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One of the benefits of looking for projects frequently is that it gives you the best opportunity to win rush jobs. I define a rush job as a project that meets one of two criteria: either the client has a specific deadline that provides significantly less time than would normally be considered required for a project of that type; or the client just wants the work done as soon as possible.
Managed properly, rush jobs can be a boon to any freelancer. They represent additional work and more money, and often can be done at a higher rate than conventional jobs. You get to not only meet and earn new clients, but do so in a “heroic” way by helping them out of problems. However, rush jobs also have a number of serious potential pitfalls. If you aren’t careful, what seemed like a great opportunity can quickly erode into a morass that could cost you sleep—sometimes literally.
Here are a few things to keep in mind.
As I mentioned above, there are two different types of rush jobs: the ones where the client has a specific, short deadline, and others where the client is just generally in a hurry. They are similar but need to be approached in different ways.
If the client has a deadline, then he or she is imposing a hard requirement that you cannot move. The first assessment you must make is whether or not the deadline is achievable, even with extra effort. Sometimes clients really have no idea that what they are asking for is just not doable at all, especially projects with very short timeframes (under 24 hours). If the project is feasible, you’ll then have to determine what doing it will cost you, in terms of sacrifices you must make professionally or personally, to get it done. We’ll explore those factors momentarily.
The client who just wants the work done “ASAP” is being more flexible, because there’s no specific deadline. Such a job is really more about priorities than anything else. If you think about it, as a professional it is always in your best interest to get work done as soon as possible, so “ASAP” is somewhat redundant. What the client on an “ASAP” rush job is really requesting is that you put his or her project on the front burner ahead of either other work, or before non-work activities you’ll have to set aside to get it done.
The more of a hurry the client is in, the important clear project requirements become. Clients who aren’t sure what they want or are in a rush can be fairly easily managed; clients who don’t know what they need and are in a hurry can be a real pain in the behind.
If I see a project where the client has indicated time urgency but has not bothered to properly flesh out the project requirements, I’ll often just skip it. Sometimes I’ll contact the client to ask for more information; if so, I will judge the feasibility of helping him or her determine the project needs, based on how quickly I get a response, and how helpful it is.
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Last Site Update: February 1, 2012
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