Friday, November 26, 2021

Do You Know Where You're Going ...?

Many of us take on big or tedious jobs - even or problematic clients - and somewhere along the way, we may ask ourselves 'What the hell was I thinking about when I decided to join this project?' After the turkey (or substitute) has turned into leftovers, you may want to ask yourself what you learned from each job.  Even better, ask what you gained outside of paying a few bills.

Getting a steady stream of clients is becoming a true art form and for those without a pencil to create a basic sketch, the terrain can get dangerous.  In other words, taking a chance in the predatory waters of freelancing can be a true compromise of sanity.  However, the trick is to not let strangers see you sweat.  Seriously.

Working Hard (and Unsmart?) 

Right now, someone I know is doing a project free of charge as a favor to a neighbor.  The task is something they haven't done in a while and technology has changed a great deal since they were active in this line of work.  While there's no time for them to play catch up, the project has gone from a labor of love to a source of stress.

When I asked about the details (because this person suffers from clinical depression and has a history of seasonal affective disorder, or SAD), their response waivered from getting a rush from doing research to just wanting to do the best job possible.  While both are good reasons to continue, spending unexpected long periods of time on a project can compromise mental health.  In this instance, there's nothing wrong with setting milestones to allow for a work-life balance.

Choosing Boundaries (and Sticking to Them)

Like the above video states, you are in control...more than you think.  Back in the days of oDesk, I had a nice rating as a freelancer but I made one mistake that gave me an instant headache.  That was making my profile listing available to the public instead of just users. For two days, my personal cell phone rang seemingly non-stop, with callers who either wanted me to drop what I was doing to service them or listen to their personal problems.

As a woman, society says I'm supposed to have boundaries when it comes to suitors.  Never give out your number first, always order (and watch) your own drink, etc., etc.  My issue is that my laid-back L.A. vibe doesn't always work well in the world of business either.

Defining Goals Early

Doesn't it suck when you've done what you're supposed to on a job but it's the client that's wishy-washy?  While you don't have to put everything in a formal contract or agreement, it helps to communicate your expectations before closing the deal.  If something feels off, address it right away because predatory clients will take advantage of gray areas.  When people know you have standards and stick to them, they will either respect you or take their business to a desperate freelancer willing to work for pennies.

I once had a client ask me a ton of questions about a topic they needed for a lengthy copywriting project.  Because it was a matter that hit very close to home, I had no problem being a subject-matter expert (SME).  The next thing I knew the conversation was getting into an hour and there was no deal on the table.  While I was able to lock something in within the next half hour, they would use my disposition against me less than 24 hours later.  Not only did they find a subjective reason to reject my work but tried to give me a guilt complex when I dropped the project without warning.  For the next couple of days, I ignored their rude comments and realized being a sucker was costly.

Lesson: Be cordial at the very least but have an imaginary timer going in your head.  Normally, 15 minutes is a safe maximum but sometimes it may take another 10-15 minutes to get a feel for the client and their project.  As much as I hate to use this example, just don't be that "available" girl because she never gets the respect she deserves.

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