Recently Preston launched his debut Q&A video series where he talks about handling clients that treat us like employees.
If you watched it, you know that Preston talks about what I believe is a freelancer designer’s greatest attribute. (And it’s not just designers…any freelancer/entrepreneur shares this very valuable asset.)
Can you guess what I’m talking about?
Our greatest attribute is…
Flexibility, in one way or another, is the upper-hand we enjoy over almost every other type of business – big corporations, franchises, quick-turn companies, and even mid-size agencies.
So how do we leverage this potent asset? We have many ways…
While bigger companies are stuck with the pricing their boss sets, freelancers have the freedom to price each project for the client at hand.
Sure, you should be fair with your pricing amongst similar client projects, but there’s no reason you have to create strict pricing and stick to it.
Before you think I’m headed off the deep end, here are a few reasons why I might charge more or less than I normally would:
- A non-profit whose cause I believe in
- A pain-in-the-neck client or one who needs a lot of hand-holding
- How much other work is on my plate at the time
- The client’s location
- The client’s industry
- A client who needs a helping hand getting started (be careful here…don’t cheat yourself, and don’t expect them to instantly pay top dollar once you’ve gotten your foot in the door.)
If a company is big enough to have one, the accounting department usually sets the payment parameters, tying the hands of the salesman.
However, as a freelancer, we wear all the hats and therefore can find a solution that suits our clients’ needs, such as:
- Creating a monthly payment plan (signed by both parties, of course) to spread out design costs for a start-up.
- Trading services for partial/full payment (just make sure your business – not your personal life – actually needs this service and that you can still put food on the table).
- Setting your terms of payment and down payment percentage.
- Being understanding when a great client accidentally forgets to pay an invoice. – from GDB reader Joe Hirst
- Applying a discount to invoices settled within the terms agreed. – from GDB reader John Wildgoose
Facebook me if your freelancing hours are 9-5, Monday through Friday. You’ll be the very first freelancer I’ve ever met with “normal” hours.
As freelancers, we can:
- Prepare a proof for Monday off Friday afternoon’s revisions.
- Rush projects in exchange for sleep (for a fee).
- Tackle a project that’s outside our comfort zone.
How many times has your conference call started out with, “I really appreciate your flexibility in postponing this meeting 30 minutes…” or “Thank you so much for taking this call after business hours…?”
I hear it a lot (mostly the former).
Clients with strict or busy schedules are thrilled to find a freelancer who can adapt to their needs.
Okay, this one might be more for us and less for the client.
Seriously, though, instead of having to work with the idiot at the next desk who can’t seem to provide a print-ready file to save his life, we as freelancers can choose to work with truly awesome talent (even if that’s only our super selves).
This greatly benefits our clients when we can hire people who specialize in areas that we prefer not to handle – video, illustration, web dev, etc.
On the flip side…
The even greater thing is, we don’t have to be flexible if we don’t want to.
While it often pays handsomely to bust out a project over the weekend, if we’re visiting family, going to the lake, or catching a concert, we’re able to say “no, I’m sorry, this weekend is already full.”
If we don’t want to take a project for a shady client, we can turn them down.
As freelancers, we get personal flexibility as well. The freedom to choose life over work (so long as we can still pay the bills).
A matter of perspective
Too many freelancers look at flexibility as a burden – having to say “no” in client negotiations. And let’s face it, sometimes we have to bite the bullet and stand our ground, and it’s no fun.
However, let’s look at flexibility in a positive light – the freedom to say “yes!”, to both our clients and ourselves.
Join the discussion!
How do you leverage your flexibility? When has flexibility won you a client – or a referral? Have you ever talked a client out of hiring a “company” over a freelancer? Leave a comment and let us know!