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Collaborative freelancing is the answer

So what’s the question?

The question may be, How can get paid what I am worth?

Or, How can I get more good clients?

Maybe, How can I increase the value of my work?

Or even, How can I compete with freelancers in less expensive economies without working for less than minimum wage?

The answer, I believe, is collaborative freelancing.

“Collaborative” is typically defined as two or more people working together for a special purpose.

However, I’d like to expand the definition to recognize the heart of the matter. Collaboration is about relationship.

This relationship brings to mind the Twelve Points of the Scout Law: A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.

Well, I’m not so sure that reverent applies to freelancers. And there may even be problems with clean, especially for freelancers who work offsite. The quality of “clean” doesn’t apply if we are talking soap-and-water clean; instead we are talking about cleaning up problems with accuracy and functionality.

That leaves us with 10 or 11 Points of the Freelancer Law.

I am a freelancer myself, but I also am on the other side of the relationship since I hire freelancers to provide services I can’t provide for myself or that I detest.

Frankly, I’m finding it difficult to hire and work with freelancers. So many people are so sensitive to being disrespected that it’s challenging to negotiate a path forward. Some freelancers want to formalize and minimize communications to the extreme and are noncommittal about deadlines.

I’m not saying we freelancers should prostrate ourselves and allow ourselves to be walked all over. We have to manage our time effectively to fulfill assignments from multiple clients. We deserve time to ourselves and to live our lives. And this list is merely a starter list of what we need.

But I am saying that the client knows more about his company, its history, the direction in which it is moving, and the work to be done than the freelancer could possibly know. Working together in a timely fashion creates the best work.

This level of interaction may take more time, both in terms of the number of hours worked and the time span over which these hours extend. So be it. However the fee is determined, it should be sufficient relative to the freelancer’s time and work quality so that the freelancer enjoys the work and is not resentful.

Therefore, collaborative freelancing can be more expensive, but it can also be the more efficient way to develop an excellent product.

Sometimes the freelancer has to say NO. The freelancer must manage the relationship to benefit the project—and competing projects on her schedule—while maintaining sanity.

Collaborative freelancing benefits both the client and the freelancer. The final product is better, and the process to completion is more effective and more rewarding both intellectually and emotionally for both parties. And it simply is more fun.

This line of thinking fascinates me. I plan to explore it more deeply in the future.


Originally posted 12-19-16

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