During a time of unemployment, some individuals make finding a full-time job into their main pursuit. After putting in long hours and hard work, something ultimately comes through and the task is done. Then there are those people who work for themselves. While freelancing allows great latitude and more control over what you do and the time you spend doing it, it also confines you within the realm of constantly seeking out work and renegotiating your terms of employment. There is more job security, as you control your own destiny, so to speak, being your own boss and in charge of seeking out new projects. And yet, there is less security, for there is no way of telling how long that lag between the end of a project and the beginning of a new one will be. Read on for a list of negotiating tips, so that you can ensure you get the most out of your freelancing experience.
Write it Down
First and foremost, whenever you negotiate a contract with an employer, be absolutely sure to put all terms down in writing. If you instead opt to commit to something verbally, you run the risk of having an employer change the terms on you, or conveniently remembering them in a different way. Write it down, and should troubles arise, you can take your documents to a third party and settle the problem accordingly.
Agree to a Price Upfront
When you discuss project details with an employer, it’s important to discuss compensation at the outset. Don’t wait until you’re halfway through the job to bring it up – by that point you might already be too embroiled in the work to easily get out of it if an employer refuses to compensate you properly. And never, under any circumstances, hand over work without first agreeing on the value of your efforts. If you turn over your work without first setting a price, you turn over all power.
Set a Date
Negotiate a date on which you will be paid in full – and write this down in the original contract. That way, you hold an employer accountable, and if they fail to hold up their end of the bargain, you can pursue the next necessary course of action. If you don’t set a date, you give the employer the opportunity to continue pushing off payment later and later, which keeps you in a state of limbo and prolongs an already unhealthy business relationship.
Procure a Retainer Fee
After you have set a price and a pay date, require that your employer pay you a retainer fee. This is an amount of money that an employer pays you upfront in order to secure your services. Even once you draw up a contract with an employer, you can still run into a tricky situation at the end of your business relationship: your employer may claim that you did not live up to the terms of your end of the bargain, or may lack the finances to pay out to you in the end. A retainer fee ensures that you do see at least some of the money for your work, regardless of your employer’s funds or their opinion on the quality of your work.
Understand the Time Commitment
It’s important to have as thorough understanding of the project as possible, at least to a point where you know how much time you will be spending on it. Why? Several reasons. Some people may wish to negotiate pay based on an hourly rate. If you originally underestimate how much time a project will take you, it may be difficult to go back and convince your employer of the time that the work actually took, and of how much you truly deserve to be paid. It’s also imperative to know how much time you need to devote to the project so that you manage your time well. Getting the work in on time is built into your part of the contract, and failure to do so may delay or nullify payment. Finally, understanding time constraints can be helpful so that you can convey this information to the employer. If you establish exactly how long you will be spending on a project with an employer beforehand, you can avoid having them demand superfluous work or hours from you throughout the process.
Understand the Project
A nice segue from the discussion on time commitment, you must understand the project you are undertaking, and so should your employer. If you are asked to complete one thing, make sure that this is the thing that you deliver in the end. This will help keep you on track, as well as lessen the likelihood that an employer will claim that you did not provide the work you were supposed to, thus ensuring that you don’t run into unnecessary issues when it comes to getting your paycheck.
Freelancing can be tricky – more often than not, you don’t have someone else advocating on your behalf, and there are many uncertainties that you run into working for a new employer every few days, weeks, or months. But freelancing can also be a lot of fun. Who doesn’t like being their own boss and changing the scenery every now and then? Just follow these simple guidelines and enjoy the ride!
Until next time,
The Doostang Team