When it comes to freelancing, reliability is massively important commodity. This is doubly true for remote freelancing since people never get a chance to meet each other in person. Clients who know they can rely on you are happy clients that keep coming back. As a remote freelancer I’ve been both a service provider and a buyer of services. If you play this game long enough, you’ll work with some stand up designers and developers and you’ll work with some freakin’ awful ones.
One guy, lets call him Wingnut, vanished on me like a fart in the wind on the tail end of a project. He was working on the front-end design for a site and two weeks into it he disappears. Trying to call him or email him yielded no reply so I start making alternative arrangements to get the job done. Meanwhile, he is updating his blog and obviously not dead.
A day later, Matt emails me a link to a design forum where some other guy is mad as hell with for the same reason: Wingnut went MIA on him too. Will I ever use that guy again or recommend him to anyone? Hell no. Does he care? Probably not.
It’s inconvenient to get let down by people yet I love that there are so many unreliable people around and you should too, here’s why…
Chances are that your clients (both existing and potential) have dealt with their own Wingnuts in the past and this gives you a chance to shine by merely being a decent, accountable human being.
This one is easy: don’t do it, ever. Unless you get eaten alive by a shark, abducted by aliens or incapacitated for some reason then don’t ever vanish on a client. It’s very poor form and there are few things worse for adversely affecting ones reputation.
Life happens and we’re all going to be late on a delivery now and then. If you know you are going to be late for a delivery, simply drop your client a quick email and let them know.
“Dave, A quick note to let you know that I am a little behind schedule. My apologies for the hold up. I’ll be in touch soon with an update.”
It takes mere seconds to email something like that to your client and you know what? Unless there is some red hot deadline in question, chances are said client will understand and be cool about it. Keeping Dave informed like that means customer satisfaction is generated in the blink of an eye and an otherwise awkward position is immediately diffused. Naturally, you’ll want to keep these kinds of emails to a low and tolerable frequency!
If you know you are going to miss a deadline, no matter how small, the absolute worst thing you can do is do nothing. Doing nothing is the same as a temporary vanish. The deadline will pass, Dave will be wondering “WTF?” and his respect for you will drop. Do this enough times and Dave will go looking for someone he can count on.
Lastly, if you are going to miss a deadline, don’t make the mistake of thinking that Just because you know you are going to deliver in a few hours (or a day, or whatever) that it’s OK not to update your client. It’s definitely not OK.
If you are going to be late, be professional and accountable by letting your client know and shine above the likes of Wingnut for doing so.
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