Diane Hall - The Frazzled Freelancer

Freelancer, Entrepreneur and mother of two...

Adapting and changing in the freelance world

Peaks and troughs; adapting and changing; motivation and perspiration – all part and parcel of a freelancer’s life.

It has been a tough couple of months for me – and I think, for most – but seeds are being sown, interest is increasing and word of mouth is progressing as tentative whispers.

There’s no doubt, if you read this column regularly enough, that I’ve been finding freelancing hard and uninspiring lately. Once Christmas was out of the way I was buoyed up with plans and drive but I didn’t imagine that others would ease themselves into January at a snail’s pace. So, a slow month and an incident which knocked my confidence, unfortunately, took its toll.

I pride myself, that in the three years I’ve been freelancing (both part-time and full-time) I’ve always received glowing praise from my clients.

Sloughened and self-pitiful

A new client recently came along who wanted their web copy re-written. They’d merged with another company who offered similar services and they wanted one website depicting the best of the new business. For weeks I waited for a brief – for one, I like to have, in black and white, just what the client is expecting (even if just a paragraph or two), and two, I was unsure what services the new, reformed business was keeping and which they were discarding.

After a while, it became clear that I would have been waiting for this brief until armageddon, so I suggested I put together a rough draft of what I imagined the new company would look like, just so that the client could quickly dissect what had to stay and what needed to go – as well as seeing the proposed writing style.

“Great, I like it,” they said, happily, on receipt. “I’ll have to run it past other colleagues, though.” No problem, I said. A few days later I received a curt message saying the draft was too ‘rough’. “It has to be perfect for our firm,” they stated.

I tried reiterating it was what it was – a draft – but it was clear I’d lost the client. I could (and, probably, should) have charged for my time but I doubt they’d have paid my bill.

I focused intently on this series of events for days and it affected the way I promoted myself. I doubted I was good at what I did and even found myself checking out the Jobcentre website – not that there was any solace there.

Who loves ya’ baby?

This self-pitying cloud, thankfully, started to clear; a couple of my long-standing clients gave me some great feedback to other work I had done and I began to focus on the percentage of my clients whom are satisfied to the ones that weren’t – all one of them.

It made me realise that, though situations don’t alter, how we think about them and what we take from the experience is vital. Chalking this episode up to experience didn’t make the client run back to me but my change of attitude stopped it affecting the rest of my business and freelancing work.

As January draws to a close, new opportunities are sparking which make me feel more motivated that things will work out well. It seems to be, the more positive I feel, the more I can make the best of a situation and the more I can spot an opportunity or benefit from it too.

It’s not always about you

You can’t change how other people act – but you can change how you REACT. As long as you know you’ve done your very best and aimed to please the customer – which, as a freelancer, is a requisite – your clients’ perceptions of your work cannot be controlled. Therefore, don’t automatically assume the problem is with you.

Word of mouth is important for a freelancer but I’d bet for every one unruly, difficult-to-please client, you’ve ten more in the wings who’d sing your praises all day long. That’s what you need to remind yourself every now and again.

If you get clients returning to you, that’s praise enough, because if they were unhappy with your service they’d make sure they used another freelancer.

Focus on the good stuff. Listen to the bad, and if there’s something you can change or improve on – great! But sometimes, you just have to let things go.

The dictionary definition of the word ‘experience’ is: ‘knowledge gained by seeing and doing’. Amen to that.

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Written by Editor on January 28, 2011 and filed in Frazzled Freelancer, Freelancers, Opinion ,

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