I mentioned the importance of conducting a mid-year assessment so you can evaluate your performance, habits, and cash flow. And once you pinpoint anything that holds you back, whether from being the best that you can be in your craft or getting the maximum remuneration given your skills and years of experience, you can resolve to take steps to get better.
The good news is you have the rest of 2014 to acquire more positive habits, get rid of the roadblocks, or simply maintain the ones that have been particularly helpful in keeping you efficient.
Having said all of the above, let's continue to prune your habits and routine. Carefully consider the next question:
Were you able to handle "sticky" situations well?
Success in freelancing lies partly in being competent and skilled, while the rest lies in how well you communicate your terms to potential clients, listen and understand their needs, and being flexible enough to strike a compromise whenever necessary.
But just like any other career, freelancing has its share of problems, and, at one point or another, you'll find yourself caught in a tight spot, sometimes unintentionally; in other times, due to your lack of better judgment or miscalculations of the risks involved in a project.
To illustrate, let's say you promised a client to turn in six keyword-rich, 400-word articles on Wednesday for his website. You were aware that you were assigned a highly specialized topic (selling previously owned vehicles) that targets a niche market.
Now, you never anticipated the level of difficulty and amount of research you needed to undertake to meet your clients' desired result, which is to get the majority of potential buyers to choose a second-hand car over a brand-new one for economical reasons. It's Tuesday afternoon and you're still busy pounding on your keyboard. There's no way you can submit six finished drafts the following day.
Or how about this: your client still hasn't paid you the remaining 30 percent of your freelancer's fee and, after a few days past the deadline, you got a call from him, asking if you'd be willing to make further revisions because insiders in the company he was representing were dissatisfied with the results of your project.
Now, you've made it clear, as stated in your contract, that you'll allow free revisions only if your client got in touch with you within 48 hours after turning in the finished project. So if you'll agree to go ahead and revise your work, you would need to charge an additional fee. How do you explain this to your client without coming across as greedy?
By now you may have realized that any of these "sticky" situations can be turned into an opportunity to further improve the way you negotiate with clients. Regarding the first case, you can ask for an extension, like asking if you could submit the finished articles on Friday instead of Wednesday.
With the second case, see if your client's request for further revisions is reasonable, and write him an email, stating that you're charging him additional fees because this would mean an extension in your contract.
Stay tuned as I round up this series in my next few articles.