Wednesday, January 24, 2007

How to hire, and work with, a Freelancer

Excerpt from the Graphic Novel 3 Knights in India by John Steventon

Believe it or not, but Freelancers are people, just like you. Sure many of us work from home, some even in pajamas, and many of us actually enjoy our work, but we're still people, just like you. We even appreciate the same respect you would give to others in a workplace, and respond well to kindness. And guess what? Just like you, we expect to get paid for our work.

Now, I can't speak for other Freelancers, but I can say that as a Cartoonist, freelancing is not always a barrel of monkeys. Yes, cartoons are fun and colorful, and nice to look at, and yes, a good cartoon sure looks easy to draw, but guess what? It's work. Even though it can be a lot of fun, it is indeed work, and it takes time. That is time that I can be doing other things, like spending time with my family.

So please, if you are considering hiring a Freelancer of any sort, pay attention to the following, which I have taken time from my busy schedule to prepare.

1) Freelancers are not volunteers.

To reiterate, this is work. When you buy a cartoon from me, it may look simple, but it does take time for me to do. Only an hour, you say? A few hours? That's not long. Perhaps, but it is my time, and I value it. You are also paying me for the years it took to develop the skills that I have, for the uniqueness of the work that is mine, and certain rights to use that material.

I have a family to feed, so why do I get called names and insulted or ignored when someone asks me for a quote, and I take the time to give them the most fair and reasonable quote that I can? Hey, I'm not out to rob you, and I know that I have competition, so I am as fair as possible. I may work cheap at times, to help out a charity or small business, but I usually do not work for free (although sometimes it sure feels that way.)

2) Freelancers are professionals: You should act professional as well.

Be polite in contacting a Freelancer, and provide as much information as you can. Pricing for a cartoon can vary considerably. I am not a mind reader, and if it takes me 5 e-mails to find out who you are and what you require, then the price is going to go up.

And please, if e-mailing, provide a useful heading. Most of the emails I get from people who think they are professional usually ends up clogging my Spam filter because they use headings like 'picture', or 'label'. I may not open your email if I cannot tell that it is business.

A freelancer needs to know who you are, what kind of business you run, how big is that business, what you are looking for in terms of size, color, detail, etc. Also, how are you going to use the artwork you hire me to create, who will own the rights, how many copies will be printed, if it will be printed or used on the web, etc.

Please give as much information as you can up front. And if you have a budget, please let us know. If you are only willing to spend a few bucks on a drawing, then go find a high school student and remember that you will get what you pay for. If you don't have a large budget, then go into negotiations willing to compromise.

Please do not respond with insults or rude language. This is a reflection on what kind of person YOU are, and makes me oh so very happy that I did not waste another moment with you.

3) Do respond to all correspondence, and follow up with us.

If you don’t like a quote, or need time to think about it, then please let us know, politely. Failure to respond is very rude, and if I do not hear from you in a day or two, I will assume that you are not interested, and remove you from my schedule.

Often a condition of my working with you is a copy of printed work. If you promise this, or anything else, please follow through, even if it’s just a “thank you, everything went well with the project” note.

And if later on you find a problem with the work, then let us know that as well. I’m here until your job is done to assist you in its completion. That job is a reflection on me, and I’ll back it up completely.

These are just the highlights, of course, and as you can tell, problems that I have to deal with on a regular basis. Now, to be honest, most of the people that I have worked with have been great. On the flip side, there are some lousy Freelancers out there: people who bail on clients, can’t or don’t finish work, etc.

When entering a working relationship, it is best for both sides to be up front and professional. Because you may have worked with some awful Freelancers is no excuse to approach me with hostility. And I won’t be grumpy towards you just because I’ve had some bad clients.

Promise. :0)