More and more people are turning to freelancing as both a career and as a resource. For business owners, freelancers can be an amazing piece of machinery. We all know that freelancers are great, because we don’t have to pay employee-related taxes or provide consistent work. We can literally ignore them during dry spells and then call upon them when we need something. So how do you keep yourself from being gauged when you do come back around with a pressing project?
First, let me explain that I have been on both sides of this fence for a very long time. As the founder of a content generation firm, I have built my business on job boards as a freelancer. I have also used a multitude of freelancers for everything from graphic design to delivering my groceries. And I can say that the following tips help across the board.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T (find out what it means to me)
Would you ever walk into a department store, grab an item, take it to the counter, and haggle over the price? Unless the object is broken or there was some confusion over a discount, the chances are very low. Most people respect that the prices given at a department store are the prices you pay at the counter.
The same is true in freelancing. When you contact a freelancer and they provide a bid, the last thing you want to do is haggle over price. This translates as “I don’t respect what you do, but I still don’t want to do it myself.” Only in the situation that you think the original project description was inaccurate should you go back for a different price.
Show Don’t Tell
The biggest mistake I see on job boards are people who promise consistent work or a bulk order down the road. This is a major red flag to anyone who does freelancing. Unfortunately we have all dealt with the client who leveraged this tactic for a lower rate and then never followed through. A few bad apples ruin it for everyone.
I suggest that you describe the initial project in detail, and leave any further projects to be discussed later. That way, you have the best freelancers bidding on your project. After the initial project is completed, and you have been impressed, you can then talk about consistent work.The best time to ask for a discount is after you have already paid something to the freelancer.
This also prevents you from being stuck feeling like you have to give consistent work to someone who didn’t perform well.
Where’s the Beef?
Keep in mind that the work itself is only one part of the equation. Can you trust your freelancer to hit deadlines? Do they come up with excuses? Do they only email you in the middle of the night? Can they handle more work? How do they bill? Do they have consistent rates? Are they friendly in communicating, or are they snippy? Which of these items matter to you?
Some people are freelancers because they love being their own boss. Some people are freelancers because they can’t hold a job.
Never feel bad about ending a project early because the freelancer hasn’t performed. Always pay them for work they have done and simply explain why the business relationship is ending. Cutting your losses is always cheaper than holding out for bad performance.
On the flipside, be sure to note what impresses you during a project. A compliment or small bonus can go a long way in discounts for the future. Professional freelancers will increase their rates with experience, just like any other employee. The more gracious you are as a client, the more likely they will keep you at your original rate.
Freelancing is an amazing way to run a business and to run your life, and I enjoy being on both sides of this fence. I hope these tips and insights help you on your journey. What insights do you have about freelancing? Please write them in the comments below.