Fear of overcommitting

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overcommitting freelanceDear Dr. Freelance: I have a freelance client that I’ll describe as a “phantom client”—I’d had some challenges with him, but he recently paid me for everything he owed. He’d been a steady source of work, so I was reluctant to just sever the relationship. While I was waiting, I was contacted about another project, but I had a fear of overcommitting: If the phantom client came back, I was going to be stuck without enough time to do either job right. I ended up sending the polished, customized resume and letter very late, and it was pretty much moot since the potential #2 client had already submitted a bid to the end user. How do I strike the balance between getting good projects, ensuring quality, and not driving myself crazy?—Rachel

Rachel, I look at occasionally being “too busy” as part of the reason I’ve succeeded in my freelance business—in fact, I have a chapter titled “Why I Love Emergency Clients” in The Science, Art and Voodoo of Freelance Pricing and Getting Paid[Read more…]

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Referral sales tip: No such thing as a slam dunk

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Any time you get a contact from a referral, it’s an exciting moment, but there’s no such thing as a slam dunk. While a warm lead has much better sales prospects than a cold one, freelance sales leads don’t just sell themselves, and they don’t always work out the way you imagined.

We’ll get to the sales tip in a moment, but first you need the backstory: I’d received a referral for an aspect of the writing business that I don’t even do. (Public relations.) So, my initial part of the conversation was essentially an anti-pitch: “I don’t do that, but I’d be happy to refer you to one of my trusted freelance friends in PR who can help you out.” The prospect was very appreciative, and maybe a bit shocked. And, yeah, I was initially a little disappointed. [Read more…]

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Estimating projects based on vague information

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Dear Dr. Freelance: I saw your recent post about estimating projects, “Hourly rates vs. project pricing,” but how do you figure a bid on something you have just vague information on? I was asked to give a price on proofreading new website copy, knowing only the subject and how many pages there would be — but not how much copy might be on each page or what kind of shape it was in. Even the company that asked for the bid hasn’t seen anything. But they wanted a price. I assume they’re looking elsewhere since I have not heard back from them in response to what I did send, but I want to figure out what I *should* have done! — Susan [Read more…]

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Measuring and promoting freelance client results

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Dear Dr. Freelance: When I’ve had my freelance resume critiqued, the advice I got was that I needed more quantifiable numbers and freelance client results to show the impact of my work. But when I send a press release or brochure copy to a client, I’m often not privy to what happens next, and I’m not sure they’d want to share sales figures with me, especially if they knew I’d be broadcasting it on my resume. Any advice?—Susan Johnston

Dear SJ: You’ve touched on a critical challenge in freelance business practices. Many clients don’t measure their results; some because they don’t think it’s worth the effort, others because they’re fearful of discovering a 0% return on investment (ROI). [Read more…]

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