Freelance Heroes

Hi, and welcome to the "Freelance Heroes" thread, a place where Articulate Freelancers help each other. Got a question about freelancing? Or perhaps you have an e-learning asset that may be valuable to those "doin' their own thing"? This is the place to share--to give.

To start things off, I'd like to share a short list of questions that help me figure out what kind of training a potential client wants. (So often they have no idea what they want.) The list is far from exhaustive, but may be of some help. Looking forward to meeting you. --Daniel  

1296 Replies
Bruce Graham

Useful article that I spotted today - http://freelancefolder.com/5-economic-trends-that-affect-freelancers/

Some gems in there.

Question - do you reduce your fee in economically hard times as everyone seems to be looking at cost, or increase it to show you are more than those who have just entered the field because of circumstance and desperation?

Bruce

Sheila Cole-Bulthuis

Interesting article, Bruce, thanks for sharing!  Now I have a new blog to follow.  J

Good reminders about a few things, including: “While you may think that returning to a traditional job is more “secure,” remember that there are no guarantees. Even traditional employees are losing their positions.”  I was just talking about this with someone the other day; once you have an established freelance/consulting business, your job security is just as good as most people with a “regular job” – your income is usually less stable, but there’s almost always at least some income.

Like the author of the article, I have also noticed a lot of people jumping into freelancing, often with very low hourly rates.  I use this as part how I explain the value I provide: I am more expensive than those people (in some cases, a lot more!) but I have a track record of juggling multiple projects, dealing effectively with clients, and producing high-quality work; and there’s no risk that I’m going to abandon a project halfway through because I found full-time employment. 

And Daniel, thanks for starting this thread – I’m thinking about what I can share that might be useful/helpful to others!

Bruce Graham

Do not be scared to say "No!", but learn how to do so assertively...

I have recently got into a situation where the client's client changed the requirement 99% of the way through the project, mostly because of their own processes and systems.

The client then asked me to quote for something, which frankly, I did not want to touch. Not only would it have caused me a world of pain but would also have done so for the associate/subcontractor that I am also using. My first job in this situation is to protect them, then me.

As a freelancer, although the money is sometimes good, you need to learn how to protect your position and the position of those on who you rely in your network. Sometimes this means "qualifying out" an opportunity, (sales-speak for saying "No - and here's why...").

This can be a bittr pill to swallow, but your future success will rely on a mixture of your business sense, and your integrity. Someone you speak assertively to will, in most cases, respect you more in the long-term than one who knows they can guide your every movement to their personal advantage.

Bruce

Daniel Brigham

Bruce: Your post reminds of Eckart Tolle's "high quality no." Basically, saying "no" with no negativity.

This reminds me of a point Holly made in our other Freelancing thread. Something like, once you figure where you want to go as a freelancing hero, you have to start saying no. I've turned down three gigs lately...and you know what, it feels good. Going down a path means you can't go down others.

Using the "high quality no" also, as you suggest, heightens your value in the eyes of others. --Daniel

Bruce Graham

Daniel Brigham said:

Bruce: Your post reminds of Eckart Tolle's "high quality no." Basically, saying "no" with no negativity.

This reminds me of a point Holly made in our other Freelancing thread. Something like, once you figure where you want to go as a freelancing hero, you have to start saying no. I've turned down three gigs lately...and you know what, it feels good. Going down a path means you can't go down others.

Using the "high quality no" also, as you suggest, heightens your value in the eyes of others. --Daniel


Hi Daniel.

Have never come across this before, however, I did learn it from a wonderful Life Coach I spent some time with a few years back.

Her name was Nancy Paul - her book was "The right to be you".

Cheers.

Bruce

Helena Froyton

Hi All,

Ok, here is my question:

You have just found a new gig and this new project has landed on your lap.  What are the first documents that you create to protect you and your new client from any future problems you may encounter? What are the documents you sent him/her in order to find out more about his project needs, requirements and scope of project?  ( examples:  agreement of service)   It would be great if you could share some of these with me.  Thank you.

Daniel Brigham

Hi, Helena:

Want problems do you anticipate? That's always good to know. A few questions/points on this large question.

1. Regarding content, what problems is the lack of training causing now?

2. Why do the learners have this lack of knowlege? Do they not have the right information? Are they not really motivated to use what they already now?

3. How long should each lesson be? That's huge for me--narrowing down how long each lesson will be.

4. You may want to discuss with the client what happens if they keep you waiting for content--i.e., blow deadlines. I tell them politely that if that happens, they move down my list of priorities. That is a problem freelancers run into fairly frequently.

I've attached a few other questions that help me get my mind around what to build for the client.

 Perhaps someone else will weigh in on this topic of audience analysis. I know there are so many questions to be asked at the beginning. So many that they are hard to put in a list without your eyes glazing over. --Daniel

Holly MacDonald

Helena - you need to have a "terms of reference" or "statement of work" which outlines what you are agreeing to and what they are agreeing to. I don't have any contractual items that I can share (most are drawn up by the client).

The things that I have seen sideline projects are:

  • Sketchy Analysis - make sure you find out if there are any technical restraints, so I like to include some kind of conversation with their tech folks/LMS administrator. If you are planning on having youtube videos and the org blocks access, that kind of thing. Or the company has IE std and you usually use Firefox, you want to know that up front.
  • Assumed Reporting requirements - if there are learner/course reports that are required find out up front what they are (actually that's a good way to frame most projects, compliance related or not).
  • SME misses review schedule which throws all of your downstream milestones off. Be vigilant in documentation with this when you can (reviews will be completed in xx days) and make it easy for them to complete the review. Also specify what you are looking for: content, spelling, instructional activity, etc.
  • Too many SME's want to sign off and you are developing a course by committee - specify who reviews and who signs off

I'm sure there are others, but those are the things that jump to my mind. Is that what you were looking for?

Hope that helps,

Holly

Helena Froyton

Holly,

Thank you for the information you sent me.  My project is in a much smaller scale.  It is just me and my boss, who is interested in having training videos accompany a course that I current teach students face-to-face.  I want to avoid having any problems, so I am trying to see what kind of a documentation is out there that would fulfill my needs.  It would be great to have some kind of  a sample.

Bruce,

Thank you for the info. on QA milestones!  I agree with you that it is very important.

Holly MacDonald

Helena, I would say that the same things mostly apply (it's just more complicated and there are more players AND factors to consider on bigger projects).

Maybe a RASCI chart is all you need? I've attached a template that you can use.

Basically it puts together kind of an accountability matrix:

Responsible

Accountable

Support

Consult

Inform

With a Gantt chart (when) to keep on track. I've used it internally, so thought it might be more of what you are looking for?

Sheila Cole-Bulthuis

Here's a document I've used in the past, when I worked in a corporate L&D function - we used it with our internal clients.  It’s just the template, and it’s ugly – I had to strip out the background because it had the company logo on it so now it’s just sad and plain.  BUT – I do think it has good “categories” of info that you should document and agree on before beginning a project.

Helena, if this is helpful, let me know and I can find a sample and sanitize it for you so you can see one that’s completed.

Helena Froyton

Hi  Daniel,

Thank you for the questions you provided me with.  They are very helpful.

Hi Rebecca,

Thanks a lot of the blog!

Hi Holly,

I really like the RASCI Chart!  I am definitely using it.

Hi Sheila,

Thank you so much for the strategy you sent me.  Yes, it is very helpful.  It would be great if I could see a completed sample of it.  I like the selected categories