After Hours

10 things you shouldn't believe about freelancing

If you're thinking about going freelance, be forewarned: Much of what you hear -- about the freedom, the money, the work itself -- is just plain wrong.

Freelancing seems to be a goal for many IT professionals, but it's not all it's cracked up to be. Many of the perks people believe freelancers enjoy simply don't live up to their billing. While the following anecdotal musings might give the impression that I'm disillusioned with freelancing, I'm not. On the contrary, many days I feel like I've cashed in a winning lottery ticket (not one of the really big ones, but a winner just the same). If freelancing is your goal, do it for the right reasons -- your reasons -- not because of the myths you hear.

1: Freelancers make the big bucks

If you think freelancing is your road to riches, buy a new map. Freelancing can be lucrative if you're in the right place at the right time. Most freelancers struggle to keep the lights on the same as everyone else. I don't know any freelancers who claim to be much better off than when they were traditionally employed. During a dry spell, after the savings cushion is depleted, freelancing can be downright scary.

2: Freelancers can specialize

The military specializes; IT freelancers do it all. It's possible to carve out a small niche for yourself. I like helping people use their software efficiently, but that alone doesn't pay my bills. Some of the projects I work on put me to sleep, which reduces my dollar-per-hour rate, as afternoon nap isn't on my fee schedule! The industry changes so fast that the only thing most freelancers specialize in is retraining to keep up.

3: Freelancers are their own bosses

I treat each of my clients as if he or she is my only boss. I cultivate that relationship on purpose. The downside is that I have several bosses. Clients mediate with me more than a traditional boss might, but ultimately, they get what they want. I can decide not to accept a project -- that's the extent of my bossiness. I'm fond of saying that I'm boss of that cushy and enviable spot right between a rock and a hard place.

4: Freelancers accomplish more!

So what? The myth is that freelancers accomplish more because we're free to focus on the job at hand. The truth is, freelancers accomplish more because we work more. Unfortunately, all those hours aren't billable.

5: Freelancers are happier because they're doing what they love

I love my grandchildren and my garden. I love long walks in the woods and teaching children that snakes aren't all bad. (No, that's not my dating profile...) IT pays the bills so I can indulge my grandchildren and have a garden. Don't get me wrong. I know a lot of IT contractors who genuinely enjoy their work -- I'm one of them. Despite that, I believe most IT freelancers are in the business because they have strong marketable skills, not because they're passionate about IT. (Passion and IT shouldn't even be used together in the same sentence.)

I face most workdays with a positive attitude and a can-do awareness of my skills (and my limitations). In that respect, I do have an advantage, but I would take that attitude with me into traditional employment. It's me, not the freelancing.

6: Freelancers work in their pajamas

I can't dispel this myth because I'm not a voyeur. I, however, don't work in my pajamas unless I'm checking in while sick (because I'm that dedicated). I make jokes about working in my pajamas, but... I'm joking! I need the daily discipline of brushing my teeth and putting on clothes to raise the shade on the working day ahead. (But I do fill my birdbaths while in my pajamas. That's not just idle gossip.)

7: Freelancers have more freedom

The only freedom freelancers really have is the freedom to go broke. (I can't claim that as an original thought; I've heard it many times.) Freelancers may have more freedom to vary their routine a bit: Do I want to work dawn to dusk or dusk to dawn? Do I want to work Monday through Sunday or Tuesday through Monday? Freelancers make choices. Choices with consequences.

8: Freelancers have less stress

Absolutely not true! Persons laid off from traditional employment have the temporary benefit of unemployment compensation. I'm only a fickle client or two away from foraging for meals in the Red River Gorge or wearing a cardboard sign that reads "Will program for food." Okay, that's a dramatization, as the little lizard says, but freelancers have the same responsibilities as everyone else.

9: You need a Web site

I once asked Techrepublic.com readers about having the obligatory Web site, and most of those responding believed a Web site was necessary. But even though I followed all my own Web site-publicizing tips, mine brought in no new business. If you build it, they will come... totally wasn't true, at least, not in my case. All my business comes from word of mouth and old-fashioned scouting.

I would never suggest that IT contractors not publish an informational Web site. I'm just not convinced that they attract new business.

10: Freelancers can sleep in

While you're fixing breakfast and stretching body parts, I'm answering my first calls of the day. It's true that I only have to commute across the hall, but I'm already at work when you step into the shower. I do sleep in occasionally, but not any more than the rest of the workforce. I can hear the collective whine -- But at least you could if you wanted to. That's not true; I'm on call when my clients are working. Anything less would be irresponsible and my clients would soon replace me.

None of the prevailing myths attracted me to freelancing. The truth is, after 20-something years in traditional employment, I was tired of having the company go out of business or move to another planet or being replaced when a new director came in with his or her own people. I never want my livelihood to be at the mercy or discretion of others again. I rely on my own wits -- for better or worse.

About

Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

108 comments
CLageweg
CLageweg

I've done more contracting than regular employment in my career. I like both for different reasons. And definitely there's a down side to freelancing (no training, no benefits, less socializing at work, long spells between jobs, payment issues, being away from home, lack of stability, etc.). But then it has a lot of benefits as well. You are more objective and therefore can be more effective at work. Fewer political battles to fight. Your job is usually very well defined (no elastic job description). The per hour fee is usually higher. You are sometimes regarded as the outside expert, giving you more credibility and a better ability to succeed. On high profile jobs, you will have clear support from stakeholders. You can start a job and finish it - when you are an employee some jobs never end. A sense of independence. A sense of adventure - starting a new contract in a new company and new locale. As said before, it depends on your personal preference. One could easily write "10 things you should not believe about employment" that lists all the myths about FT employment. E.g. myth #1 "Security".

Matthew Moran
Matthew Moran

There are some here that read Susan's article and take it as a negative portrayal of freelancing. I don't.. It is merely pointing out that freelancing is not necessarily working in your pajamas and having money pour in. I've been an independent consultant since 1995 and would not have done it this long if it wasn't appealing. For me it would be much more difficult to have a job where I coded the same project for 12, 24, 36, forever months. Someone asked me about getting started as a consultant... I'll offer a couple of things.. 1) I started part-time. I worked for a large company and took on some database and network consulting for small companies.. 2-10 people. They understood I was available only after work and on weekends. 2) A simple black and white business card is enough Name, address, phone, email, and the words, "technology consultant" or "computer consultant" I had created a simple tri-fold - plain paper, black and white. I printed it at home as needed. When I started, I was speaking to some co-workers. I told them we should all start consulting together. He looked at my tri-fold and said, "I would never hire you off of this." I responded, "Then I guess I wouldn't be working for you. I only work for the people who do hire me." A year later I sent him my full-color, glossy tri-fold. He didn't hire me off that either - although a year later I started doing work for him based mostly on the automation work I do and his knowledge of that. What I mean is that slick typically is unnecessary. It really comes down to both numbers and referrals. Actively work both. 3) Share knowledge and results more than a list of skills I always tell consultants that "The podium and publishing impart credibility". I present workshops and seminars to business groups. I write tutorials and create simple tutorial videos. Not loss-leader, here is part of the knowledge, if you pay me $299 in 3 simple payments I'll give you the rest.. Nope, give away the farm.. Here is why. If there are 10 people at your workshops and 5 of them are technical enough to do it themselves, only 2 will have the gumption or time. That means 8 of them are potential clients and potential referrals. 4) Website and Mailing list So I said earlier you only need a card. That is true.. but, if you want to garner additional marketing benefit and build credibility.. a blog based website.. I recommend and use Wordpress - and a mailing list for distributing your GREAT information.. I use mailchimp for this. If you are unfamiliar, Wordpress is a blogging platform - simple to maintain and update content and some great SEO benefits. Here is a video I did for musicians but it applies in general to wordpress. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDNXL8gfl6U I covered consulting in chapter 18 of my book. All of it is available for free from Pearson/InformIT. http://www.mattmoranonline.com/the-it-career-builders-toolkit/ Chapter 17 covers working from home - so it might be applicable as well. Note: since I was already asked... I create the videos using a FREE version of Debut - I don't know if it is still available. Sometimes I just use screen shots and powerpoint - save the presentation as images, import into MS Movie Maker and narrate over them. This is a great way to provide rapid documentation on key technologies for clients as well. Just a hint. 5) CASE-STUDIES AS SALES TOOLS For every project you do, write up a simple, neatly formatted, 1 page description with the following headings. a) The Client: a brief description of client, industry, and their customer demographic 2) The Challenge: a paragraph or two on what they needed help with 3) The Solution: 4-6 paragraphs on how it was solved 4) The Results: 1-3 paragraphs on how the solution has improved their business, operation, sales, etc. 5) A Call To Action: 1 paragraph inviting comments or questions and your email address. Then, as you build your library of case-studies, any time there is a new potential client, you can offer them a couple case-studies. Give them one on a similar industry and one on a similar technical challenge. Freelancing is an excellent alternative but, for long term profitability, try to make it less accidental, more intentional and planned.

doronweiss
doronweiss

I am a software freelancer for over 16 years. I didn't make the big bucks ! I don't have less stress ! Freedom ? don't even know what it is. But i choose my project, I DO WHAT I LOVE, and i would not change that situation. Freelancing has it's pros and cons. But if you are the right type - and that is something you should consider seriously - freelancing is great

dustale08
dustale08

YOUR FOCUS IS YOUR PROBLEM: Sales must at some point become your focus. Most IT people are not accomplished sales people, or at least that has been my experience. While you cannot spend all of your time selling you should 1.) Visit Local Trade Shows, 2.) Visit all local business - leave a Business card "and" a Brochure. 3.) Send out email newsletters 4.) Build & Give away, simple template websites for friends and family. etc...etc....yes these are the little things, but these little things keep you from going broke or even getting close! If you used even 2 hours dedicated solely to this every week, over the period of a year you would be in a better position to pick and choose clients, charge more efficiently, and to stop being so desperate. So back away from your gardening, your desk, and go out and talk to people, this too is a way to clear your mind, to take a breather, to relax. You don??t have to be pushy just talk to people. Really you must become a business person first and programmer second.

foss.paul
foss.paul

I spent nearly twenty years of that. Stress, clients not paying on time or at all, working locked in a business all night to get the server ready for the morning, all of that. Still I loved it while I was doing it. I totally agree with what was said. Freelancing is a hard work for little money. If you true to yourself and count all the hours you spent with unpaid activities, learning new applications, learning to have degree in psychology without the diploma, because if you want success you have to be darn good in reading people. Plus all the expenses with certification and buying software, hardware the list goes on. Website? What about website, I too have to get one new client through website. People contact, recommendations, all that brought me clients. Nothing else. Advertizing, flyers, emails - nothing. I did get the odd sale of hardware through email mail-out, but hardly worth mentioning. I now can do gardening and have long walks because I retired from IT, but not as a rich man. Still freelancing was fun. Sometimes.

TBaba
TBaba

After 5 years of freelancing, I needed guaranteed regular income to help my family building plans. I got lucky enough to get a permananet job that guarantees regular income without requiring 9am - 5pm availability. My freelancing is now limited to times I'm not at work, but I still get to make extra cash whilst having a steady income. Interesting thing is... I actually make more money from my freelancing/consulting than my permanent job :) As a result I do try to get the best of both worlds!

rAllcorn
rAllcorn

When I started freelancing, it was because I was laid off, after 4 years of service, by Dell Computer corporation. The story is detailed, and has all the scenario of a detective novel and things done by an employer that are ... questionable, but that is another story. I began to study on the various things I'd been working on at Dell, and within a couple of months I was making almost "twice" what I was making at Dell. Don't get me wrong, I liked working at Dell, but when companies get big there are more politics that become a part of the mix than there should be. As a contractor (freelance) I was making good money, thrown into situations and expected to "perform". I learned an awful lot about a wide area of things that you just can't do in a normal job. The pay was excellent! There were usually only a week or so between contracts, giving me time for brush-up, doing some reading (techie stuff), and maybe a night or two at the campsite! It was "great"! Then 9-1-1 hit. Everybody went paranoid, and stopped using IT in many, many areas, slowing down their hiring and projects to a snails pace. Employed IT folks were being let go by the handfuls. These decided, "I'll be a contractor". NO! That's my job! As you can tell, the market quickly became flooded with IT types, and my job became a scramble for financial survival. Things have started to pick back up the past few years, but it's not the same. Companies now try to hire contractors for the same wage as a full-time employee, but that doesn't even make sense! THAT (the extra money) is the reason we're all in business ... we have to pay for our own insurance, our own healthcare, our own study/training/resources, we have to buy our own "techie toys" to do the job ... so we need the extra bucks! We dont' get paid vacations, and there are times when the pickin's are slim, so the extra money is necessary! Used to, I'd say the article is wrong - it was "great" to be a contractor and work freelance!! You had the freedom to make decisions that affected you - your choice. And you didn't have to deal with that sinking feeling you get when you get "fired"! You know the contract is coming to an end. It's routine. The aching feeling of rejection and failure ... you don't have to go there. On the other hand, now? It's not quite what it used to be ... but ... there's hope, and promise. You can make it what you want it to be. It's "dog-eat-dog" out there, but if you really want to stand on the mountain and shout, you've got to be willing to do the climb!

wcdulanyjr
wcdulanyjr

I have always been uneasy about trying to freelance. Not because I felt my skills were lacking, but because I could not see an upside without becoming a sales guy. It is more than just getting a regular pay check, but also a lifestyle change that most people don't have the stomach for in this economy. Granted, if I lost my job I would try it, but only until I could find a permanent job. Thanks again for a nice article.

WinHaven
WinHaven

Great article Susan. Very well thought out. 100% reality in list form :o) I think I've heard every one of these myths from non-freelancers. I have found that it is difficult to explain it to non-freelancers. I think I will print this out - poster size - and hang it on my wall.

huttonp
huttonp

I've been either a contractor, freelancer, or a partner in a business for most of my IT career (more than 20 years). I've been autonomous (i.e. my own boss) for so long that I could never go back to working for a boss again. A long time ago I heard a successful businessperson say that whether you are employed by an organisation, or self-employed, the only security you have is in your ability to provide value, that someone else is prepared to pay for. As organisations continue to innovate, and compete in an ever-more global marketplace, value propositions need to be continually enhanced and refined. There is no such thing as job security any more. Even successful and upwardly mobile IT staff need to be business minded. My take on all of this is, why not do it on my own terms. Truthfully, the most stressful time I experienced was when I was a partner in a services business, and had high overheads to pay and lots of challenges (post-Y2K blues, 9-11, SARS etc). All things considered, the worst day being self-employed is better than the best day working (IMHO). Good luck to you if you're considering freelancing in the future, because the IT industry is progressively moving towards more contracting and freelancing in the future.

p.gygi
p.gygi

IT freelance people are often seriously reclusive, an old trait that goes with the profession, and have a cat for a companion/coworker who refuses to code or do tech writing.

herlizness
herlizness

I don't know why you downplay the "freedom" aspect so much. Being able to set my own working days and hours is a big deal to me and I take full advantage of it. Freedom from stupid, unproductive in-office meetings is another big plus. Freedom from commuting in big-city rush hour trims both stress, fuel bills, repairs and vehicle replacement costs. Freedom from excessive dry-cleaning bills, the "right" wardrobe, and the expense of eating out saves a fair amount of money over time. The long and the short of it is that all of the things I don't have to do make for a more flexible life and better net pay. Not everyone is able to manage this kind of arrangement but it's a pretty good deal for those who can. Once upon a time I missed some of the office camaraderie but something's happened over the years ... something that makes being in most offices five days a week about as pleasant as airport security checks.

alexj
alexj

What a piece of rubbish! The author is a journalist who decided to do some software development, with no background, no fundamental knowledge, and no passion for IT. Really, speak for yourself. Every single point is wrong, except for working long hours. The author should earn more, easier, as a technical writer or a proofreader, and TechRepublic should find better qualified contributors.

itadmin
itadmin

And being a salesman has nothing to do with IT and how well you know and do your job. Some people just seem to have it, regardless of intelligence, and others don't. Maybe it has something to do with being a people's person. This is something most people deciding to freelance don't think about, and they should.

pinnum
pinnum

One reason I'm a freelancer is the opposite of item 2 - I don't want to specialize, I want to learn new things. The idea of chugging along doing the same thing, day in and day out, doesn't appeal to me. Of course, everyone wants to put you in the most narrow box possible based on your most recent experiences, which brings me to my main problem with freelancing - finding enough work to stay busy. I'm not a great salesman, and I don't really like doing it, so I often see people who are less competent with work when I don't have any.

mikejkemp
mikejkemp

You may not work in pajamas, what ever they are, but I bet you sleep in pyjamas! When you are not working, of course! Other than that howler, I enjoyed your thoughts - I have often thought about trying freelancing, if my current job doesn't last I might have to!

stgcs(sw)
stgcs(sw)

Years ago I worked for Sony as a technical support trainer. Many of the original new hires for Sony's PC Support Group were coming from freelancing. When I asked why they were leaving the freedom of working for themselves, to a person the number one answer was that they were tired of fighting customers for payment of services rendered. The number two answer was they wanted to work for an established company with retirement, holiday/vacation, and sick time benefits... where they would be paid on a regular basis without fighting for their paycheck.

fuller.artful
fuller.artful

After 20-odd years in the freelancing game, I agree with your take 100%. I do think that you left a few other bad things out: 1. What freelancer works 40 hours a week or fewer? 2. You're only as good as the weakest link in the chain. Employers have accounting departments and pension advisors. Unless you have those skills or are prepared to pay for them, you're better off as an employee. 3. Employees get paid vacations. Almost every freelancer I know is afraid to take a vacation. 4. Especially nearing the end of a contract, the freelancer is working more hours than usual and is not free to scout for the next gig. This often results in some down-time between gigs. Great piece, Susan!

etepleyferguson
etepleyferguson

Dear Ms. Harkins, I was recently "rightsized" and have rejoined the ranks of the self-employed. I now spend most of my days working from home, and while I appreciated all of the points you made in your post, I couldn't help but notice that one item was left out: obligatory favors to neighbors who know you work from home. In my case, this specifically pertains to dog-sitting. I love my friend's two young Yorkshire terriers, but I do find it slightly annoying when their cacophonous jubilation interrupts a Skype call. This is hard to explain to clients. :-) -Erik Tepley-Ferguson Twitter: @etfism

nonimportantname
nonimportantname

Ultimately, being a master of my own destiny (in some respects, of course) is what's going to drive me to work for myself. I respect people that run their own business for that reason alone.

minstrelmike
minstrelmike

Fact of life is that you are never your own boss. Opening a restaurant means every person who comes thru the door is your new boss. Even Bill Gates or Rupert Murdoch isn't 'in charge' of their own product's popularity. If the fickle public moves elsewhere, their empires go down the drain. We all live in a system and are dependent on other people for everything, even the folks you think of as bosses. Bill Gates is -the- boss when he goes to a restaurant. He is -not- the boss when I shop for software tho.

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

1: Freelancers make the big bucks Probably not. But I've certainly done no worse that I would have as an employee. 2: Freelancers can specialize They can. Some do. I have somewhat, but not completely. 3: Freelancers are their own bosses Yes and now. You are correct that ultimately, you have to answer to your clients. But at least you have the option of telling them to go to hell. 4: Freelancers accomplish more! The truth is, freelancers accomplish more because we work more. Unfortunately, all those hours aren???t billable. True enough! 5: Freelancers are happier because they???re doing what they love Nobody loves every part of their job, and freelancing is no different. But I love it enough, or I love enough parts of it enough. 6: Freelancers work in their pajamas True. Or less! 7: Freelancers have more freedom Absolutely true! I get to plan my week the way I want to. I get to run errands in the middle of the day and do charity work. Of course, this is all at the expense of working evenings and some weekends, but it's a fair trade. I'll take freedom any day. 8: Freelancers have less stress Not true. It can be quite stressful knowing that everything all the time is up to you. 9: You need a Web site Nope. Have one. Spent 10 minutes on it. Pretty sure it hasn't been responsible for any new business. (Almost all of my business is by referral) But it's there in case someone who hears about me wants to see if I really exist. 10: Freelancers can sleep in Absolutely, but it's at the expense of working evenings. (Most of my clients live to the west of me)

patwashburn
patwashburn

Health insurance is the real problem for me. I don't mind freelancing and contracting, but lack of access to affordable health care means I'm searching for a permanent job.

ssharkins
ssharkins

Thanks for taking the time to share your experience!

ssharkins
ssharkins

Finding new clients is always in the back of mind -- I find opportunities everywhere.

ssharkins
ssharkins

I lost 100 of my clients in the dot must in the late 90s. Lost about 70% after 911. That's why constantly renewing clients is so important.

ssharkins
ssharkins

I think some freelancers enjoy some of these benefits. A few might enjoy them all. It's a mix and folks will gravitate toward projects that provide what they really need -- and it isn't always these benefits that freelancers want!

ssharkins
ssharkins

I have more freedom than a traditional employee. I volunteer every week and I have grandchildren in and out as needed (and wanted). But, I also have deadlines to meet and clients to respond to. So, while I can take an unexpected day off -- just as traditional employees sometimes call in sick -- I still have people who depend on me to be available. That's really all I meant by that. No one ties me to my chair, but if I'm not available when needed, the clients will find someone who is. It's not all that different from any other job.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

is she likes access. :p Are you saying we should believe the other 9 points?

ssharkins
ssharkins

I think you're right on this point -- freelancers probably do have more opportunities to learn new skills. Traditional employers have specific needs and you fill them -- they don't really care about your personal druthers. :)

djkr
djkr

Mike: "pajamas" is a recognised alternative spelling to "pyjamas", now chiefly used in the USA. See the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary - that's the Oxford near you - Sixth Edition, amongst others.

ssharkins
ssharkins

I often work less than 40 hours a week, but it's a choice. I use to work tons of hours freelancing. My kids are grown and we've downsized 3 times since 2004 -- on purpose. Our financial needs are different -- on purpose. I don't have the same responsibilities, that's all. I can cut back, so I have.

ssharkins
ssharkins

I love yorkies -- send them my way. :) You don't have to be a freelancer to be taken advantage of by the neighbors!

Stephen Wheeler
Stephen Wheeler

The neighbors have up sides and down sides. At one point, I found myself doing so many favors for people that I was doing things I intended to do at 8:30 a.m. ... at 08:30 p.m. This is a slippery slope - the more you do, the more people assume it is okay to ask. If you have marketing, cold calling and sales to do this tends to mean you think you can flex your day round filling the favor bank - result: low productivity. When you're Jack of all trades and Master of none (or, at least, Master of nothing making money ... ) doing the odd favor becomes a trap that will stop you making a business. This is another reason why I still try and work on-site whenever possible. It doesn't just help me with my work discipline - it helps everybody else with my work discipline too!

ssharkins
ssharkins

I think people in traditional employment can do this too -- just differently. I find the shock of losing a traditional position and the work involved in finding a new one most unpleasant. I especially don't like having my workday tied to policies and personalities that I find difficult to work with. Only been lucky enough to find that type of traditional employment once -- The Cobb Group. An outstanding environment with good people, for the most part. But, they moved to Timbucktu... so even when things seem ideal, there's still that other shoe... I'm not saying that I'd never return to traditional employment, but I'm not looking right now. :)

ssharkins
ssharkins

Some of you must have skipped the article's introduction! ;) Freelancing is GREAT! I know a few freelancers who are making a ton of money, I know one in particular who often skips work and bicycles up the coast of California! ;) To be happy and successful there has to be a meeting of expectations and reality -- that's all!

ssharkins
ssharkins

I'd like to hear from contractors/freelancers who've actually done this -- just walked away from a project in the middle. Lots of us choose to not work with a particular client again, so that doesn't count. :) I'd like to hear from anyone who's just walked away. Tell us why and if there were any reprecussions -- good and bad. I can't recall having ever done it.

oldbaritone
oldbaritone

That's another one of those "expenses" - and it can be 20-25 grand a year or more. It's partially deductible now; used to be that self-employed had to pay for health insurance with after-tax money, making it even more expensive because you have to earn enough more to pay the income tax on the 20-25 grand that never made it to your pocket. And of course there's more SE tax on the health insurance AND the extra income tax... it never ends.

ssharkins
ssharkins

Providing health insurance for yourself and your family is a huge issue for freelancers and can consume a huge portion of your monthly revenue! I know there are business-related strategies -- incorporating for instance -- that are supposed to help, but for the individual, I think they have almost no impact. I'm lucky. Health insurance comes with my husband's retirement, but for many years, we just did without -- we were incredibly lucky in that we were healthy and just didn't require a doctor often and that when we did, we had the money to cover it. Many freelancers have spouses in traditional employment with health benefits. Another great topic -- perhaps others will offer some insight!

ssharkins
ssharkins

I love Access, but I'm not using near as much these days. :( In fact, I just had a discussion with a group of database developers and almost all are experiencing a downtrend in the use of Access. Too bad. :(

etepleyferguson
etepleyferguson

Perhaps we should start contracting not only IT services, but also dog-sitting services? :-)

dustale08
dustale08

I have said this: Dear Client I want to thank you for your using my services, however you have misunderstood my business/service model. Therefore I am longer able to continue to provide you with my services. Please feel free to look for assistance with another webmaster!

Matthew Moran
Matthew Moran

Many years ago we had a client who argued every bill, paid slowly, and constantly complained about one thing or another. I had a tech onsite, we had a discussion about his 3 outstanding invoices, etc. His response was so frustrating to me that I put him on hold, called our tech, and told him to leave immediately. I then got back on the phone, told him we were done and there would be no more discussions about the matter. He threatened suing - I wasn't concerned, he didn't. We gave him all the necessary passwords and a document describing where things were - as far as work performed and to be done... He was out of business 14 months later the choice was a good one. The most recent was a decent client but inflexible in their billing and payment. I typically have a pay upon receipt policy, they have a "billing process" that often resulted in 30-45 days and told me that larger companies work this way. They weren't larger company and I've done work for Northrop Grumman, HealthNet, and BofA and still been paid in 10 days.. so I told them... "Your billing process has made me disinterested in the project." At this point in my career, clients need to be people and projects I enjoy.

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

...but I've walked before and after. Usually "the middle" implies that there's some form of contract involved, so to walk away cleanly would also imply a mutual agreement between the contractor and contractee.

dustale08
dustale08

It woke up my client to the fact that I took my work serious and that I was not interested solely in taking his money. He has since then been more gracious, realizing that I would walk if it was not a win win.

ssharkins
ssharkins

Did you regret doing it or was it a good move on your part?

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

I've heard that one more than a few times. I usually laugh, and then alter my rates to reflect the cost to me that it takes to accommodate such a policy. When questioned about this, I retort "And big companies pay more". Either people pay willingly, or they don't. If they don't, they aren't worth being your client. This is one of the most difficult lessons independents need to learn.

dustale08
dustale08

You make a good point, whenever possible, people and projects must be enjoyable, otherwise you are just wasting time, yours and theirs.

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