Monday, August 17, 2009

Poorly Listed Gigs

A lot of my nights and weekends are spent on various freelance project from my great returning clients but occasionally if I have some spare time I will hop on CraigsList and see what else is out there. It is becoming an extremely annoying trend for potential clients to post listings in the Gigs section that really do not give anywhere near the correct amount of information needed for someone like me to properly respond and possible land that gig.
Poorly Listed Gigs
Here is an example of something that I found today that inspired me to post something...

Title: Graphic Designer

must be local. put sd in your subject line
Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver and Flash

sample work, phone number, expected compensation

Now that gives me a ton of information... NOT! I have been using Photoshop and Illustrator for close to ten years now and Dreamweaver and Flash for about five so I am more than qualified to do whatever they are requesting... and from the looks of their listing, any college student with 2 months of experience would also. The thought came to my mind that I would respond to their post but then I realized that it will end up going to some college student who will say that they can do whatever they ask for $20... with out knowing even what is needed.

I charge differently depending on the project. Most things can be a flat rate for the project, like a basic website, a Flash banner, or a logo design, but things like an update to a website or editing images, basically modifications and updates to things already created, I would charge by the hour. Different items take different levels of knowledge, experience, and skill and with that I charge accordingly. I have developed a lot of speed over the years so I can provide a large level of detail (I can make things look good) in less hours than others... so with that, I end up charging more than others might. Basically, they end up getting high quality of work but it it ends up getting done in less time, but they still end up paying about the same because it is done in less time but with a higher hourly rate. A more complex Flash animation might take me the same amount of time as a logo design, but since it is more in-depth and takes a higher level of knowledge, experience, and skill, it can end up costing more money all together than the logo would cost. So with the posting I listed above, there is really no way I would be able to properly give them the expected compensation since they gave really no information. And since the listing has no grammar or structure to it, it shows that they really are not that serous of a client. Such a post would never attract anyone who is capable of creating quality work and things like that will only attract students and those who will not be able to deliver anything worth having your business name on.

I also see a lot of "should only take a couple of hours" with a "compensation $50 max for a couple of hours of your time," and a lot of these types of listings require you to meet in person with them. A lot of students and inexperienced people might jump at it because it is a quick and easy gig, but they do not realize that this quick and easy thing might go over the 2 hours and they still have to take time to travel to the client. In a big county of San Diego and there being a large amount of traffic during rush hours, you could end up spending an hour or two+, round trip, just getting to your client. There is time taken going back and forth with this client over email before you even get the gig. Even if you don't have to meet with them in person, you still have to spend a lot of time communicating with them in order to figure out what exactly what they want before you even end up starting on the project. The bottom line is that nobody should take any of these small gigs that are worth less than $100 since you will most of the time end up working at least $50 worth of that getting to the client or just communicating with them over email or the phone. I have refused business that was under $150 before and tend to only do these quick and easy jobs for my returning clients who I have already established a good working relationship with, in which I am able to efficiently get what they need done quickly and affordable for them.

In a previous post I write about how I ended up meeting with a client 3 times and spending hours going back and forth over email with them about all sorts of change in directions they were taking with this Flash animation I was building for them. Sure, I provided great service and gave them exactly what they wanted, but all of this was just for $200. I received the $100 deposit up front and their check for the remaining $100 was made out to the wrong name (on my invoice in bold I list who to make it out to). I sent the check back and their President has not sent a new one back to me as promised. After several emails and calls, I still have nothing, but for just $100 it is really not worth me wasting any more time on it since I gave them what I can estimate being about $800+ worth of time and efforts.

Watch out for these quick and easy jobs and always account for the necessary time needed for communication and changes. Make sure you put that time in with how you quote them, even if it is an hourly estimate and not a flat rate.