Tag Archives: referrals

Why Every Freelance Writer Needs a Graphic Design Partner

I’ve always believed that every freelance writer needs a graphic design partner — or better yet, a few of them that specialize in print, digital, and different industries. Today was Exhibit A: I was enjoying lunch on a restaurant patio with a former co-worker from my in-house custom publishing days when my phone buzzed in my pocket. I ignored it. It buzzed again a few minutes later, and I pulled it out and took a surreptitious glance at who was calling.

It was one of my top-tier clients. As soon as my friend and I shook hands and parted ways, I dialed up voicemail, and the panic in my client’s voice was clear: Her graphic designer bailed on her at the last minute, leaving her with an unfinished newsletter that absolutely, positively needed to get printed before she hopped on a plane for a trip. Eight pages, 12-hour turnaround.

Did I know any Adobe InDesign freelance whizzes who could help her out in an emergency?

Luckily, there were a few specific candidates that came to mind, and I called her and said I’d do what I could. My first local possibility was already swamped, but I pitched her on the basis that: 1) The client is super easy to work with, 2) it’s a fast-growing company and would likely lead to additional, high-paying jobs, and 3) if she heard the detailed specs and didn’t think she could do it, no harm done.

Honestly, though, I knew she was going to pull it off…because she always does. In short, my tight relationship with an exceptional graphic designer accomplished two key things:

  • Instant hot referral to a lucrative freelance contact going forward.
  • Made me look like a hero to an important client.

It only took one quick phone call, but the reality is that the relationship has been more than a decade in the making—reliability, trust, and responsiveness don’t get built overnight. If you don’t already have go-to people in complimentary freelance disciplines…what are you waiting for?

In the comments: Writers, has a graphic designer ever bailed you out? Graphic designers, has a freelance writer ever improved an important client relationship?

Jake Poinier blogs regularly as Dr. Freelance and runs a Phoenix-based editorial services firm, Boomvang Creative Group.

Dealing with Ridiculous Client Expectations

By Jake Poinier

Earlier this week, I received a freelance referral from a previous client for a web project — and an object lesson in dealing with ridiculous client expectations.

Nice guy, we got along swimmingly. We went through the sitemap for the new, improved website, I asked my usual rotation of questions, and it seemed like a good match of their needs and my background.

Then, about a half-hour into the conversation, he mentioned that my referral contact had thought the price would be around $1000.

I must have raised my eyebrows halfway up my forehead, because he quickly backpedaled and said something to the effect of, “Now, keep in mind, he had just thrown a number out. I’m a numbers guy, and just wanted to let you know my expectations.”

I resisted the urge to run screaming from the room, knowing there was no way $1000 was going to be even close for a 20-odd page site. We wrapped up the meeting in businesslike fashion and shook hands. I told him I’d crunch the numbers and have an estimate for him the following day.

When I crunched those numbers, they indicated a cost of around triple what he was expecting. I sent the bid anyway, with a mention that I realized the estimate was far higher than he was anticipating. Perhaps not surprisingly, my phone has not rung. But you know, I’m OK with that.

Besides the need to reject lowball freelance work, there’s another lesson in here: You should never, ever try to estimate the cost of someone else’s services. My previous client, in an effort to be helpful, had established a mark that would be impossible to hit, even if my rate was half of what it is. The best course of action is always to let your fellow creatives do their own math — or things aren’t likely to add up.

Jake Poinier busted out of his corporate chains to become a freelance writer and editor in 1999. He runs Boomvang Creative Group and blogs regularly as Dr. Freelance.