Keep Your Clients Happy; Keep Yourself Sane

I just read this blog post from Carole at Freelance Fact File about keeping clients happy.  She gives eight tips, but when I read them, I thought that some didn’t sound like fun but more like drudgery. If that’s the case, then I would be back to working in a cubicle. Below are the tips and my comments on how to keep yourself sane.

  1. Make sure you make yourself indispensable  Make yourself known for quality work, but don’t make yourself  so indispensable that you are the point person every thing.  Draft a list of what you do for business continuity and to enumerate all the work you do.
  2. Always do a brilliant job Yes, do a brilliant job but don’t overpromise. Manage client expectations
  3. Become part of the team  Know the team, be a team player but don’t get caught in the office politics. 
  4. Never miss deadlines  Don’t miss deadlines when it is solely up to you.  If you are waiting on information from the client, then remind of the deadline and let them know politely that there slowing down the process and it may cost them money.
  5. Come up with good ideas.  Yes! Come up great ideas and make sure they are in an email or documented somewhere.
  6. Show you’re prepared to be flexible – ongoing repeat work is worth the occasional weekend working.  I personally don’t do weekends other than responding to a few emails.  Communicate when you are available.
  7. Make yourself available at short notice  Be flexible. Give “office hours” that you are available and options to reach you but make sure that client knows to respect your time.
  8. Remember that the client is always right. The client is not always right,  but do what they ask anyway. If you feel that what they are asking is totally wrong, suggest an alternative and put in an email. 

Post completion of a project, ask the client to write a recommendation on LinkedIn and refer you to others who may need your services.

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Don’t Leave $$ On The Table: How To Set Your Freelancer Rate

Jen Dziura is a friend of mine who wears even more hats that I do.  In addition to comedy, performance, producing spelling bees, tutoring–she also writes a career column for The Gloss.  Here’s a bit of her excellent post about how to set your freelancing rates and how much to pay an assistant.

The goal of this column isn’t to actually tell you how many dollars to charge for your services, but to give you some ammo when negotiating, and to make you feel generally ballsier about quoting prices and sticking to them.

The conventional wisdom for freelancers is to take whatever you’d make per hour in a regular job and double it, since you’ll be paying your own taxes and benefits, and you’ll have to market yourself and spend time perusing contracts and a whole lot of other things you won’t be getting paid for directly. So, if you made $60,000 in your full-time gig, you’d divide by 52 weeks per year and then 40 hours per week to get $28.85 per hour. Double it and round up for good measure, and you might charge $60 per hour.

However, an hourly model of charging for things implies that 1) you shouldn’t be rewarded for being faster than other people (or that, if you are faster, you should lie), 2) work should be compensated based on time spent rather than output (which might be why you got out of the 9-to-5 working world in the first place), and 3) all of the hours a person puts in on a task are equally valuable.

Read the rest over at The Gloss.

Set Aside Money Quarterly For Taxes

Yesterday ( June 15th) was the quarterly tax deadline. Joyce Rosenberg wrote a great article highlighting the need of self-employed and small business owners to set aide 30-4% of their income quarterly for tax payments. Below is an excerpt.

 ESTIMATED TAXES

Because employees have their taxes withheld from their paychecks, most don’t need to worry about paying the government. But paying taxes is one of the chores on business owners’ to-do list. They’re expected to make quarterly tax payments, known as estimated payments.

Accountants advise business owners to set aside 30 percent to 40 percent of the money they earn to cover their taxes. That can be a hard adjustment for some owners. If they earn $3,000 on a project or from a sale of goods, they really can’t consider all of that money as theirs. If 40 percent of that amount, or $1,200, is allocated to taxes, the owner is left with $1,800.

Berdahl said many owners find it hard to save money for taxes. “People who aren’t budgeting to put the 30 to 40 percent away are using it for operations,” he said. “Come April, they don’t have anything and they have to knock on the bank’s door to pay their taxes.”

TD Bank Flipping

TD Bank Flip Event

Last week I went to the Trapeze School on way west 30th Street for the TD Bank Flip Campaign Event. TD Bank is running a promotion to entice new customers and/or new checking accounts whereas they will give Flip video cameras while supplies last. From now until June 5th, you will be eligible to get a Flip Camera. Once you open your checking account, you must use your Debit Card for eight purchases and make two payments with Online Bill Pay within 45 days of account opening, to receive a brand new Flip.

I have a fear of heights, unsteady heights in particular so I knew this would be a challenge for me to fly into the air.  I looked at the height of the ladder and the netting and realized that I didn’t feel like having a panic attack so I didn’t do trapeze. I jumped on trampoline a little, but even that was a little uneasy for me. Nevertheless, I had a great time hanging with other bloggers.

This promotion is a great idea to kick off summer, because you can get Flip to capture all the fun of summer. In fact, if you already have a main checking account, you can use this new account as the “summer fun” account which will enable you to keep track of all the money you spend on things like travel, beachwear or ice cream.  This is easy way to  budget fun.  You can follow TD Bank on Twitter at Ask_TDBank.

Questions To Ask When Building A Business Plan

Creating a business plan for many entrepreneurs can be a numbers headache. The important thing is being able to answer key questions. There’s an article in CS Monitor that lists some important questions hat should be included in a business plan.

  1. What are you hoping to do?
  2. Why is this an opportunity? What is happening in the marketplace to make this work?
  3. Specifically who is feeling “the pain” that creates their need for this product or service? What will you need to do to get their business?
  4. Who will you have to fight to get these customers to buy from you?
  5. Specifically what will you offer and for how much? How will you let them know about you? How will you deliver what you offer to them?
  6. What resources and people will you need to make this work?
  7. What does this story look like in numbers?