Murphy’s Laws of Freelancing

Posted: August 30th, 2010

Murphy’s Laws apply to all aspects of life and work. When you think about though, weren’t they made especially for freelancing? For example…

If anything can go wrong in freelancing, it will. You’ll survive though. Maybe.

Work always comes at you when you are busiest. When you are not busy at all, lots of luck to you.

As a freelancer, you are doomed to repeat history no matter how much of it you learn in advance.

Just wing it. No one will notice.

Your client told you X but he really meant Y.

You told your client X, but he really heard Y.

You really hope to earn X dollars. You really earn X – Y dollars where Y is the time in hours you spend on Twitter.

You will develop a debilitating addiction to coffee and/or cigarettes. Luckily no one will notice the tremors since you never leave the house.

Your client is willing to pay up to 110% more than what you actually charging him.

The amount of time you spend writing an estimate is inversely proportional to the likelihood that you will actually get the project.

Vacation is solely defined as the time you spend NOT working (i.e. eating, sleeping). Commonly mistaken for “trip” which must be some word in German or something.

Freelancing Links You Can Shake a Stick At

Posted: August 27th, 2010

Top Ten Reasons a Freelancer Would Rather Be Back In Grade School

Posted: August 25th, 2010

It’s that time of year again, as if those million ads you see all over the place haven’t reminded you already. Yes, back to school for the kiddies but freelancers often reminisce of those days of old. In fact, here are the top reasons we wouldn’t mind stopping by class with Mrs. Daily again.

10. Bullying kids is a little more profitable these days.

9. Could really impress other students with your Twitter follower count.

8. Might as well check back on that old teacher crush you had. You know, just to be sure.

7. Have to see in person why those damn kids are so smart nowadays.

6. Can recruit classmates to fill in on projects in exchange for candy.

5. Have to warn all the kids about the perils of getting a real job when they grow up.

4. You have excellent trade value with your stash of gourmet coffee and and Red Bull.

3. Trying to end caffeine addiction with phonics.

2. Need some new people to swoon about my iPhone to.

1. Have to warn the kids what a real nerd looks like when all grown up.

How To Royally Screw Yourself In Freelancing

Posted: August 23rd, 2010

Photo by Sancktime2007 (Flickr)

Photo by Sancktime2007 (Flickr)

A big part of earning the real income in freelancing is maximizing the time on work that generates it and minimizing the rest of the time that doesn’t.

Well, that thought can sometimes leave you in a bind and end up costing you dearly, too. How? In just one word.

Details.

We’re not talking about the actual work you do either. If you are good at what you do, this will never be an issue. No, the details I’m referring to are in the planning stages before starting the actual work.

I’ll admit that I tend to get a sudden onset of attention deficit disorder when it comes to contracts and specs to carry out before starting on projects. This is especially true due to my belief that time not working on projects is money lost.

Guess what though? Sooner or later you’ll run into a client who pays more attention to detail to specs than you do. If you’re caught off guard, that means he can leverage more work out of you. You left to either bite your tongue and do it or put up a fight which can get ugly and put a dent in your reputation should the client protest as well.

I’ve known these for a long time but, along with my onsets of ADD, I do tend to get bouts of  “short memory,” too, so remember the following before you dive into any project. Yes, it does take extra time and, in some cases, way more than you would like it to but, trust me, it’s well worth it.

1. Understand what the client wants.

Knowing exactly what your client wants means knowing exactly the work you have to do. No more, no less. Nuff said.

2. Document everything.

You’ve probably heard it time and time again. Maybe you do use contracts or never had to use them since your clients are “easy going.”  Either way, it is extremely important to channel your inner lawyer and pay attention to every word you document with your client.

With everything, I mean everything: payment terms, milestones, credit history (ok, maybe far reaching) but, most important, project specs. Then with the project specs, document it with, you guessed it, everything you’ll do. The whole point is to cover yourself in case the client tries to get more work out of you because they will try. Believe me.

Have a visit at one of my older posts for help on documentation and check out Kyle Weiber’s post on bulletproofing your freelance contracts.

3. Spend the time.

Yes, creating and going over your contracts and specs are time consuming and really eat into your work time. There are even days where the only thing you do is create contracts and specs. Personally, though, I’ve lost several days of work completing a project in overtime due to a single bad contract I made.

So as time consuming as it is, you’ll thank yourself later when a client demands another redo and the contract specifies he doesn’t have one left without that extra charge. If it eases things further, creating contracts and specs will become easier and quicker over time.

Have you had experiences where you’ve had to do more work than you had thought you documented. Let’s hear it in a comment below.

The Week In Freelance: August 13th

Posted: August 13th, 2010

10 Random Thoughts On Why My Freelancing Career Is As Weird As Yours

Posted: August 11th, 2010

Photo by Bigandyherd (Flickr)

Photo by Bigandyherd (Flickr)

I’ve been freelancing for just over 8 years now. While I never dreamed or planned on being a freelancer, there is certainly no way I’ll ever go back to traditional employment. Looking back on those eight years, though, makes me think what a long strange trip it’s been through ten random thoughts:

  • I graduated with a degree in Psychology, but started freelancing doing web programming with no experience. I even write what you see here after many past failures in writing. Uhm, what just happened?
  • My most valued possesions are now whittled down to just a computer, Wifi, PayPal account, passport, and discipline. Sunlight, too, but I don’t really own that.
  • Of all my clients, who are located in Spain, USA, Canada, Australia and Sweden, I haven’t met 93% of them face-to-face.
  • Of those remaining 7% of clients, all except one live in the same city. I actually travelled 5266 miles once to see that last one. Not even the one in Australia either.
  • Out of those who I haven’t met personally, I can recognize 22% through their voice, YouTube video, photo in Facebook or a Gravatar. Who knew a “gravatar” would become a univeral means of recognition?
  • Probably my worst occupational hazard has been a severe addiction to caffeine and Swedish tobacco pouches (a.k.a. “snus”).
  • Definitely my worst occupational hazard… current withdrawals from drastically cutting back on each.
  • All of these will happen at least once in your career: You get stiffed on a payment, your equipment gets lost/stolen/damaged/eaten, you’ll survive a week on a $10 food budget (borrowed from a friend).
  • Then again, the following will also happen at least once too: You’ll find a cash cow of a client (through pure luck), you’ll truly enjoy that first vacation you take and you’ll also truly savor those meals when you begin to eat out again.
  • Then there is the discovery of one of Murphy’s Law of Freelancing: If there ever is a point when you are so desperate for work, that you consider the sex trade, it will be immediately followed by a period of so much work that you won’t be able to stop complaining about it.