Are your clients like Wimpy, or are you?

February 15, 2011

Yesterday was Valentines Day. While most use this as a day to give chocolate and cook for a loved one (or have them cook for you), I’m a little different and use Valentines Day to quietly reflect on advice I’ve received from people who I love and admire.

One such example is from a man I call Alistair. I call him Alistair because well, that’s his name. Alistair Morton is one the principles behind and possibly one of the best graphic designers in the world.

The advice he gave me was pretty simple: If any freelance job starts with a client saying two out of three of the following, you may want to re-consider the gig.

“It’ll be great for your portfolio!”

You know what kind of stuff is great for your portfolio? Big Brands and high profile stuff. Usually this means people who can afford to pay you and yet you are still being asked to work for free or far below your value. That’s not good, you’re a professional and need to acknowledged as such. This sort of stuff may be attractive if you’re starting out but, if your client is going to make money off it, then you need to get a cut. If you’re trying to run a business, working free means you will not get far.

“We’re already over budget.”

This is kinda like when J. Wellington Wimpy would say to Popeye “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today”. That means they have no budget and maybe no money to pay you…or at least pay you in reasonable time, and seriously would anyone trust Wimpy? That guy is kinda shifty. But back to the point, if people are telling you ahead of time that they have blown through their budget then chances are they’ve been dissatisfied with everything they have seen so far and probably fired the freelancer. Do you want walk into that situation? Nope. Again, it’s a good idea to consider saying no, especially if the person hiring you has a silent J. as a first name.

“We need it in a hurry.”

Rush jobs are pretty common and are not on their own a warning flag. However, if coupled with any of the above makes it a different kind of rush job.  Rushing through a project will not deliver the best outcome for you and your client (remember, you want this for your portfolio…) So if you are going to jump into this you should probably know exactly what they are looking for since you probably are not going to get many opportunities for revisions.

Advice, like love is a funny thing, not everyone believes in it and you certainly don’t need to take it for fact. But one thing is for sure, if you combine Alistair’s advice with another J. Wellington Wimpy witticism, you will pretty much know where you stand before you go into any freelance job.

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