by Joe Wallace
When I’m not working with my freelance clients I also write about and sell vinyl, especially genre film soundtracks from the 60s and 70s.
Because of these obsessions, I find myself doing conventions about six times a year, where many well-known names set up to sign autographs and discuss the movies they’ve made. At a recent show, I met Malcolm McDowell, star of Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange and many other well-known titles. While we were chatting about his more obscure output, I quizzed him about an 80s comedy called Get Crazy.
Not a typical part for McDowell. He was offered it, and told me while he read the script on a beach somewhere, he couldn’t find a single funny line–he hated the whole idea of doing the film. His character was a has-been rock star named Reggie Wanker. The character had to sing and perform wearing a huge white codpiece and have nutty backstage escapades.
So he mulled it over, and decided in the end to accept the part–why say no and alienate a director or producer? But McDowell still didn’t want to do the film, so he asked for a fee he was sure would never get approved.
Sure enough, the producers took one look at his fee and decided to go with someone else. Continue reading What You Can Learn About Freelancing From Malcolm McDowell
Amanda Smyth Connor
It’s always exhilarating to take on a new client. I personally enjoy taking on clients who specifically want to focus on site copy. It gives me great joy to be the voice of a company. To create the tone, the style and the narrative for a website feels powerful. I feel like the company’s success is somehow riding in my hands and flowing through my pen. But the mistake many freelancers make is in not learning to write in the client’s voice.
You can’t just describe the company. You can’t just talk about the company or your client. You have to become your client. Think how they think. Speak how they speak and represent the company as though you had worked there all of your life.
Nailing down the tone, style and narrative of a company’s voice is really tough. I’ve seen companies plow through a dozen freelancers in an effort to find just one who could carry the perfect tone and style that the client demanded.
I managed one project for client “Anonymous-Huge-Nationwide-Chain” whose list of writing style guidelines was like nothing I’ve seen before. Continue reading Know Your Client – Become Your Client
It’s a fact of life in freelancing. Eventually you’re going to be stuck with people with habit and business practices which are annoying at best, completely infuriating at their worst. What to do? Here are my top five strategies–things I use whenever dealing with these people and their clueless behavior:
5. Risk Management. If I can spot them coming before I am entangled with them, I try to avoid ’em completely. Sometimes you can’t, so I make sure I define my terms and conditions to the letter in order to head off the endless revisions or pointlessly long conference calls ahead of the game.
4. Get Paid According to the Level of Hassle. Part of defining terms ahead of time for me is getting paid more money for being subjected to a client’s boorish behavior. Those endless conference calls? I bill them. Those additional rewrites for no real reason? Ditto. People get pain and suffering compensation in lawsuits, why shouldn’t you get the same kind of compensation for dealing with a jackass client?
3. Keep Records. A jackass client will turn on you suddenly and demand extra services or other hassles based on what they claim is non-delivery or delivery that fails to live up to the agreement. Don’t be taken by surprise by this, no matter how nice they’re acting lately the potential is ALWAYS there. Get everything in writing even if that’s just you keeping careful notes for yourself.
2. Time Management. Don’t let your crappy clients steal time away from your GOOD clients. I would rather ask for an extension on a deadline from a crap client than a good one any day of the week. Pick your battles well.
1. Give As Good As You Get. The client that takes a full week to get back with you shouldn’t expect you to jump the second the e-mail hits your inbox. I try to “train” my clients to expect the same level of response and attention they give to me. Some get the hint, others don’t. My time is valuable–it’s worth a lot of money–and I try to convey that wherever possible.
One way I do this is by subtly reminding the clients that I work for other people, too. It’s easy to assume a freelancer is at your disposal. I never let that impression happen–I am always talking about other activities in a vague way. “Oh, sorry–I’m not available at 2PM, I’ve already got a meeting scheduled with one of my other clients.”
An interesting article at FreelanceFolder by Laura Spencer got me thinking about how to avoid getting stuck with what Spencer calls a “vampire client”. Spencer’s advice was sound, but how do you avoid getting to the stage where you need to take her advice at all?
What the article defines as a vampire client is someone who keeps demanding revisions and is seemingly unable to be pleased–and all that after demanding a reduction in your usual fee. Sounds unreasonable to us!
The first thing you can do to protect yourself from an unreasonable client is to build in some parameters into your work agreement. What’s that? You don’t have a work agreement with your clients? Change that immediately.
In your agreement, build in a standard fee (which you can change to offer discounts for your valuable clients). Don’t accept less than your standard fee without a good reason, but when you do, be sure you add some additional consideration for yourself into the deal. That consideration could come as a more forgiving (and convenient for you) deadline or other concessions. Continue reading How to Deal With Unreasonable Freelance Clients