Non-Monetary Value Considerations
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Even if you freelance primarily to earn money, non-monetary considerations can have a significant impact on the attractiveness of a job. In many cases, the intangible benefits you obtain from a project can be just as valuable as the tangible ones. You may find yourself more willing to bid on projects that have good non-monetary attributes even if it means earning less money than you’d ideally prefer. This is simply an indication that even attributes that seem intangible can have tangible benefits. This concept is explored in much greater detail when we talk about how to dynamically assess the value of a project.
This is pretty simple: everyone prefers to work on projects that are interesting rather than ones that seem dull. If I read a project description and am immediately struck with a thought like “hey, that would be cool to work on”, then I’m willing to overlook quite a few other shortcomings, both financial and otherwise.
The way I look at it, what matters is not just how much I’m earning per hour, but how much I’m taking in per perceived hour. A boring, uninteresting project will seem to take a lot longer than one that is interesting and even a bit challenging, making it feel like I’m being paid more even if I am not.
Being a successful career freelancer means constantly updating and expanding your skills. Many contractors actually pay out of pocket to take courses or buy books to help them move into related fields of endeavor, or just stay current with changes to the marketplace. So how much better is it if you can learn a new skill or technique while also doing a project you get paid for?
Of course, you need to exercise some wisdom and judgment here. There is a fine line between taking on a project that is close to your main area of expertise but will require you to expand your skills somewhat, and diving into something you really have no idea about. It’s great to use projects to expand your potential, but as I mentioned in the discussion of matching project requirements to abilities, you don’t want to do this at the expense of your professionalism, and risk a mess that will hurt you more than help. If you aren’t sure you can do the work, don’t bid on the project. But if you can, take advantage of the opportunity.
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