Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Way We Work Best

I had this client once who was ongoing and ordered a LOT of work. The project required work and response almost every day, and it paid fairly well. It sounds like an ideal project. But the client was also very demanding, deadlines were short notice and everything had to be spot-on perfect on the first try.

I pride myself on perfection when it comes to things like grammar and spelling. But there started to be errors in some of the documents I sent. At first, I was mortified--how could I be making these mistakes? I had never made them in any other situation--and thankfully, haven't since with any other clients. It was out of character. Thinking about it, though, the problem was fairly clear. I realized that the pressure of the situation was at least partially to blame. Ordinarily I am careful and exacting. But when the pressure starts to ramp up, my attention to detail starts to flag.

The bottom line? I learned that I am not someone who thrives under high pressure. I need deadlines that give me room to breathe. I need to be paid enough to be able to afford to take this time. Exacting work requires mental time and space. Now I'm careful not to get into situations with clients where the work is very high volume and demanding, even if it's well paid--I know I'm not my best in these situations.

How do you work--and how have you learned?


Unknown said...

Jen, this is a well-timed post. I just got in hot water from a client because there were two grammatical errors in the two documents I'd sent her. I was equally mortified, then I realized that dammit, she can't expect much because she herself told me to take no more than two hours to completely rewrite these documents. Naturally they were going to suck! I don't work for free - nor does she. Therefore, you're paying for two hours, you get all the work I can cram into two hours. And you get errors.

Jennifer Williamson said...

Exactly. WIth freelancers it's often the same as it is with full-time work--your employers will try to get as much out of you as possible for as little as possible. Sometimes they just have to accept that they get what they pay for. And while I'm extremely exacting, there are certain situations under which mistakes are more likely--because I'm human. Stress affects us all, whether we like it or not.

Issa said...

In tough times like these, a lot of clients out there are looking for the lowest rates possible. Then, the work expectation is simply too much for the pay rate quoted. I believe that everything should start with a clear communication and trust, as well as setting your rate the way you truly deserve it. You can definitely negotiate for quality jobs with quality pay in the end

Brian said...


I just got a gig to edit about two hundred pages of content by the middle of April. I've worked with this client before and had no problem with setting expectations. I made it clear that a really thorough edit pass on that volume of words would take longer than two weeks. I'm going to do the best job I can do in the time allowed (and the rate will reflect a rush job ordered late).