Topic: Good pointers for freelance wannabees (Page 1 of 1) Pages that link to <a href="https://ozoneasylum.com/backlink?for=9750" title="Pages that link to Topic: Good pointers for freelance wannabees (Page 1 of 1)" rel="nofollow" >Topic: Good pointers for freelance wannabees <span class="small">(Page 1 of 1)</span>\

 
butcher
Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From: New Jersey, USA
Insane since: Oct 2000

IP logged posted posted 09-19-2001 21:54 Edit Quote

In view of the many threads I've seen started with:

Help! I have a client, what do I do?

I thought this artical might give those lucky enough to be in that position some good starting points

-Butcher-

Wakkos
Maniac (V) Mad Scientist

From: Azylum's Secret Lab
Insane since: Oct 2000

IP logged posted posted 09-19-2001 22:56 Edit Quote

Tanquiu!!!!

Very useful for me, really!

LaSun
Bipolar (III) Inmate

From: the oceanic antipodes
Insane since: Sep 2001

IP logged posted posted 09-20-2001 00:04 Edit Quote

THANK YOU THANKYOU!


...someday ....

Slime
Lunatic (VI) Mad Scientist

From: Massachusetts, USA
Insane since: Mar 2000

IP logged posted posted 09-20-2001 01:39 Edit Quote

Good article, but I'd be happy to see a little bit of elaboration on points like how to go about making a contract and stuff... (can i just write something on a peice of paper, have my client sign it, and be assured that he's legally bound by it? I'd imagine it's a bit more complicated than that.) ... also how to determine how your payment should work (for instance, if we call ourselves *designers*, how would we charge by the page? We're providing the design, not the content. They can have as many pages as they want, we're just making the template for them, and maybe providing a simple way for them to change the content. Or am I mistaken?) How can I find out *how much* my time and work is worth? Stuff like that is left out in the open.

docilebob
Maniac (V) Mad Scientist

From: buttcrack of the midwest
Insane since: Oct 2000

IP logged posted posted 09-20-2001 04:36 Edit Quote

And how can you enforce non-payment ?

DocOzone
Maniac (V) Lord Mad Scientist
Sovereign of all the lands Ozone and just beyond that little green line over there...

From: Stockholm, Sweden
Insane since: Mar 1994

IP logged posted posted 09-20-2001 10:47 Edit Quote

Hmm, I would think that a simple letter *requesting* non-payment should work. Optionally, you could just decide to not send an invoice, that'd work too! =)

At Apocalypse Studios I made a habit of making my invoices *very* pretty, with the graphics I created for them displayed on the printed out invoice, with a background, in color, on really nice paper, they were sometimes *beautiful*. Once I was waiting for a payment from a government organization I sent a bill to, they usually paid very promptly and this one was getting quite late. It seems that the guy I sent the invoice to didn't recognize it as such, and it ended up posted on the wall of their office, in a frame no less! After a few phone calls we figured out what had happened, and they made a copy and forwarded it to accounting.

When it comes to getting paid, I always find getting that last payment is the toughest part, clients will usually hold it until the last issue of theirs is addressed, and it seems there is *always* one last thing they think they should get, that you simply can't give them, when does it all end? This is why it's so critical to make a detailed list of what you should be doing, and check them off as you go.

Your pal, -doc-

Metahedron
Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From: TriCites TN/VA
Insane since: Sep 2000

IP logged posted posted 09-20-2001 17:52 Edit Quote

Wow, doc, what a GREAT idea.... I've been trying to polish my invoices/etc to be the most conformist, formal thing possible... to convey authority and professionalism, I guess. But I completely left out the creativity! Tres cool, doc...

Fig
Paranoid (IV) Mad Scientist

From: Houston, TX, USA
Insane since: Apr 2000

IP logged posted posted 09-20-2001 18:05 Edit Quote

Very true Doc, I also wish that with some clients I had more clearly defined the number of revisions to initial sketches that we did. We've got a client now that, after MONTHS of dealing with, feels they may go elsewhere for their site design (this is after 50% down) and asked for an invoice with a balance on it. Fine with us, as the balance is going to be the total amount due on the site because of the MASSIVE number of different concepts we created for the site. Still waiting to see what happens there.

anyway, the point is this: define up front how your process will work, how many initial concepts/sketches you will do, etc., and stress that anything beyond that will cost the client extra. This also puts some pressure on you to really figure out what the client wants to and deliver the first go-round. Also, we have a clause that says we can add up to 15% to the final invoice for extra time spent, stock photography, etc., but won't do that without informing the client first (or something like that, I forget the exact wording).

chris


KAIROSinteractive

butcher
Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From: New Jersey, USA
Insane since: Oct 2000

IP logged posted posted 09-22-2001 03:55 Edit Quote

Now this is cool!

Great stories and input Doc, Metahedron and Fig.

This is the kind of thread we need propigating around here. A good sharing of ideas from those that are in the business, and a wealth of things to learn for those who want to be.

Don't stop now

-Butcher-

Slime
Lunatic (VI) Mad Scientist

From: Massachusetts, USA
Insane since: Mar 2000

IP logged posted posted 09-22-2001 04:06 Edit Quote

So, you all keep mentioning that you have to specify ahead of time how many "sketches/concepts/designs" you'll make for the client... how exactly do you go about creating a design that the client likes? 'Cause if you create something that they just don't want, you obviously have to make a new one... do you create a bunch of designs and then let the client choose, and then refine their favorite one? If you do it that way, then how do you define how you're paid for the "refining" stage? Or, maybe you create a very simple and basic design, show it to the client, and ask where they want you to go with it, and then you work with it some more, etc? Like, how do you set up the whole process?

DocOzone
Maniac (V) Lord Mad Scientist
Sovereign of all the lands Ozone and just beyond that little green line over there...

From: Stockholm, Sweden
Insane since: Mar 1994

IP logged posted posted 09-22-2001 11:54 Edit Quote

I usually start with one design, in what I call the "thrashing" stage. I call it this even when I'm explaining the process to the client, and let him know that this design may be ugly, may be not, what it is is me "thrashing about wildly, trying to find some likeable concepts." I may do one or two quick "thrashes" like this, and let the client know that I expect them to help me by picking bits and pieces out of these that they like, scrollbars from this, colors from that, layout from here, etc...

Once I do my thrashes and we now have something to talk about, I pick my (and their) favorite bits and start sketching. I really don't expect to do more than one, really, with tweaks and enhancements along the way. I do that first real sketch, somewhat rough, and ask, "good? no good?" (I post my work online as soon as I do it. This way the client can watch the progress and make comments as we go, rather than keeping it secret and then springing it on them. I know lots of other freelancers who don't work this way, but this is me.) I expect three major revisions of this during this stage, and make it clear that if we want to take a "left turn" into another design halfway through this, we're back to thrashing again. Since this part of the design has definite billable hours associated with it, I'll make it clear at the point of changing that this part is going to cost that much all over again, nearly!

Hmm, this is the second thread along these lines that should have been in Outpatient Conselling but found it's way here! I like talking about this stuff, and think it's one of the more valuable things we can share on this board, so I think I'll move that forum up into Maximum Security and start fishing for other moderators for it. Would anyone like to take my place as Moderator for the Site Review section? I've been too busy to doa great job of it, and I'd like to devote more time to this other area. Lemme know. (I'll be moving this thread, and others, soon, so look for it there!)

Your pal, -doc-

Slime
Lunatic (VI) Mad Scientist

From: Massachusetts, USA
Insane since: Mar 2000

IP logged posted posted 09-22-2001 18:04 Edit Quote

OK, so, how do you charge for it? Do you charge seperately for the "thrashing" and the actual design creation?

Like, how can you request half the payment up front if you don't know for sure how much time you're going to spend?

DocOzone
Maniac (V) Lord Mad Scientist
Sovereign of all the lands Ozone and just beyond that little green line over there...

From: Stockholm, Sweden
Insane since: Mar 1994

IP logged posted posted 09-22-2001 18:33 Edit Quote

Well, I almost always do have an idea of how much time it's going to take. The production part is usually the most time consuming, and even if it isn't, it doesn't hurt to inflate that aspect just a bit and to use that time for any extra wrangling over design. I tend to charge a lot of money per hour because I *know* I'm not going to charge the client for my time sitting by the window, watching the clouds and *thinking*.

Typically, I'll budget 8 hours of sitting in front of the computer thrashing out as many ugly designs as I can, hopefully generating enough pieces of "concepts" that I can then wrap into a real design. Based on the feedback this generates, and (not including my thinking time), I expect probably no more than 16-24 hours of actual "sitting in front of the computer" design time before I have a concept we can all work with. I'll budget separately for the amount of time it will take to implement this, which I have a formula based on how many individual buttons, scripts, headers etc, I'll need to create. If I have several kinds of fancy Javascript "things" I need to make, I give them each a time based estimate. The design process doesn't stop when implementation starts, it continues throughout the process, with me tweaking buttons and headers, somtimes even colors and such, along the way. Experience has taught me that a full series of templates takes a minimum of 60 hours or so, ading extra time for fancier things. Some sites might turn out to be several different "types" of templates, and I'll budget time for each extra type of template I need to, with the hours slightly less than the first one, assuming they'll be re-using many of the same graphics.

I've done this a lot, for so many different kinds of sites it's ridiculous, really. Basically, my formula uses the "how many of each element" calculation, buttons? 60 minutes for the first, 20 minutes for each next one, 4 hours for the scripting. This would mean an 8 button interface, with a mouseover for each button would be 60 minutes plus 15x20 minutes, plus 240 minutes for the scripting, or 600 minutes total, or 10 hours. Headers? Similar math. Then for implementation just step through the entire site, ading 20-30 minutes up to 4-6 hours for each page set that needs doing, you'll end up with a really tight estimate, probably ending in some strange number of minutes (as in 63 hours and 18 minutes for this project! Plus or minus 54 minutes, heh.) Hardly anyone ever argues with an estimate like this, and if you keep track of your time, you can always accelerate the last bits and come in at just that amount of time. Request 50% of the estimated hours paid up front, or maybe seperate the design hours from the implentation hours, and do oe first 50/50%, and then start on the implementation, same process.

As always, on jobs that take a long time (calendar time, that is!) make a point of sending them a bill at the end of each month for actual hours worked, this keeps the client and you motivated, and eliminates any concerns you might have over getting paid.

Your pal, -doc-

DmS
Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From: Sthlm, Sweden
Insane since: Oct 2000

IP logged posted posted 09-22-2001 23:09 Edit Quote

I have to stress the point of beeing in agreement with the client on exactly what's supposed to be delivered, and when.

I've been in one to many projects when the sales guy sold a project to a client, came to us told us what he sold, we speced it and started the process with the client and ended up with 20 revisions on the design, then a shitload of coding and when the tests started the client wants to change fundamental stuff.

In short, the sales guy sold a polished Fiat, and the client thought he was buying a Mercedes at a bargin price...

This can be handled if it's just a normal simple html-site, but when you are in the middle of a project sold for 3.5 millions (SEK) and 3 months calculated on a whishlist instead of a requirement specification and you start to realize that correct pricing should be around 8 millions and a timeframe of 8-9 months, it's less than fun... Garanteed!

As for selling the idea/site to the client.
I've actually sold a 400.000 sek site using a static series of htmlpages, white bg, border="1" on the tables and Times-font... I sold it on the functionality, the visual stuff we worked out in a workshop + 2 revisions after the project started. This was 1.5 years ago and the client ( http://www.coreventures.se/ ) and I are still working even though I've changed job since then.

This shows that there is more than one way to skin a cat, it can hurt a lot, or a little less if you prepare ahead.
/Dan

DocOzone
Maniac (V) Lord Mad Scientist
Sovereign of all the lands Ozone and just beyond that little green line over there...

From: Stockholm, Sweden
Insane since: Mar 1994

IP logged posted posted 09-23-2001 01:38 Edit Quote

Yah, I've been in that situation before too, DmS! One of my "red flags" is when I see the words "must be searchable" somewhere around bullet point #23. The client is picturing a combination of Yahoo, Alta Vista and Google, with all sorts of variations and weightings, and the Sales guy just heard a Tech say he could hook up a basic search engine in about an hour. Hmm, if only the client actually *wanted* a basic search engine!

(BTW, to put things in perspective, 10.70:- SEK equals about a buck USD.) Anyway you slice it though, burned is burned, and a big company losing a half million dollars is sometimes less painful than *you* losing $5000!

DmS, whereabouts you working nowadays? I'm in the market for a company that is not going bankrupt! =) Drop me a mail if you have any leads in the Stockholm area, cool?

Your pal, -doc-

DmS
Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From: Sthlm, Sweden
Insane since: Oct 2000

IP logged posted posted 09-23-2001 21:51 Edit Quote

Doc, I'm currently working at Integris (former Bull) in Stockholm, Mörby, appr 150 employees, handles everything from hardware, helpdesk, serious security, PKI-cards, systemintegrations, projectmanagement, and now web.
The web-part has been up since may and even though the market is slooow (as you know) we are starting to get some clients, there's three "webbers" right now, one GUI, me and a senior programmer/systemarchitect in the team.

Some of the company-clients are RFV, Police, Hospitals, Defense and some more (this is mainly older customers that we are working on to get in on the web-parts) Not so sexy clients, but big...

We are fusioning with Steria at the end of this year, appr 5000 employees and represented all over europe, so I guess bankrupcy is not an option in the near future

It's been a bit bumpy at start since web is new to this company, but it's starting to shape up, we have some ideas for client approach that those contacted so far seems to like.
You are more than welcome to mail ( dms@dmsproject.com or dns@integris.se ) or ICQ (26623910) me if you want to know more.

Cheers/Dan



[This message has been edited by DmS (edited 09-23-2001).]

Fig
Paranoid (IV) Mad Scientist

From: Houston, TX, USA
Insane since: Apr 2000

IP logged posted posted 09-24-2001 16:17 Edit Quote

All you cool guys in Sweden, no fair...

Anyway, back on the conceptual front, I run thru lots of things with a client in an initial meeting to find out what it is they actually want. I have them show me sites they love, sites they hate, their competitors' sites. Do they have an existing marketing material, and do they like it?
(actual client quote from a multi-million dollar company whose logo you see often if you live in the states: "this is our logo, but we really don't like it or the colors so we don't want it very prominent on the site.") If they don't like their marketing material you might pitch for a brochure, letterhead, business cards, etc., along with the site if you've got the capability. Find out what they like and don't like about their competitors' sites and use that info very wisely. Most of all, stress that these initial concepts are for look and feel of the site, not content or final navigation/subnavigation. I've had clients turn down concepts only to later mention that "well, we liked that one but it didn't have the 'search' button on it".

Now with all that in mind, keep in mind that you are the designer here. While you're not a fine artist and your job is to meet their needs, they need to realize that they're hiring you for your expertise and they need to let you do your job as the designer. Then do it

Chris


KAIROSinteractive

WarMage
Maniac (V) Mad Scientist

From: Rochester, New York, USA
Insane since: May 2000

IP logged posted posted 09-24-2001 20:56 Edit Quote

Anything you write down and they sign is legally binding.

Anything you say to someone and they agree up is also legally binding.

However, something someone tells you does not hold up in the corts as well as something written and signed by them.

It is always a good idea to have a lawyer sit down and review your contract, or even to help you draft one. However, unless you are looking at clients who you expect to take for more than 100,000 (USD) it is not really needed.

I figure this way, because a company willing to spend upwards of 100,000 usually also has the money to hire a good lawyer, or has an existing legal department.

The better written the contract the better for you. When you write the contract you have to allow yourself an out, that satisfies them (I can pull out of project at any time refunding all money, and reclaiming all work. They can pull out but they forfiet all payments owed and given as well as all work performed).

This is a key here. Sometimes you will come across a client who you think might work well, but later turns out to be a major pain in the ass. This allows you an out, and if they want to keep the work they can, by paying for it. But if they decide they don't like you, then you have their downpayment, and a legal claim to all monies owed to you and your work.

Contracts are not that hard to do, you just have to account for all possibilities.

I really liked that 18% APR on all late payments of 15 days or greater.



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