By now, you probably know that not everyone can be a successful freelancer. Along with good organization, self-discipline, determination, desire to improve and grow, the work principles are yet another reason for freelancers to succeed (or fail).
We, freelancers, should know well who we are, what our capabilities are. We should have our work principles and stand our ground when negotiating with clients, potential or current ones. This way we increase our chances to make a good impression and land the job.
Of course, there will always be clients who’d prefer that we said only what they wanted to hear. Those clients will choose the bootlicker contractor and not the freelancer with work principles. Well, the good news is that we don’t need such clients anyway. Having said this, standing our ground and sticking to our work principles is a good way to filter the bad clients straight from the beginning 😉
As an example, I will share a few of my work principles as a freelancer
I always stick to these when I negotiate the terms of a contract, especially if I have not worked with the client before.
I need my freedom
I don’t tolerate clients who try to micromanage me – when I work, how much I work, where I work, am I in Skype while working or not… If the client has a good reason to require any of the above information – we can discuss and I can agree, but never just “because I say so”. What should matter to the client the most is that I keep my deadlines and do my job well. Freedom is what I couldn’t have at my regular 9-to-5 job and what I can afford to require as a freelancer. So I do.
I should never ever have to lie
Honesty and frankness define me very much as a person. Sometimes, it’s a curse but more often, it saves me the trouble in the long run. I don’t work with clients and don’t take upon projects which would in some way compromise my integrity. This is also the reason why I reject projects for marketing products and/or services which I would not buy and use myself.
I need to be trusted
I believe in the proverb “trust but verify” – that’s why I don’t mind filing regular reports, to take part in weekly meetings and discussions, etc. However, I do have a problem with micro-managers (I think I already said that!). I don’t handle well if someone’s constantly watching over my shoulder and following every little step along the way. After all, the client is paying for my services, right? The best thing to do is let me do my job 😀
Professionalism is paramount
Without a second thought I decline work from people who don’t know what they want or even worse – who think they are the smartest people ever lived; who think they know better, can better, do better than everyone else. These clients are a “lost cause”. I used to be lured by attractive propositions – highly paid project, a quick job for more than usual money, interesting product, etc. End of the day, I learnt my lesson. It is always better, both for my pocket and for my health, to stay away from unprofessional clients.
Excellent communication skills and objective feedback
I believe communication is a must for a successful collaboration. There’s no way a project would be completed successfully, unless the client and the freelancer(s) communicate well. For that reason, we should leave out the door our personal relations and ego. Both the client and the freelancer should ask questions and the other side should answer in timely manner. The client should give prompt and objective feedback for the job well (or not so well) done and not for the person who’s done the job. There should be a healthy team environment. It should be clear that if the freelancer needs help or advice, all he or she should do is ask. And vise verse – if the client has any doubts, concerns, or just needs more details about the project progress, all they need to do is ask.
I think I could list my work principles from dusk till dawn!
Unfortunately for my friends and family, sometimes my principles come close to pedantry 😀 But I’d like to end woth the following – I build my reputation on professionalism, skills, happy clients and trust. I have been disappointed only with colleagues-freelancers who have not had their work principles and have been chasing quick money and temporary results instead.
So my advice for you, fellow freelancers, is to think carefully what you want to achieve being a freelancer and to stand your ground and work principles when negotiating with clients.