I won’t mince words. One of the glorious benefits of being a freelancer is that I get to choose how I want to work, and who I want to work with. Client relationships are very important to me—as important as the work. To help you figure out if this is a good match, here’s a little bit of information on how I like to work.
I’m a real fan of email, mostly because it gives me a written record of tasks, edits, thoughts and ideas. Phone calls and in person meetings don’t do that—unless my notes are perfect—and it’s really difficult to take great notes while engaging in a conversation. I’m also a one-woman show, so I don’t have someone answering my phone for me. Every time the phone rings it interrupts whatever I’m doing and destroys my workflow.
Phone calls and meetings certainly have their place. Phone calls are great for bouncing ideas back and forth, and engaging in conversations that can be too complicated for email. Meeting in person is great for finding out about compatibility and personality. I rarely meet in person with my clients past that initial meeting. We live in an age where there is very little need to meet in person, and to be completely honest I find most meetings to be a waste of time—mine and yours. Between travel time, the usual small talk and then a very short actual work conversation, we’ve turned a short phone call or a two paragraph email into a two hour excursion. I’ve worked in agencies burdened by constant meetings and it feels great to finally be free of that world.
Death to meetings!
I’m a very organized person. I’m at my best when I’m working with another organized person. I do recognize that while organization may be important to me, it’s not important to everyone. However, I mentioned previously that design is about solving problems, and the less organized the ideas and content that I receive, the more problems I have to solve (and let’s be honest—I bill hourly, so the more this costs you). You’ll get the best out of me if the only problems I have to solve are design problems—spending time sorting through convoluted instructions or incomplete/confusing content shifts my focus away from what it is you’ve hired me to do for you.
I’m a one-woman-show, so I try to keep admin time to a minimum. My contract is written in simple, easy-to-understand language because like me, most of my clients are small businesses and don’t have a legal team to review. For new clients I always require a contract and a 50% deposit (based on an estimate) to start on a project. For regular clients I relax much of the red tape once we’ve established trust and a solid working relationship.
I design from my home office in the West End of Vancouver. I have my own server, a gigantic screen, and a motorized standing desk. I listen to music as loud as I like. I have cats for coworkers. I go for runs in Stanley Park on my lunch break. What I’m saying is I have a pretty sweet setup here, and this is where I do my work. If you’re looking for a designer to work in-house on a contract basis, that designer isn’t me.
Did you know that the 8 hour work day was originally intended to be a maximum, and not a minimum (as it seems to have become)? While it’s true that I enjoy what I do, I certainly don’t enjoy every minute of it, and I certainly don’t want to spend all of my waking time doing it. Now that I’m a freelancer I am directly accountable for my own work-life balance. Having hobbies and spending time with the people I care about is incredibly important to me, and it’s what re-energizes me every day to do what I do. Downtime is also crucial to creativity and critical thinking. A burnt out mind is a limited mind.
Of course, there are always going to be projects that require a few more extra hours during the week to meet deadlines (and they are almost always offset by some leaner weeks). I do ask that you respect the fact that even though I’m a contractor, I’m also a human being and the hours outside of a normal work day (generally 9–5:30 for me) belong to me, unless it’s already been established that I’ll be working extended hours. One would think that this would be a given, but considering how often I get phone calls late in the evening or on the weekend for questions/requests that are a) not time sensitive, and b) ideal for an email, it seems as though it might not hurt to mention it here.