Why do freelancers and customers often see each other as idiots

    I was lucky: I visited both sides of the barricades and now I know what and how the customer does on projects of different levels and what the freelancer does to get or fail such a project. As a result, I am sure that 95% of freelancers speak a different language with the customer .

    Caution, butthurt.

    For example, in a typical case, the performer tries to show the quality of his work, win at the expense of cost, or otherwise demonstrate that he is the best in his field for his remuneration. The customer does not need the best at all: he needs a person who will solve the problem correctly and accurately, as he wants. And so that the first time. No stocks. No reminders.

    Nobody needs even yesterday’s insanely tasty pizza.

    The concept of professionalism

    From the point of view of a freelancer, professionalism is an incredible ability, confirmed by the portfolio. From the customer’s point of view, professionalism is a stable, repeatable, predictable result within a stable time frame. Since we are talking about business, not about ballet, each task has a clear link to the deadline and is built into larger processes. It is not independent and not self-sufficient. It often happens that even if the solution is many times steeper than planned, but with a delay of a day, it can simply be gently lowered into the trash.

    The customer ideally wants to know that:
    • Everything will be on time and not a second later.
    • The contractor has sufficient competence to do everything as it should (the question of the worst works in the portfolio is yes, the assessment is based on average and poor works as examples of level differences with good ones).
    • The contractor will think about the task, and not about the implementation features.
    • The result will not need to be checked (!).
    The best characteristic of a freelancer that I heard from a major customer was very specific: “Call him at 11, you say, you need to make up. He says - ok, at 17.25 it will be ready. At 5.20 p.m. you check your mail - everything there is completely ready in perfect form. ” The customer didn’t care how the browser compatibility problem was specifically resolved, how well the document was valid, and so on: he only had enough knowledge that the person was doing everything more or less correctly - and, most importantly, that he would be able to show the site at negotiations in the evening. Even if the contractor suddenly slackens, it will be fixed later and will not affect the project.

    On the other hand, situations of this kind are not uncommon: “We have two designers in mind: one is brilliant, but always breaks the deadlines, and the second just does the task efficiently and the first time: of course, we work with the second, otherwise the print run will be delayed.”

    Artist selection

    Freelancers (and, by the way, those who apply for a specific vacancy or are trying to win a tender) have a terrible mortal sin, namely, reluctance to make an offer for the task. It is worth telling the customer how the work on his project will go. Explain why exactly you are suitable for solving this particular problem. Attach a portfolio that demonstrates the skills that are needed on the project (but not all at once).

    Customers have another jamb - "and show a portfolio on this subject." For example, a question like “did you make other construction sites?” Is asked either from insecurity as a result, or from a lack of understanding of the specifics of the work. This is how to ask a builder with 20 years of experience how many green brick projects he completed. No one? It's a shame, but we are looking for an artist with experience in laying exactly green bricks.

    Another attraction when choosing an artist on the exchanges is a test for a robot. There is an indicator phrase - “Please indicate the estimated deadline directly in the response to the tender” - 60% do not read up to this phrase or do not understand that it is necessary to indicate the term or at least the factors on which it depends. Most often, these are people who have copied their offer.

    An interesting situation is with the placement of a request on the forum and a clear request to write only on soap. Below in the topic, the so-called "census of idiots" is often formed.

    On the other hand, I have repeatedly witnessed how even the most competent performers often do not understand what they need to get a project. “Here I am, I’ll do it without problems” - this is not a little, but just verbal garbage, spam, even if you are a super-mega-guru. In the answer you need to immediately show that you read the task and understood it, perhaps ask questions, show the future work process, or at least indicate the next step from the customer in the work.

    Submission of work

    Service, usability and usability often end at the time of sending work. Let me give you an example: I somehow left without a laptop - and got the results of the work of two designers on the phone. One sent a PSD packed in a RAR, and the second sent a * .ai with a JPEG image nearby. Guess which option made you want to swear? Later, I found out that the second designer always sent the results “wrapped up” that way, because he understood a couple of things. Firstly, JPG is immediately visible in the letter, it’s easy to print it in one click and show it to the boss, and secondly, it doesn’t cost anything if you screw the automatic generation directly into the save macro.

    From writers I regularly receive unsigned files, for which it is not immediately clear, for example, what kind of product is described. From the point of view of the performer, its material is the one and only, and from the point of view of the company it is one in a thousand, and requires classification.


    There is one simple rule: if the customer accepts something, then there are no alterations in the already approved part .

    Here's the thing: suppose you developed a site. The customer says that it’s normal, but you need to specify a second phone and add another block to the main one. You rule, after which he says that it would be necessary to redo the design, otherwise his wife and boss do not like him. This is his jamb. Normal people understand (and you as a freelancer should warn about this somewhere) that you can roll back from any modification only to the previous accepted version, but not further. Or - an additional payment for the opinion of the wife and the boss.

    All adjustments should be as measurable as possible and contain a specific action. For example, “add a twist” is immeasurable, and “customers don’t notice the search form” does not contain an action. The customer must understand that a freelancer is not a project manager, and often should not and will not solve border problems. But a good specialist in the second symptom about the form will be able to understand what is the matter. When I know that the performer is more competent than me, I describe the symptom, propose my solution and explain that it can be safely ignored if there is a better idea. If I'm not special, I have to trust the specialist.

    On the part of the freelancer with adjustments, there is also often an Achtung. Here the military set a very interesting example: suppose you bring some kind of document for inspection to the head. The leader makes corrections on it, and after that you should bring the next version along with the one where he wrote. The military comrade will gaze at both of them and will be able to compare "it was-it was" without unnecessary hemorrhoids. Misunderstandings of such things are often made by proofreaders, writers and pre-printers - for example, no one will read a second and third time a 20-page document unless changes are clearly highlighted. Among other things, such an emphasis is an elementary politeness towards the customer.


    We are all human beings, and everyone has schools. There is only one worse jamb “I delay the project”: “I delay the project and do not warn.” A freelancer may dig, may not dig - he loses only the reward and the client. The customer loses a larger project where the task was written. Therefore, for any misunderstanding, delay or problem, you must immediately notify the customer. And to think one step ahead, something like this: “I apologize, got sick, I delay the project for 2 days. The attachment contains all the materials that are currently ready so that you can transfer them to another artist if the deadline is critical. If the delay is acceptable, then I will continue to work. As an apology, I give you a 10% discount on all my services, including payment for the current project. ”In this situation, the customer will not initiate a second contact to obtain additional information: he has everything to make a decision - and most likely he will continue to work with you, or he will most likely return again.

    From the customer side, jambs are also not uncommon. For example, when ordering a design, I get the layout in exact accordance with the prototype and show it to the focus group in order to be surprised to find out that for some reason they don’t eat the whole block. After the study, I understand what needs to be changed, but this is clearly beyond the scope of the terms of reference. If the change is small (“same, only red”), it usually goes in the general order. If time-consuming, then I agree for an additional fee and send an addition to the statement of work. In freelance, I had this kind of experience: at first “everything is fine” - and the next day “you know, the boss and the cleaning lady did not like it, it’s necessary to redo this and this”. If a little or is it really valuable advice - not a question. If this is clearly contrary to the previous agreement, then for an additional fee.

    By the way, in order to avoid the situation “my boss didn’t like it”, you should definitely ask how the acceptance will take place. “Please clarify who else but you will make a decision on the project” is a good question to indicate that you are working with an intermediary.


    If a conflict arises, then both sides are always wrong. The customer - because he incorrectly evaluated the contractor and inaccurately conveyed the task, the freelancer - because he contacted the inadequate and did not find out all the details himself.

    As a freelancer, at first I was sometimes angry at completely Martian corrections, but quickly calmed down and tried to think about the situation from all sides. Putting myself in the place of the customer, I realized that half of them really logically follow from his picture of the world. In these situations, you need to learn: to improve professional skills, negotiation, organization (any editing is a misunderstanding when setting a task) and so on. But no negative emotions. Plus, in the future, learn to understand with whom it is definitely not worth working.

    The timing

    They break down regularly anyway, so the customer is better off:
    1. Insure the terms with an additional “emergency” reserve of 15-20% of the time. This should be enough for urgent execution by another freelancer, if the first is screwed up.
    2. Choose artists who have nothing in their reviews about being late.
    3. Demand intermediate results. Freelancers work too often in recent days as students before a session - and intermediate checkpoints and correspondence help to understand that everything is going on. It is important in any case not to react to intermediate vyrviglazny things, because "half-work is not shown to the fool."
    4. Set bonuses and payment limits in case the conditions are not met or the project is completed earlier. A freelancer should be motivated to make the project on time with a carrot in front and a carrot in back.

    The contractor also needs to do something:
    1. To paint the work schedule in the project application. This is really cool both because of the deadlines and because the customer sees what and how you will do it. It is very important to understand the workflow protocol on both sides.
    2. Express willingness to financially guarantee the deadlines - for example, "all on time or I will return the money."
    3. Confirm each customer letter. The worst thing on his part is when you got something and disappeared: it is unclear whether you are working, getting sick, or simply dumped from the project.

    Acceptance as a basis

    The technical task is, roughly speaking, how the performers should do the work. Among other things, it should contain a section with acceptance criteria, which in freelance becomes the most important. In principle, any terms of reference in freelance (I do not mean months-long projects) can be reduced to a description of the acceptance criteria.

    To do this, you need to describe the specific procedure for how the order will be accepted. For example, list the tests (your layout normally passes validation), or explain what you need in measurable terms.

    When something cannot be measured, in freelance you can either place a test task, or give a schematic diagram of the product. For example, for all work on visual design, we give specific clear prototypes, including the location of each block, its functional purpose and a description of its work. Yes, you will have to take a lot of actions and spend a lot of time to draw up such a prototype - but you will definitely know that the performer will understand you. Yes, at the same time you are not a designer - but it is you who know your project better than others, and this is more important. If you really, really “swim”, then in any case, make such a prototype and offer it for discussion, explaining the problem.

    Task acceptance

    At the time of publication of the task, the customer believes that he will be offered a solution. I will explain on the fingers: the solution is when the customer explained the need, and they closed it to him. The solution to the problem of hanging shelves on the wall is not a drill, not a hammer drill, not nails, and not holes. This is an opportunity to put books on it.

    Suppose, as often happens, the primary information after the receipt of the order by the contractor is not enough. Further options:
    • The freelancer proceeds without question. Either he has already conducted additional research and realized what you as a customer need, or, more likely, he decided that this is a conveyor and stupidly mows. I am particularly struck by writers in this regard, who almost always think that they need to write SEO texts and scary meat without question, although the phrase “Text experience for SEO is considered to be irreversibly traumatic to the brain” is in the same tender on the freelance exchange.
    • The second option in the order without full technical requirements - the freelancer is waiting. Given that the customer often does not understand what is required of him, instead of strict formal TK, garbage will turn out in the spirit of "yellow and to catch." Here it is necessary that the freelancer ask all the relevant questions himself, forming such a task for himself. Each customer will be happy to explain everything in detail, if he understands that this will improve the result of work. If you suddenly don’t explain, it’s better to break off relations at this stage.
    • The customer himself understands that he could not convey everything and is waiting for questions. At a minimum, you need to send a brief where you can clearly record the requirements.

    Another funny jamb in TK is the inclusion of items without understanding their essence. For example, a couple of years ago I saw tenders for Olympic sites, where there was a requirement like: "The site is displayed equally in all Mozilla, Opera, Internet Explorer browsers." Formally, this is not even magical IE 6.0, but the most real mythical IE 1.0. Plus, the word "the same" also makes you wary even under the condition of working under modern browsers.

    Cross services

    You must understand that the customer needs a fully completed work. For example, if we are talking about ordering a design, you need to have a coder who can implement it competently on the site. Not the fact that he will need it, but if the client asks what to do next, you must continue the case. The knowledge that you solve a problem from beginning to end and can advise something further brings customers back.

    Freelance correspondence

    • Do as Amazon - a letter to any movements on the part of the client
    • After the call, send a resume on it.
    • Do not need info in the spirit of "Hello, diary." Even if you really want to tell in a chat on Skype how you have it there is cool or bad, refrain. First work.
    • At the end of each letter, record the next step. You must clearly indicate who has the initiative and how it should end. For example: "Now I am waiting for approval" or "There is enough data, tomorrow I will send an option."

    Correspondence from the customer

    • When getting a job, I want to focus on imperfections and mistakes and leave the rest behind the scenes. In principle, it is understandable - the process just consists in closing the problems found. So that your letter does not turn into a “funeral”, do not forget to say about the work as a whole, note all the positive points that you liked or were simply made to last. Everyone forgets the positive, although it is most important.
    • Many things are best turned into questions. For example, do not “move the button to the left,” but “It seems to me that according to other forms on the site, a person is used to having a confirmation button always on the left: maybe this one should be done the same way, or do you think there is a reason to leave it on place? ”There are two reasons: firstly, it is more constructive and more accessible for the performer. Secondly, you may be wrong and the premise to do so may indeed exist.
    • Do not teach a professional his job. You set acceptance criteria, not implementation methods. If you go to the dentist, you do not choose tools and do not give advice - you accept a healed tooth. If you need to teach a doctor his work, then why did you entrust your tooth to him?
    • If the work is done well, do not forget the review. Even if it’s not about the exchange or special services, you can still make a thank you note from the company.

    As a result, a professional is cheaper than a beginner:

    1. It is faster.
    2. It does not create risks that beginners simply guarantee.
    3. A professional better understands the problem in more detail and has a range of solution options.
    4. Most likely, he understands the background of the task, and the first time he will do better than you thought.
    5. After him, no alterations are needed.
    6. A thorough check is not necessary behind him.
    7. It significantly reduces management costs.
    8. It provides a predictable result that fits well with business plans.
    9. He can transfer the project to colleagues if he is sick. Yes, he has the right connections.
    10. A professional thinks about the future and therefore does not put crutches. His work is scalable and can be transferred to other artists of the same profile.

    PS Please share your experience, schools and successes.

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