In an earlier post, I wrote about the possibility of taking on a few freelance gigs in 2017. As a trial run, I picked up a client to handle online pc repair and other computer-related. I’ll visit his office when I have hardware I need to install or if remote access isn’t working. The relationship has been great. But, I have been able to make a few observations on what it means to be a tech freelancer.
Be prepared receive calls at weird hours. My client and I are on different schedules despite being in the same time zone. There are been times I’ve been in the middle of working, running errands or even in the middle of a shower when a crisis call comes in. What I learned is to breathe, talk the client of the digital ledge and schedule a time where we can get together. (I assured him there was nothing I could do from inside the shower.)
You’re paid to be available. Sometimes your schedule makes it impossible to address a client’s needs. However, blowing off an email or a phone call to play World of Warcraft isn’t a good reason. I make sure my client knows my available hours and I make sure I am available during those hours.
If assignments go into overtime, don’t panic. I’ve spent three hours on the telephone with my client for something that should have taken 15 minutes. In the freelance world time is measured in dollars, not minutes. If my client wants the extra time, It will appear in the invoice. Now, I’m not going to charge my client from spending an extra 10 or 20 minutes on a task. Anything over an hour goes on the invoice.
When you’re off the clock, be off the clock. I need time to unwind from the day job. I also need time to decompress from freelance assignments. I picked up a secondary number for clients. The greeting states mu unavailability and if there’s a true emergency, to contact me on my personal mobile number.
Don’t make promises. I saved this one for last because I made this mistake the other day, though it was unintentional. I promised the client I would install software he needed on his PC for a meeting he was having. And I would have made good on the promise if I didn’t catch a flat on the way home. (While it was painful, I was able to do what I needed to do from my phone, but I was already 30 minutes behind schedule.)
Now I answer commitments with, “I’ll do my best.” It keeps me from making promises I may not be able to keep.
I know there’s much to learn about the freelance business. I’m fortunate enough to start small and work through the issues that creep. That way, when I’m ready to do this on a larger scale next year, I will be better prepared for the challenges that will occur.