You know the feeling when you estimate projects for new clients: You run the numbers, and then run them again and maybe once or twice more. And yet your cursor still hovers over the “send” button on the email. I’ve been at the freelance game long enough to know there aren’t many constants, but estimate anxiety is surely one of them. When your mousing finger freezes up, it’s time for a reality check: “What’s the worst that could happen?” [Read more…]
Word-of-mouth business is the closest thing we’ve got to perpetual motion in the freelance world. Not only are freelance referrals easier to get to sign on the dotted line—because your business has a third-party endorsement—they’re also far more likely to be easy to work with. With rare exceptions, a good client won’t send you a bad client. First, because a good client wants you to succeed. Second, because their own reputation is on the line. (Obligatory note of caution: Be wary of word-of-mouth business from not-so-hot clients, who have a penchant for passing along their equally challenging pals.) [Read more…]
A reader asks…Dr. Freelance: Yesterday I had an extended (almost 2-hour) meeting with a potential new client. The good news is that they have a project for me, assuming the estimate is acceptable, and they said there would be more in the future. The bad news is that the project is small enough that I can’t possibly recoup the costs for my time, because it would basically double the estimate. I know you believe you should charge for meetings, but how do I do that in this circumstance? I don’t want to price myself out of a freelance job!—Time Is Money (i.e., you can call me “Tim”) [Read more…]
I reckon we’re about 10 minutes into the 15-minute fame run of the Yanny vs. Laurel dust-up. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you can give it a whirl here.) I was firmly in the Yanny camp until late in the day yesterday, when I watched a video that explained the effect—after which I only heard “Laurel,” and couldn’t switch back. Weird how the brain works! In any case, I think the Yanny vs. Laurel divide offers a nifty jumping-off point to discuss client communications and the importance of perception in business.
What does your ideal freelance client look like? Great (and fast) payer…high-profile (and rewarding) projects…lots of positive feedback…sends plenty of referrals…prompt, responsive, and easy to work with? I agree. Over the course of 18 years of running my own business, though, I’ve found it comes down to this: Do your clients want you to succeed as a freelancer? And do you want them to succeed, too?
“Freelancers who undercharge are ruining the business!” “Freelancers who work for free are undermining my prices!”