Run Like Hell Freelancer Scenarios
You’re a freelancer. You’ve been out on the web busting your butt and looking for work. Job sites like Elance, Guru, Freelancer or Odesk appeal to you because of the availability of warm leads.
You apply to an Elance job – well, actually several dozen – and feel on top of your game when you finally get that first job awarded to you. Everything’s going well – right?
Unfortunately, many of us find our dreams of a lucrative freelance career are curbed when we realize our early clients are super difficult. Not only are they difficult, they’re downright set on destroying the rep of any freelancer whose work doesn’t equal out to Ed MacMahon standing in their doorway with a rubber check.
Detecting and zeroing out the difficult clients is as much as a process as finding a freelancer or contractor to work for you. You should be asking yourself from bid phase to communicating about the project to starting the project if this client is going to be a good fit for you. If not, damage control and potentially ending the relationship should be a priority.
Detecting the Difficult Clients
If you hang out with seasoned freelancers, we’ll tell you about certain verbiage in an RFP that foretells some serious grief for you.
This should be an easy job is one of the greatest examples of run-the-hell-away language in an RFP. This expression foretells micromanagement more than any other you’ll find. If it’s so easy, why isn’t the client doing it? If a qualified freelancer runs into problems along the way, will the client address those fairly, or will you end up with a plateful of WHY HAVEN’T YOU HAD THIS DONE IT WAS SO EASY YOU’RE TERRIBLE FOR THIS JOB. Rather than navigating what the potential client means by all this, why not just move on to the next job?
Lowballing. Some folks are looking for $3/hr overseas providers. They really don’t care whether or not you implore them to save more money in the long run by using a US/English as first language hire. If you see an RFP that says “$50 for entire project” and you’re looking at 1+ hour of work, don’t bother. We could be having the “bill what you’re worth” conversation, but this is actually more of a “this client is not looking for you, so move on” conversation. Don’t waste your credits.
Provide a sample. Trust building is an awesome thing, and I encourage it with potential clients. Free work and a free consult/trust building are two different things. If you’re encouraged to provide a “sample paragraph” for writing, or a “sample campaign” for Adwords, you don’t have any indication that your potential client won’t clump the efforts of 10 different providers together and edit the results, pretty much getting the work for free. Your portfolio and profile results should provide more than enough evidence that you’re qualified for the job. If they don’t, work on these things and stop wasting time on clients who want free work.
Keep in mind these are the very basic run-like-hell scenarios. We’ll have more in future blogs. For now, if you’re a new provider, don’t give up! It takes time to get jobs and build out a great profile, but you can do it. Sites like Elance are giving rank preference to new providers, so just a few jobs could get your foot in the door and pave the way to a lucrative career.