The Freelance Fellowship approach to freelancing
The freelance life can seem so charming and care-free to those who don’t actually do it (spoiler alert for anyone who’s just quit the day job), but while it can be hugely fulfilling there are a some perennial problems that most of us have had to tackle at some point.
Where possible we try to reduce or neutralise those problems because we want you working at your creative best, not pulling your hair out. Here’s some tough lessons most of us learned pretty quickly and how we can help.
Being your own boss
The number one problem people complain about when they are full-time employed is their boss. Most of us have dreamed of one day escaping from these motivation-crushing overlords and running ourselves. Once you’ve actually done it though it can become clear you’ve swapped that one boss for several – in the form of clients – and they can be every bit as dictatorial (for any of our clients who are reading this – not you, of course).
What we do: Being your own boss is most importantly about self-directed work. When we take on a client, we deal with them – we go through their needs and establish goals. Then we give those goals to you. We brief you on whats needed and by when, otherwise you can work as you see fit. And if you think the goals are stupid you can tell us and we’ll listen – we’ll do the job of negotiating with the client so you can just be honest without any fear of losing the work.
Finding new business
Finding new business can be very difficult, particularly earlier on in your career before you’ve built up a roster of ‘regulars’. Most creative services work is driven by the demand not the supply side and it can be difficult to know how to magically find people who need your work. It can be great to network and meet new people, especially if you’re stuck at home the rest of the time, but less so when you’re next paycheque depends on it.
What we do: We’re not a marketplace site, so we don’t have an endless supply of work for everyone who signs up, but there’s very few creatives we’ve started working with who haven’t become ‘regulars of ours. And knowing that from time to time a good job will just pop up unbidden can be a very reassuring feeling.
Some clients just don’t know what they want. Others know all-too-well what they want – even in the absence of a jot of experience of the work they are commissioning or the slightest idea what the ramifications of what they are demanding will be (again, none of our clientsare like this…).
What we do: Some clients are great of course, but it always takes some expectation management at the beginning of a project, so by the time we come to you with the brief, we’ll have made sure it is sensible and achievable with neither too much nor too little guidance.
Whether they are asking you to make the logo bigger, try it ‘the same, but in red’, pop in triple exclamation points, ‘zoom out’ on a piece of footage you shot three weeks ago or simply rewrite the whole thing for the third time, client changes can be one of the most frustrating things about creative work.
What we do: We proof the work with clients and if they have changes that don’t make sense we push back. If they have changes that do need to be made but they weren’t your fault – or we can just as easily do them ourselves – we will. We know when to say ‘enough’.
Working when it suits you
One of the benefits of freelancing – especially for the many parents of young children we work with – is the flexibility to keep your own hours. That’s not much use if you have clients who need you to be responding to emails or jumping on conference calls while they are in the office. On the other hand, for those who do like to keep a routine it can be difficult to explain to a client that just because you work from home that doesn’t mean you’re always on duty.
What we do: Some of our team like to work evenings, late nights or early mornings at the weekends… Some expressly don’t. We run pretty much round the clock, so we’ll work with you when it suits you, and not when it doesn’t. Tell us what hours you work and we’ll respect the fact that outside of those you’re off limits.
Boring or difficult work
We know not every project is going to be a non-stop thrill ride, but if more of your work than not is boring – or intensely difficult – it’s because it’s not tailored to your interests – or skillset.
What we do: We get to know you, find out your interests and strengths and try to make sure that we’re only giving you work that is going to suit you. The feeling of ‘flow’ comes from doing work that you find interesting and meaningful where it’s challenging you but not enough to make you want to give up. that’s what we aim for.
Losing out to freelance sites
There has been much coverage recently about freelance platforms that are taking increasing cuts of freelancers pay or making them ‘pay to get paid’. We won’t mention any offenders here, but the brokerage commission model that so many of these sites use creates an incentive to such bad behaviour. It also encourages less discerning buyers on the sites to drop their prices and let freelancers fight over the crumbs.
What we do: We pay standard rates for the work we commission – you’ll always get the same rate and you’ll always get every penny. Because we standardise rates we’re incentivised to give the work to the most suitable – not the cheapest – person.
We saved the best one for last. We’ve not come across a freelancer yet who didn’t have a story about a nightmare client that kept them waiting weeks or months, jumping through absurd administrative hoops just to get paid for finished work. Employees would never be expected to put up with such treatment and nor should freelancers
What we do: We pay you when you finish the work. Not 60 days from the last day of the month in which you submitted the invoice, actually when you finish the work. When we commission the work we put your pay in our stripe account with your name on it. When you finish, we check a box and it lands in your account.