Jan 28 2011
For some, being self employed is the ultimate goal. Sun in your face, wind at your back, feet propped up on your desk with no one to answer to but yourself. If it’s a beautiful day outside you can leave the chains of the 8-5 schedule and go enjoy the day. No need to think about retirement- you’re well ahead of the pack.
The reality of freelancing sometimes differs for the dream though. Clients call in the middle of the night with last minute minor changes. Invoices may go unnoticed and unpaid. Long hours can be spent to meet insane deadlines. Or entire designs may have to be reimplemented with graphics provided by their niece. There are many hazards when sailing your freelancing ship out of the safety of the corporate dock.
One of the biggest aspects of managing clients is setting expectations. First is understanding what the client wants. Then you use your expertise to fill in the blanks to explain to them what they really need. And finally clarifying an appropriate timeline and cost associated for that. In the world of freelancing, these steps sometimes go out the door in a frenzy to bid new projects. This haphazard job bidding environment has grieved employers and freelancers alike. Leading the effort to rectify it, is Project Fizz.
Project Fizz is, at its core, a site that helps employers find freelancers. It comes with a few important twists though. First is that all bids are blind, meaning there’s no bidding war that takes place. Clients receive bids and can select whichever professional they prefer. The result of this is that freelancers are compelled to bid the project exactly as they see it. They’ll offer a fee that they think is appropriate and fitting for the job description. The other aspect of Project Fizz’s system is that the bids cost freelancers a minor fee. This is anywhere from 40-50 cents depending on how many you purchase. Thus, with Project Fizz a number of lesser qualified applicants will shy away from applying. This is good for everyone so senior web developers aren’t losing jobs to those with nominal experience.
Employers have the option to list the job, indicate their expected price range, and describe the project. See the Web Design project pictured below. I’ll note one red flag that caught my eye on the page. The price is decent- in the thousands, but the time frame indicates, “When it’s done.” Oftentimes ambiguous answers are euphemisms for, “I need it done yesterday.” The first thing to do here is to describe the work and set an expected end date. Then watch how far back the client falls over. Negotiating schedules is like negotiating for a fee, so be sure to give yourself some padding so you have wiggle room when they push back. Most jobs offered on Project Fizz will be to hire freelancers, but some will also be full time positions.
Now, let’s say you come across a project that is particularly lucrative. The work is exactly what you’re most competent at, (other than throwing a few brews down at the pub). Your schedule is wide open for new clients and you’d really like the job. In this case you have the option to offer a premium bid. These have all the same functions as a regular one, but are formatted differently and are filtered to the top of the bids. Since it stands out and employers know it costs a bit more for these, they’re more likely to give it thorough consideration.
Project Fizz is a recently launched site. As part of their new kickoff they’re offering 100 free bids to new freelancers. This includes access to their invoicing system, (Project Fizz doesn’t take any intermediary cut of this), file management, and feedback system. It’s a great way to pick up new work and start off your projects on the right foot. The world of freelance work can be rocky at times. With Project Fizz, those navigational miscues are mitigated so employers will better be able to outsource to freelancers.