A Freelance Way of Life
Consider this scenarioI got a call from a client looking for SEO services for his E-Commerce website. After a detailed discussion for about 30 mins, he asked me to send him the proposal, fee structure, etc. Next day I sent him the details and within an hour of sending email, I received a call from him. He told me that he read my proposal and it’s good and I should revise my charges, etc. the usual you know. But then he asked me that when I sent him the ‘new charges’, I should have also sent him the detailed info about what areas I would target on the site, what would be my strategy and how I implement them.
Now let’s just stop here for a moment and let me tell you another scenario.
A couple of years back, when I started working in TradeKey, I was approached by a big Media Group for SEO of their website. Like any other passionate & excited professional, I visited them, had a lengthy talk with their manager/director, listening about how good he knew Search Marketing. He even asked me to train his existing SEO team. At the end of the meeting, he requested me to provide him the SEO ACTION PLAN for the website. Now I was a little “hyped up” for being approached by a big media group at that point of my career, so I did what any person in my place would have done. I provided them detailed report on what the issues were on their website from both SEO & UX perspective and how they could be eliminated. I even provided them examples on what the optimal settings would be and what the new structure of website should be as per Google guidelines. Days passed and I never heard from them. A month later, one fine morning, when I visited their website to read news, I noticed that they had implemented every single of my recommendation on their website. I was pretty impressed by myself however my friends thought that I was stupid to provide them the SEO Plan.
Now back to our previous scenario…
Recalling my past experiences with Detailed SEO Action Plans, I refused the detailed report for this e-commerce client but sent him the revised charges. A couple of days later, I got a call and after usual greetings this is how our conversation went.
Client: I saw your report and I need you to discuss a couple of things with my developer, can you come to my office?
Me: Sure, I will be available tomorrow after 02:00 PM.
Client: Actually I asked my developer to come today and he is waiting, so you have to come now.
Me:Sir, I have another pre-scheduled meeting with someone, so it’s not possible for me to cancel it and come to your office on such short notice.
Client: Yar if you are not available for meeting when we need you, how we gonna work then? I need the person to be in constant contact with my team so things can go smoothly.
Me:Sir, I understand but I need you to ask me at least before you setup any meeting with your developer or team. It’s not possible for me to visit your office on such short notices.
Client: Chalain ok. I will talk with my developer and let you know.
And he never called me again.
Unfortunately this is not just my story. Every freelancer has similar experiences where clients think that you are working full time for them. I am not talking about the issues where clients want you to beat the largest player in industry for 5000 PKR per month. I am not even pointing fingers towards those who thinks they know everything but don’t even bother to consider that a person having 6+ years of Managerial Experience will not be interested in 10,000 PKR per month projects. I am talking about a general mindset in our industry where client thinks that a design mockup or a marketing report is his right and we are obliged to provide him whatever he demands for FREE before we even finalize the project cost.
It takes almost 2 to 3 hours for a simple competitor analysis or market research. A simple design mockup can take a couple of hours, even if the designer is just copying and pasting stuff from other websites. During those hours, a freelancer is working for you or your project. Technically you should compensate the freelancer for those hours but asking him for a blueprint or final design so you can decide whether to work with him or not, for free, is simply absurd. Working as a freelancer doesn’t mean that a person is in need or he/she has 30 hours per day instead of 24. A freelancer has to work on your requests by sacrificing his/her other activities or jobs. If a person with 5 years of working experience is working as a freelancer, that doesnt mean he should be charging a lot less or same as a person with 2-year experience. A person can be freelancing just for adding up more experience in various industries or just because he/she thinks that with his/her experience, he/she can manage & complete the work in lesser time.
If you are promising me lots of business in future, it doesn’t mean I will spend 10 hours on your project for free. Just like you “will” bring more business after seeing results, a freelancer will be more than happy to accommodate you with special pricing once you start giving him/her regular business. Exploiting someone to get free services or wasting other people’s time may seem a good way to get a good bargain but in the long run, it will only hurt your reputation (just like Pizza Hut Online Advertising Case) and in online business, your reputation is everything.