Rules for Working with Freelance Clients
I want to be like The Transporter when it comes to client negotiations. Jason Statham is The Transporter, an action guy who transports ‘things’ for people. In the original movie, the first of three, he is transporting a woman…and it gets complicated. I admit to watching the occasional action movie, especially if one of my sons is around, And this guy isn’t so bad to look at either.
What does this have to do with freelance writing you ask? Is she going to start a pickup and delivery service to supplement her income? Well, that’s a thought. Actually it’s all about clarity and self-worth and dealing with clients. I watched this guy, I’m not sure he has a name other than The Transporter, negotiate with a client. And, what I saw was exactly how I want to deal with clients from now on.
The prospective client began to talk about the job, referring to his ‘package’. It was vague, a waving of the hands to indicate size. Delivery date and time were stated and that was about it. The Transporter listened, making a few notes on a scrap of paper. And, then he asked questions, honing in on specifics. He didn’t write it down, and that’s where we vary. I want it in writing. But, he got the information and then he restated the job specs back to the client. Very specific. He indicated the exact delivery time, what he did and did not do and then asked for half of the payment right then and there.
It can take a new freelancer time to learn how to bid on a project and how to handle the client negotiations and project brief. I’ve had one project that didn’t go well and if I’d followed these lessons it would have turned out differently. I know what happened and why I did something wrong- I wasn’t sure enough of my skills and abilities to state clearly my concerns. I also underestimated the job, didn’t ask for a deposit ( we were working through Elance and the money was in escrow, but…). He wasn’t happy with my initial work, but wouldn’t get more specific about what he wanted. I sweated that job, working harder than I should have and worried about getting paid. He paid promptly and the job was completed on time. But, I learned a valuable lesson.
- I underbid the job out of inexperience.
- When the client was vague I should have asked questions and pushed him to clarify. I did send a summary of the project as I saw it, his response indicated that he hadn’t really bothered to read it.
- I bid on a job that turned out, in part, to be beyond my expertise. That might have been ok if the client had given me a template of what he envisioned, instead of making assumptions.
- To my credit, the guy was basically unavailable or too busy to communicate much. I should have pushed the issue or halted work until he’d given me specific direction. Or I should have stated, point by point, exactly what I was going to do.
Everything worked out fine. I would work with this client again though I’d do things differently this time. Everything in life is a learning experience and even the most seasoned freelance writer runs up against challenging clients. It’s a matter of knowing your worth as a freelancer and being able to stand firm.
Have you had a similar experience?