Contrasting Long and Short Duration Projects
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Just as there is significant variability in the quality of freelancing projects, the duration of projects also falls along a spectrum. Some tasks are very short—I’ve done jobs that took less than an hour—but others can last for weeks or even months. Of course, most projects don’t map to either extreme of the duration scale: they are somewhere in the middle. But the “middle” can still vary from projects that take a few hours to ones that take several days of full time work.
Many freelancers mistakenly believe that there’s a direct link between the length of a project and its quality level. In my experience, the correlation is actually indirect. Quality projects tend to pay more than lower-grade ones, and longer projects of course pay more than shorter ones. However, this doesn’t mean that longer projects are automatically ones that serious freelancers would view as attractive; nor does it mean that shorter projects are not worth considering. The truth is that both long and short projects can be high or low in quality, depending on what they are. I’ve done high quality projects that paid very well and were done in a few hours; I’ve also seen jobs lasting for months that consist of drudge work at embarrassingly low rates.
Project duration isn’t something that you’re likely to make a “hard” choice about, at least not in the way that most freelancers would when thinking about the quality/price tradeoff. Most contractors will work on a mix of long and short projects, because it is usually factors other than duration that determine whether or not a project is worth consideration. Still, you’ll probably find that you tend to seek out either longer or shorter jobs where you have a choice. Neither is strictly better than the other, so which you prefer is largely a matter of personal style.
Below I’ll lay out some of the issues where long and short projects differ. Since this is a relative comparison, to avoid duplicating everything, I’ll just list the advantages of each—you can safely assume that the advantages of one are the disadvantages of the other, again, relatively speaking. :) Of course, mid-length projects are a mix of the advantages and disadvantages of both long and short durations.
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