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Dealing with Clients

Drawing the Line Between Personal and Business Life

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A topic that affects freelancers, especially those new to the freelance world, is separating your personal life and ‘me time’ from work. After all, if you’re sitting at home in your underwear working on a design for a client – it doesn’t really feel much like work.

To better understand why freelancers have this problem, let’s look at why workers of the typical 9-5 office job don’t have to deal with this as much as us work-at-home types. When you take on a typical job, you’re given: your hours to be at work, a work email, and typically a phone number (or extension number), which your boss, and depending on the type of work, possibly your clients know this.

If you work for a small marketing agency and a client needs to get in touch with you at the end of the day, a quick glance at the watch to see that it’s 4:30pm means that the client needs to ring you quickly, as you’ll soon be getting ready to leave. If it’s after your 5pm finish, or an out of hours time such as the weekend, then the contact mediums are obvious; send an email or leave a voicemail. Since your hours are 9-5 on Monday-Friday, it’s easy to work out approximately when you’ll get the all important message.

The problem freelancers face is many of us don’t work set hours. For example, I try and keep my working hours between 9am and 4pm, but sometimes I’ll work into the evenings, or if I’m not busy one weekend then I might work a Saturday to get on top of my workload. Not all clients know this – because often I don’t know this either. That’s one of the things about freelancing – hours can be decided there and then if they need to be.

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Navigating the Pitfalls of a Client-Friend Relationship

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Last week I had a meeting with a new prospective client that got seriously off-track. She burst into the café where we were meeting, flopped down and launched into a story about this crazy thing that had just happened to her. She had me giggling so hard that I had to dab tears from my eyes. Turns out, I had a similar story, so, of course, I had to share mine.

For a long while after that discussion there was no talk of business, just knee-slapping stories and riotous laughter. It was only an hour later, when we were both merrily pretending to wolf down cheeseburgers, that I remembered I was in search of a new client, not a new BFF. But with all those laughter-induced endorphins running through me, I couldn’t help but wonder: would it be so wrong if she turned out to be both?

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Prove It: Handling Tests and Spec Requests from Clients

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I was called recently about a freelance job for a local corporate entity and met to speak with the marketing director. After a few days, I received an e-mail informing me I was one of six “finalists” for the assignment. The message contained a list of several advertising campaigns, a rebranding of the logo, signage and billboards. It said all finalists were to do these for a presentation in two weeks. My first thought was…not fit to be printed here.

I contacted the marketing director and asked if he was serious about asking for such an amount of work, in such a short amount of time, on speculation. I pointed out that no bid had been discussed and without knowing the fee structure, even working on speculation was too risky. He replied that I could do as much as I wanted, but the person who did the most would probably win the assignments.

I asked if he was willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement that indicated I was to retain the intellectual property. He replied that the legal department was “out of town” and wouldn’t “be back in time.”

I knew what they were trying to do, so I wrote up a marketing plan that showed why the outline they had handed out was flawed and how I would approach it. I did not design one thing they asked.

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