Diane Hall - The Frazzled Freelancer

Freelancer, Entrepreneur and mother of two...

How much control do you aim for in your freelance career?

Do you care about your customers, or do you just see them as cash-cows?

I doubt any freelancer would answer ‘yes’ to the latter half of this question.  However, what happens when you no longer have direct control over the work offered to your clients – through employing a member of staff, or outsourcing overflow work to other freelancers?

When you’re just a number

I’ve been without internet in my office for 25 days now and each time I phone Britain’s biggest telephone provider I get the distinct impression I’m a minion – just a number and that I’m only there to service the company, not the other way round.

The company is so vast with numerous internal departments that the left hand doesn’t know what the right one is doing.  Because there’s no continuity, there seems little care; no one’s bothered that I’m running an online business offline and no one seems in a rush to put it right.

Is this due to their size?  Is it because they have no idea how to run a company – surely, if this was the case they wouldn’t be ‘Britain’s biggest telephone provider’? Would you agree that size mattersthat once you get others involved, you lose control over the quality of work sent out?

Control freaky

I have outsourced work to other freelancers before in busy periods but always insisted that they return the work to me, not directly to the customer.  That way, I can edit the piece to my standards – standards my regular clients are happy and comfortable with.

My control freak persona is perhaps in play here as I suspect many freelancers don’t mind if trusted providers go direct.  Should you be worried?  After all, it’s your reputation on the line.

Is your growth stunted?

If this does worry you – would you only ever remain a one-man band?  Would this fact alone prevent you from growing your freelancing business and taking on staff?  With growth like this, surely you can’t remain in control of all areas, all the time?

It still puzzles me how the provider of my internet got to be so big – at some point, they must have made more effort to provide a fantastic service for their customer.  As I talk to other business people, no one seems to ever rate them.  Perhaps, to them at least, we have all become walking cash cows.

There was a point last year where I was run off my feet and considered enrolling an apprentice or a part-time member of staff, rather than constantly sending things to freelance friends and delaying deadlines even further.  However, I was adamant that any employee would work from my office and not from home, simply so that I could control their output, the quality of their work and provide them with instant support and direction, should they have needed it.  In the end, I didn’t need the extra help as the workload became manageable.

How much control do you aim for in your freelancing career?  Do you see elements of yourself in my story, or am I just (as I suspect) an over-the-top control freak?

I’d be very interested to hear your views.

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Written by Alistair Beech on March 20, 2011 and filed in Frazzled Freelancer, Freelancers, Opinion , , , ,

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