Alongside all that oft-touted freedom and control, freelancing can be a tough gig.
Not that I’m complaining. I knew the drill when I started out. No-one pays you to go on holiday or for being ill, you have to sort out your own pension arrangements, and you’re expected to just get on with the job.
But that’s enough of the violins. Generally, I love being a freelancer so much that I’ve got no intention of returning to full-time employment, which will be good news for anyone who’s ever had to manage me in the past.
One reason for this is the clients I’m lucky enough to work with. While they’re all fantastic (I suppose I have to say that, don’t I!) – if I’m being really honest, there are a select few I really love. These are the clients I don’t mind working into the night for, so they don’t miss a last-minute deadline; the ones whose emails make me smile, even if their contents are requesting something close to the impossible.
Clearly, a trusted freelancer who understands you and your company is worth their weight in gold. But if you manage freelancers as part of your job, you’re one of many people they have to deal with in the course of a working day. Your freelancers are in charge of their own schedule and their own workload, which means that when you give them a job, they’ll decide when and how they want to do it.
Going by my own experience, the unvarnished truth is: if you treat your freelancers well, the service you’ll get will be that little bit better. It’s human nature.
Here are some of the reasons why my favourite clients get my best work.
The clients I work hardest for respect my time. Yes, they’re paying for it, but that doesn’t mean they get to monopolise it.
Respecting my time is as simple as giving me a deadline that doesn’t make my eyes water, and being at least a little bit apologetic when they leave something to the last minute.
They’re clear about what they want me to do
While this might sound picky, I often refuse to work with potential clients who don’t know what they want, or who act as though they don’t care about the work I’m doing for them. Regardless of how much they’re paying.
Doing this means I only work with the cream of the client crop, so it’s an attitude that’s served me really well so far.
They pay my invoices on time
Though I know everyone’s busy, when I complete a piece of work on or before an agreed deadline (particularly when it’s a crippling one), it makes my heart sink if I have to chase for payment two weeks later.
My own philosophy on paying people is very simple: if I ask you to do a job for me, you do it well and you send the work on time, then I pay you straight away. It’s the least you should expect.
Getting a ‘thank you’ from your boss is something that should happen at least once every so often. But when you’re an unseen freelancer, there can be a perception that your payment should be enough.
Genuine appreciation for a job well done is, for me at least, worth far more than a dusty selection of company ‘perks’, which is why one of my favourite break-time tasks is leaving positive reviews and recommendations for people who have done something talented for me.
(Not only do positive referrals keep freelancers in business, a ‘surprise’ Facebook or LinkedIn review can really lift someone’s day, and they might even want to return the favour by making sure they exceed your expectations in future!)
If you’d like a starring role as one of my favourite clients, all you need to do is come up with a writing project, then get in touch to start the process!