Monday, January 23, 2012

More thoughts on freelancing

It's been fairly quiet over the Christmas period, workwise. I've spent lots of time in the flat, browsing lots of silly web sites on the web of silliness.

I've been applying for several part-time positions with the notion that maybe a regular gig might help prop up my finances, as well as giving me a much-needed social outlet (and a reason to get up before 9am). It's a delicate balancing act; my current clients like to know that they can contact me anytime and that I can turn something around super-quickly, and I'm aware I might not be able to do that so easily if I'm working a couple of solid days a week. We'll see.. if the right couple-o-days-a-week position comes up, I will probably take it and see how it goes.

I've also experienced my very first dead-beat client recently. Woowee! I am thanking my lucky stars that it's only a small sum that they owe me for (if it was a more significant amount, I would be hiring a hitman). I met with these people a few months ago. They had found me via Gumtree, and seemed like a lovely, if slightly clueless couple who were in the process of starting up a creative business in their spare time and with their own money.

[distant alarm bells]

At our initial meeting we got the niceties out of the way. They talked me through all of their vague and rambley ideas, and I made encouraging noises. They contacted me the following week, saying they wanted to go ahead but could we meet up to talk some more things through?

[more bells]

We meet up again, they ramble some more, ask for some printing contacts, and give me a tiny little starter job which they proceed to micro-manage to death ("we want to use this font, these colours, and it needs to look exactly like this file I mocked up in Powerpoint").


For some reason I agree to a third meeting where the client tells me they want to proceed to the next job, and outline exactly what they want. I say I will put together a quote for their approval, which I do. They agree to let me make a start on the job and I send them some initial designs.

No response.

It's been nearly 2 months. I have emailed, called, and left initially-polite-but-increasingly-pissed-off messages. NOTHING. There have been times when I have called her mobile, only to have her pick up the phone but sit silently on the other end while I fume down the line. Yes, it's only a small amount of cash, but I wasted approximately 4 hours in meetings with these people on the promise of a long-term project and now they're giving me the silent treatment? I'm chasing it up on principle. And rage: my general feeling on this is BRING IT, B*TCHES.

I'm not the timid high school girl I once was.


- Be wary of 'hobby' businesses. Likewise, start-ups. If you do end up working on one, protect yourself by getting a signed contract before you do anything.

- Think about charging clients for time spent in meetings (beyond the initial briefing meeting) - I wasted a lot of time running around to see this client on three separate occasions, only to get stiffed. Charging for that time = less time wasted, as clients have a financial motivation to get their shit together.

- Trustworthy clients are gold. Treat them as such.

- Final lesson: trust your instincts - they're pretty much always right. Those alarm bells are there for a reason.

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