Friday, April 30, 2010

To all my dear fellow freelance - ians: DO NOT DO THIS

Oh my dear, precious freelancers -

After a recent particularly awful calligraphy client experience, I wanted to just put this out there, so you never make the same mistake I did. There is just one rule when it comes to freelance: never negotiate your price. Why, do you ask? This merits a story.

I recently got an calligraphy inquiry (We'll call her Melissa) that was very interested in having me do a job for her. Then I did not hear from her for a while, and when I followed up with her, she said that due to budget restrictions, she could not do $1.00 per outer envelope, instead could only afford $0.75 per outer envelope. I did the math, and it was actually a decent amount of money, less the quarter. So I said yes.

Well, fast forward to the consultation, and surprise! Melissa thought that the outer envelope price also included writing the return address on the back of the envelope, which she neglected to mention in her email. In the past, all of the brides I have had always had their return address embossed when they have ordered the envelope, or not had it at all. Clearly, Melissa did not want to pay for that, either. So I explained to her that I would do the return address for an additional $0.50 per envelope, which was a mistake, but I was put on the spot.

That's not the end of the surprise! She also needed RSVP cards done. Now, come on - there's really no excuse for not mentioning that in the email, either. So since those were just the same address over and over again, I said I would do them for $0.50 each, also. So, we agreed that I would get $1.75 total per set.

I get the invitations, head over to Blick to get some pretty white ink for her navy envelopes, and a new quill and holder because I'd have to dip the pen every time I used it: white ink does not come in cartridge form or markers because of its opacity.

So I'm all excited to get started, and then I get a phone call. Melissa. She was on her way home, and was calculating the total, and decided it was too much money. If I was able to do the RSVP and the return address for $0.50, why couldn't I do the outer envelope for $0.50, too? So she wanted HALF my usual price. So on a job that I should have earned probably around $3 per set, I was now making $1.50. And she wanted them done in two weeks.

So, because of the sheer volume, I did make a good amount of money. However, my hand is still about to fall off and I'm now heading over to get the envelopes again (after dropping them off this morning) to fix 3 addresses that were wrong. What can we learn from this?

* Never negotiate your price, no matter how not-big-a-deal it may seem. This seemingly harmless adjustment will just lead to further complications later.

* You have experience doing what you do, and have determined a fair - if not underpriced - rate. They should respect that or take their business elsewhere.

* Above all else, don't second guess yourself. You are talented enough to have your own business and interested clients, there's no reason for you to want to get paid for it.

So get out there, kick ass and take names!!

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