Why does it cost so much? How does it take so long? Why can't I just do it myself?
Today I had a great meeting with Rachel from Happiness Concierge, who is talking to freelancers about negotiating their worth and working with clients who don't understand what they do.
It was very enlightening and we may be teaming up soon to put our findings into a talk. In the meantime here are some topics we hit on:
A lot of what it comes down to is early communication. Unlike most other workplaces, there is very rarely a CV or background check involved in entering into a new job, so its down to the freelancer to communicate anything important. It pays to establish a few things in the first email or phone-call before it's too late and you end up working on the clients terms.
Depending on the vibe you get from a new client, it may be up to you to educate them on a few things, such as the detail involved, length of a job, why your skills cost what they cost, and maybe even why they can't do it themselves.
Its important to know that the rate you are offering is well considered. Knowing your best rate should be based on a combination of your experience, your portfolio and the demand for your skills. Talk to peers regularly to get an idea of the industry standard rate and think about reviewing it every 2 years or so because of a) inflation, and b) your skills and experience are always improving.
While you may have been contacted for one key skill i.e. storyboarding, the client may not know that you are also a great illustrator, or prefer to edit or animate. Be gracious in letting them know what other skills you can bring to the table. For the client, this might be a welcome bonus, or a skill they didn't know how to ask for.
It also pays to establish your preferred way of working from early on. For me, I prefer to be hired for a single job from start to finish, rather than blocking out my time, and being spread across a number of duties. The time to let the client know your preference is at the beginning. Being able to explain the benefits of why you prefer to work in a particular way will help you in establishing a positive relationship. For the client, the benefit might come down to a more efficient use of freelance labour. While for you, it might mean working on projects that you really want to work on, and not getting caught up in the day-to-day of the office. Be prepared to compromise a little, but you will probably have a better time on the job if you bring this up early on.
Of course, it's always important to stay positive and be patient with all of your clients, customers and agencies. Remember at the end of the day, you are providing a service that they need, and will ultimately be paying you for.
I'm really excited to be working on a new project with Happiness Concierge, and will update on this soon. Watch this space.