I have been working freelance for more than 4 years now. Yet many of the same difficulties keep on appearing. So here’s my slightly tongue-in-cheek guide about how to work with me, to make sure everything runs smoothly.
- Think. This will help everyone. Try to solve your own problems, rather than asking me. You, the client, will know more about your own circumstances than I will.
- Talk to each other. It is not my job as the freelancer to solve issues that are essentially matters for the internal organisation in your office. So speak to your colleagues before asking me something.
- Appoint a contact person. This relates to point 2 – it’s better for everyone if communications are managed by just one person on the client side.
- More information is almost always better. One line e-mails just saying something doesn’t work are no good at all. What doesn’t work? Why? What browser are you using? What was the error message shown?
- My e-mail is my to-do list. So e-mail requests for changes, clearly structured, are the best way to get things done. If you think you need to call me to explain a problem you probably have not thought adequately about the problem (see point 1 above).
- Success of your website probably does not depend on me. Bit controversial this, but for most of my political clients the measure of success (or not) of a website is the quality of the content and not the quality of the design. So think about the next piece of content, not the precise shade of red of your sidebar. Also have a look at your web stats before making a request for technical changes, and divide the cost of the work by the number of visitors your site gets. Then think again if you need the technical changes, and go and write some more content instead.
- Think of how a freelancer’s life works. I am a one person operation. I cannot provide 24/7 service, and in any project I want to do what I can to help, but I am not trying to maximise my hours or the amount I can invoice. That is the reason all then sites I design give clients as much control and flexibility as possible. If you want full service and 24/7 support then go elsewhere, but expect a price tag that’s much higher too.
- Be prescriptive, but not too prescriptive. I cannot guess how you think, but equally you cannot know precisely how a website is coded. If you did you wouldn’t be employing someone to do it. So be willing to explain how a site should look, or how something should function, but conversely be ready to compromise at the margins as well.
- Take care with the tech that you choose. Force me to use your server or hosting firm and development (and costs) may rocket. Or your site might not work well.
- I’m connected all the time, but that doesn’t mean I’m working all the time. As a freelancer I have an unusual mix of personal and professional, and I’m online and on Facebook and Twitter all the time. That does not however mean it’s legitimate to make demands on my time at any hour, and posting messages on my Facebook wall is out of bounds.
- It’s not about the money. I don’t do the job I do because I earn a tremendous wage. I earn enough to live, and I enjoy what I do. So try to inspire me with the intellectual value of what you want to do – you’ll get better results.
I like the summary! Think you could offer to put it as a guest-post on a major tech blog. This certainly applies to many many web freelancers.