joeflash’s Enigmacopaedia » Business Tips For Freelancers

Joeflash’s Enigmacopaedia


Business Tips For Freelancers

Posted in Business, Workflow by Joeflash on the March 18th, 2008

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Recently I was asked for some advice from a developer on how to manage her first big client. Here’s what I told her:

  1. Take care of the business side of things before the work is done. Which means:
     
  2. No spec work, no freebies. If they like your portfolio and your references enough to hire you, you should get paid for all the work you do for them.
     
  3. Get something in writing about what your rate is, what you agree to do for them, and how much you charge, per hour or per project. That can mean a contract signed by both parties, or an email which both parties have confirmed.
     
  4. State in your contract/agreement when you expect to get paid, and in what format: 50% up front, the rest upon delivery, or 15, 30 days after? Billable weekly? (for longer projects, if charging an hourly rate) Bi-weekly? By cheque, credit card, interac email transfer? (my favourite)
     
  5. Charge more if the deadline is tight, which means high pressure, possibly requiring you to pull an allnighter or two. And if this is the case, tell them your rate is slightly higher for short deadlines. More stress for you means more money from them. As a rule of thumb.
     
  6. During the work, get their feedback a little more that you think you need to, but not so much that it encourages scope creep. Clients like to be involved in the process, but you need to know when enough communication has been had. Typically a check-in once per week if the project is a few months long, once every day or every few days if it’s got a crunch deadline attached to it.
     
  7. Try to never miss a deadline you’ve committed to.
     
  8. But shit happens. If you commit to a deadline, and you think you can miss it by a margin without breaking the project (or the client), advise the client well ahead of time, communicate. And offer them a discount on the final fee if it keeps them in your good graces. And then make your renegotiated deadline, no ifs ands or buts, or your word will mean nothing from then on.
     
  9. If you placed yourself in a corner, and you absolutely cannot end-of-the-freakin-world miss the deadline, and you don’t think you’ll make it, tough. Don’t sleep. Or you’ll never see that client again, and most likely your fee either. The trick is to never place yourself in that position in the first place.
     
  10. Don’t do it alone. If you encounter a problem, a technical issue you cannot solve, seek support from newsgroups, lists and friends. Because it will save your bacon one day, I guarantee you. But don’t expect a fast reply from lists and groups. And Google is your friend (like, duh.)
     
  11. Create a support group for yourself, composed of mentors, teachers, colleagues, people whom you have enrolled to help you with a quick email or IM now and then to save your bacon spur-of-the moment in a real tough spot.
     
  12. And when they do, thank them. Show gratitude. It’s all about relationships. Send them passes to a movie, or help them out in turn. Nobody likes a taker.
     
  13. Put together a deliverables document to be submitted when you hand over the project, or add these as line-items in your invoice (which should be simple but well-designed), which shows professionalism and attention to detail.
     
  14. If you’re required to put together documentation for the work, make sure you charge for the time it took to research and/or put it together.
     
  15. As a courtesy, only charge for phone calls or meetings if it’s a consultation type meeting, not a project briefing, and it goes longer than 1 hour.
     
  16. Develop lasting long-term relationships with your good clients. Send them a Christmas or Hanukkah card, and a thank you postcard (a real snail mail one!) after a successful project. It’s the little things that get you noticed, that get them to be return customers.

2 Responses to 'Business Tips For Freelancers'

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  1. on March 18th, 2008 at 12:21 pm


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    […] king care of business Speaking of freelancers, Joeflash had a great blog post today titled Business tips for freelancers. Again, not specific to e-learning developme […]

  2. jacob said,

    on March 19th, 2008 at 4:25 am


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