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  • Diana Schneidman

Three types of freelance craziness

No wonder many people think freelancing is the most wonderful lifestyle anyone could ever have, considering the stuff I’ve been seeing lately:

  1. The very, very short workweek

At a social / networking event I recently attended, a fellow freelancer told me that The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss, represents the lifestyle he wants to achieve. Yes, he wants to live well while working only one-half day per week.

I was dumbstruck within but kept it together during the conversation.

I don’t remember what kind of freelancing or consulting he did. I think it was something about marketing. What was interesting was that he communicated neither the steak nor the sizzle.

Obviously he is much more intrigued by a freewheeling life involving little work than he is with the services he offers.

As a freelancer myself, I frequently contract with others to provide me with services that I don’t do for myself, either because I don’t enjoy them, I don’t know how, or as a one-person business I don’t have enough time.

However, I run from someone whose top priority is to avoid work. I don’t want my project sitting in the queue of a person with so little commitment to getting the job done.

I understand that many coaches of freelancers have a USP (selling proposition) on the theme of showing us how to make more money in less time while working with clients we love. That claim works for them because it appeals to their audience—freelancers.

But we freelancers do not attract the best clients, especially B2B, with that same USP. Sure, it sounds good to freelancers but it does not sound good to their clients.

  1. I’ll do your work as soon as I get to Indonesia

Along the same line, I see coaches of freelancers who have established international travel as their primary life goal and want to teach freelancers to do the same. They boast about how many continents and how many countries they have traveled, ideally working along the way.

They may get a lot of paying work done, but I’d demand to know exactly how before I’d sign up with them and even give a deposit. What’s the point of so much travel if it takes you to Starbucks around the globe that are pretty similar to the one down the street from your home? I think it would be difficult to maintain a regular work schedule living from a backpack.

  1. Now you see him, now you don’t

The third craziness I see are freelancers flaking out on work commitments. They get deep into a project, eliciting hours of input from the client and putting in billable hours for work that has not been finalized. Then they disappear, if not permanently at least for substantial periods of time. The client’s project is up in the air and they are worse off than if they had never contracted for the work.

Sometimes these freelancers have set their price too low, perhaps because it is for a friend.

Once the rate is set, that’s it. It’s not the client’s problem. The freelancer may accept the work as fill-in because there’s no other paying work at the moment, but it’s shortsighted without considering that better paying work may be on the horizon.

Sometimes we take on the assignment but explain that higher paying work will come first. So long as the client agrees and so long as we keep the friend / client religiously apprised of changes in scheduling, that’s OK.

Originally posted 11-21-16

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