Adivce to Freelancers

There are many advice books on how to start a business, but I don’t see many on how to be a freelancers per se. One of the biggest things is dealing with clients. When you are working in an office, you get to know the people you work with. You learn about them. You know their politics, their joys, their dislikes.

It’s a bit different working by yourself, rarely seeing your clients in person, mostly talking on the phone or via email. Oh, occasionally I’ll go to their office for the day and chat, but not for more than that.

So, advice is good. Laura Laaman writes a great column in the San Jose Business Journal called “Mind your Business” which discusses just little things, things that matter, and I think they are important for anyone, including freelancers. Last issue she wrote about sales people who were willing to go the extra mile. Other times she has written about how “being cute” is not the way to do business.

The reason I bring her up, is that recently she wrote about how you should avoid talking about “Sex, God and Politics” with your clients. This is similar to the old adage that you should only talk about the weather when you are talking small talk. She suggests that you never bring up the “forbidden” subjects and turn the conversation another way if the topic does come up.

I do the opposite, and I haven’t had any problems, but perhaps its because of where I live. Even conservatives are on the liberal side in the Santa Cruz
and greater San Francisco Bay Area. (As Nina Paley said in one her comic strips about how she was conservative in Santa Cruz and liberal in Normal, Ill) In fact, I find that two of my Santa Cruz clients love to talk politics, and fortunately, I agree with them.

But I will talk Laaman’s words to heart, for people who I’m not sure about.

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