Advice that is simple and not useless

There was a debate on one of my email list about books that were useful. I’m not really going to name the useless ones, but I noticed, in the talk, that a lot of the information could be found anywhere.

And yet, there are those who need those books, who don’t know these things.

There are those who open shop, and don’t have a sign outside saying what sort of shop they are (there were two in my area that did that. One finally put up cardboard signs (it was a mortgage company. Don’t think that would raise my confidence). and the other still hasn’t put up a sign.) I suppose they are a knickknack shop, but I couldn’t say for sure.

And as a freelancer, there are similar things you should and shouldn’t do.

  • Don’t burn your client. Ever! If you can’t make a deadline, let them know the minute you know you can’t make a deadline. If you don’t, you are screwing not only your client, but your client’s client, and who knows how many other people you are putting off. If you talk to them, at least you can find out if the deadline was solid, or if it was drop-dead.

  • Don’t miss deadlines. see above. If someone asks if you can make a deadline, and you know you can’t, suggest an alternative. Sometimes client’s don’t know how long something is going to talk. With printing jobs, you can always work backwards. Web stuff is a little trickier. There are only a few all-nighters you can pull in a week.
  • Don’t burn your clients by charging them for work that wasn’t done. I have run into at least three clients, recently, who have paid to have work done, and then the designer didn’t follow through, or wanted to charge more when the situation hadn’t changed, or who knows what was up. In fact, I wrote about this before, one former designer contacted one of my clients, whom she had burned, and wondered why she hadn’t asked her firm to do the new website I had just put up. Some people don’t get it.
  • If you have to file a change-order, do so the moment you know the situation has changed. I often forget to do this, and when the job is done, the client doesn’t want to know that the job has gone up in price. You need to let them know the minute you have gone over budget. Explain why. Say if there are more rounds of changes. Say if the document was longer, or the website had more pages, or forms, or back-end programming. Explain, and they will either say, “Oh, I guess I don’t need that,” or “Please, go ahead, and let me know how much more it will be.”

I would list more, but I’m in the middle of a tight deadline, which I had to file a change-order on, and pull all-nighters for, and I have to get back to work. :)

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