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Table Of Contents  The Online Freelancing Guide
 >  Introduction - Online Freelancing Overview, Options, Opportunities and Challenges
      >  Handling the Psychological Challenges of Online Freelancing

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Avoiding Emotional Decision-Making
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Online Freelancing Career Options
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Standing Up for Yourself - Being a Professional, Not a Patsy
(Page 4 of 5)

Inches and Miles

Suppose you’re a successful freelancer with enough work to keep you constantly busy, and your hourly rate is $50. A client comes to you and offers you a $150 project that will probably take five hours. Would you take it? Probably not. But if you’re like many freelancers, you’d take on a client with a three-hour project for $150, and then allow the client to slowly add to the project until it ends up taking four or five hours of your time—not even including communication time. This very frequent phenomenon is commonly called scope creep.

Some clients engage in this behavior deliberately, trying to exploit freelancers to get free work from them. In my experience, though, most are not malicious: they simply succumb to the “just one more” temptation. It’s easy, when a project is underway, for a client to remember something he or she “forgot”, or to ask “can you just make this one change”, or say “while you’re doing X, maybe it would make sense to also do Y…” And so forth.

The truth, however, is that regardless of the client’s motivation, there is no surer way to turn a lucrative project into one that wasn’t worth taking, than to allow a client to scope creep you to death. And it’s surprisingly easy to allow it to happen, again because of the desire to keep clients happy. Even experienced freelancers fall into this trap, present company included. I’ll freely admit that I’m very bad about allowing clients to add “just a little bit” to a project, either in an effort to be “nice”, or because I tell myself that the change is so small that it’s not worth charging for.

Many clients would pay if I billed them for small amounts of extra work that I do for free, so some might say I’m being dumb in leaving that money on the table. But there’s nothing wrong with being generous, and I think that rewarding a good client by agreeing to do some work for free is good business with a long-term focus. If you take this approach, though, just be sure you are honest with yourself about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Are you trying to cultivate a relationship, or just avoiding asking for money because you’re afraid of how the client will react?

Also recognize the difference between those who appreciate generosity, and those who just see it as a sign of weakness. A truly good client will not repeatedly make requests of you without offering to pay for your time and effort; a bad one will reward your token of good faith by trying to take you for all they can get.


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Avoiding Emotional Decision-Making
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Online Freelancing Career Options
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Last Site Update: October 21, 2011

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