[thelist] Fulltime to freelance

Randal Rust randalrust at gmail.com
Tue Nov 25 07:28:49 CST 2008

On Tue, Nov 25, 2008 at 5:42 AM, Kevin Mulvihill <kmulvihill at ca.rr.com> wrote:

> Look even at the title of this thread: Fulltime to freelance. What are we
> suggesting here... that freelance isn't full time? It's all a misconception.

I like the point that you make here, Kevin, and it got me to wondering
why my opinion on this topic seems to differ so much from everyone
else's. I think it's because I don't consider myself a freelancer. I
run a business. I intend to continue to grow that business, secure
more contracts and hire employees.

> I don't have any clients that pay me by the hour. They've all got budgets
> for projects.

<snip />

> I know I don't want to pay for someone to sit around a
> kitchen table drinking a cup of coffee and reading the paper while they
> subconsciously ponder my project. I think all clients have that fear.

Ah, there it is. The biggest difference, in my opinion, between
running a business and being a freelancer. I worked in consulting for
more than a decade. First in engineering and then in IT. The one thing
that I learned was that in order to have a stable business model, you
must have contracts in place with clients. It creates stability for
you, and it creates stability for them. They don't have to worry about
whether or not you (or one of your staff) is available to help them
out in a pinch. And, quite frankly, our clients *do* want us sitting
around thinking about their project. Why? Because we are constantly
developing new ideas and strategies for each and every one of them in
regards to getting the most out of their websites. They understand
that and they appreciate that. But again, this is part of running a

> Being professional means sucking it up and taking the hit when you've made a
> mistake. Learn from it. You'll get better at estimating over time.

That is spot on. And you also have to be prepared for those times when
a client questions your estimate. That's always fun.

> Scope creep is a fear that freelancers have because they don't want to
> confront over it. Scope should be defined clearly and specifically.

I agree with this point, but scope creep is inevitable when you are
dealing with non-technical people. And really even when you are
dealing with technical people. Over time, you will be able to identify
areas where scope creep will occur and build that into your estimate
ahead of time. However, this is also where maintenance contracts are
helpful. I am willing to do a little more work for less up front
knowing that I have a long-term contract in place. In the long run,
I'll come out on top and have a stronger relationship with the client.

> Maybe I'm lucky, but ALL my clients understand that there comes a time when
> things have changed enough to warrant a discussion about more cash.

It's inevitable.

> Being nice to people, being professional, and being committed to good work
> goes a long way.

Around here, the mantra is: work hard, charge a fair price, don't be
afraid to admit you don't know everything and produce quality
end-products. I firmly believe that if we stick to that, the business
will be just fine. It's worked for 10 years and we do most of our
business through word of mouth and partnerships we've built with other
service agencies.

Randal Rust
R.Squared Communications

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