If I had $1 for every time a client – prospective, new or regular – called or emailed me and said, “Ha ha [insert sheepish laugh], this little job is quite urgent, ha ha, but it won’t take you long, ha ha…” I’d retire. So the question is, What to do as a freelancer when everything’s urgent…?
Luckily for you, I believe in sharing my latent rage via tongue-in-cheek tips. So here are 6 ways to handle it when everyone wants everything yesterday:
You can build in an urgency surcharge. I do this when I want to tackle the project or score the new client but I’ll undoubtedly have to pull a weekender, a late-nighter or a re-shuffle of other work.
You can prepare new clients for the fact that, because you’re good and your work is in demand, you’re seldom available at short notice. I do this too, and 90% of my regulars now understand it and work around it. However, I do have to make it quite clear in that first meet-and-greet.
You can make a special plan for regulars or big clients. There are about 6 people/companies who could call me at midnight and I’ll hop to whatever it is for the next day. Out of loyalty.
You can out-source (which, in fact, I almost never do). I have a full-time support person, but even she can’t do work at short notice because a) we’re both pretty busy and b) short notice doesn’t give me time to get a signature and a 50% deposit. [Ed: One day, perhaps I’ll write a scathing piece on ‘What to do as a freelancer when a brand-new client baulks at paying a 50% deposit’…]
Don’t be known as s/he who answers calls after hours, works on weekends or pulls rabbits out of hats every time. You’ll be abused. Indeed, if you make a plan for a special client, KEEP. IT. QUIET.
Just say No.
You can say No. Just…No. I did this recently, because the client’s side of the conversation went like this: “Thanks for your quote. But – two weeks for website copy? What can be done to fast-track this? I’ll need it within four working days, starting tomorrow. Seriously. I’m happy to pay more, but besides money, what can I do, specifically, to make you work faster?” I actually didn’t know what he meant. Was he offering even more money? (If only.) A massage? (Yech.) Sexual favours? (No.) Who knows? I said No.
Now that I think about it, I also need to rant about the ubiquitous “It won’t take you longer than an hour…” and “I would do it myself…” But I urgently need to stop writing. Goodbye. See you next time.
* This post originally appeared on freelancentral.co.za.