Wondering why your freelancer is speaking to you in a condescending tone? Are they having a bad day? Is it something you did or said? Well, you’d better dissect your last conversation!
If you’ve just started working with freelancers recently, you’re probably not aware of the one-liners that drive them insane. In most cases, these are phrases that clients have used in the past to take advantage of where they are most vulnerable.
Sometimes, we easily forget that freelancers are humans too. Whether you occasionally meet them in a café or they are working remotely in a distant country, freelancers are still human beings. They are daughters, sons, fathers, or mothers who also need work to support themselves. They are not robots without feelings!
So, if you want to maintain a healthy relationship with your freelancer, you must know the phrases that make any contractor do a cathartic eye roll.
1. “This project is not yet funded, but we will definitely have a budget for the next one.”
Freelancers are desperate to please potential clients, and in some cases, they’d be willing to do initial work for free. However, it is not ethical to take advantage of their vulnerability by asking for unpaid results.
Picture this: You walk into a pizza parlor and order a slice. You take a bit and realize that something in the pizza doesn’t suit your taste. Do you walk out of the place without paying for the slice? Of course not!
Every single worker in the freelancing realm has encountered this phrase. In most cases, the promise didn’t come back to them. No client has ever said, “Since we weren’t able to pay you for the last project, we’re doubling our payment for this one!”
2. “I’m running around [or rarely go online], so I may not be available to review your work promptly.”
Every freelancer knows that with this phrase comes a late payment. No one appreciates it when you nickel-and-dime them. So, do not make your freelancer wait too long for your payment.
Also, you shouldn’t let your freelancer go through an antiquated process of submitting tons of paperwork before they can get their payment. There is such a thing as an electronic payment. If you do not know what PayPal is, look it up.
You might see articles saying that there are no clear standards or guidelines on paying freelancers. Whoever agrees to that icould not be more wrong!
As with any business transaction, you and your freelancer should find ways to make processes easier. Find the most convenient way of payment and make sure you handle fees promptly.
3. “Do whatever you want.”
Usually, this phrase translates as, “I have no idea what I want to do. So, I’ll let you guess what’s on my mind.”
Freelancers are not mind-readers, neither are they therapists who can untangle your jumbled thoughts. When you do not give proper guidelines to your freelancer, they will work blindly towards no direction. Consequently, you may end up reworking the project from the ground up.
It is crucial that you determine what you need from the start. If you want to gain an insight into their creativity, then be clear about it. If you already have something in mind, discuss the core idea with the freelancer. You can also engage in an in-depth conversation and exchange suggestions.
While we’re on the topic of clarity, you shouldn’t change tacks midway through the project. Of course, both parties can expect minor changes, which are fine. That said, you shouldn’t make major tweaks to an assignment once your freelancer has taken full reign over the project.
Here’s a fair agreement: If you ask for something and decide that you want to take a different path, pay for a separate project.
4. “This is urgent.”
Let’s be clear on this one. There are instances where it’s perfectly reasonable to ask for faster turnaround time. Let’s say that there’s a big holiday coming up and it would be the ideal opportunity to release your product to the market.
However, there are limitations to this privilege. For example, you shouldn’t use the ‘urgent’ card all the time—it’s just borderline abuse!
There is a reason why these workers are called ‘freelancers.’ They are not tied to a single company, so, they have the freedom to work with multiple clients. Now, the moment you decide to work with a contractor, you also accept this truth:
“The world does not revolve around you.”
If you still think that every task should be completed in a rush, then maybe you need to manage your projects more efficiently. To build a lasting relationship with your freelancer, you need to respect their time as well. If the task is urgent, ask them for their earliest turnaround time, then try to meet them halfway.
5. “In exchange for your work, we will provide you with great exposure.”
We can see freelancers collectively rolling their eyes on this one. You won’t say this line on your employees, right? After all, they are working for you because you pay them. The same is true with freelancers.
Of course, networking is crucial to freelancers, and exposure is not totally useless to them. However, exposure does not guarantee them much—fair payments do. Potential clients do not pay a lot of attention to how exposed a freelancer’s craft is. Instead, they will care about their portfolio. Ideally, free work is completely acceptable if it is charity work for a non-profit organization.
6. “Other folks can do this for a cheaper price.”
There is a fine line between facilitating reasonable negotiations and being a straight-up, pompous jerk. Times are changing and freelancers know better. They now abide by the principle, “Once a cheap ass, always a cheap ass.” So, when you tell them that other people can do that job for a lower fee, you’re raising a big, red flag. Usually, this rude statement makes them think that you’ll continue to pay them unreasonably low fees for future projects.
You’ll be lucky if they answer your remark politely by saying, “Your offer sounds tempting, but I’d have to regretfully decline.” That said, don’t take our word for it. These days, many freelancers do not choose to throw shade—they inflict serious burns!
If you can’t afford the freelancer’s services, it is better to be honest and tell them politely. Keep in mind that insulting the person is not the mature way to get what you want from them. There are various ways to negotiate rates without being rude to the contractor. Here are some ways you can reasonably haggle with your freelancer:
I’m sorry, but my budget cannot go above $____.
I was looking to stay below $____.
The absolute highest I can do is $____.
A word of advice: cheap freelancers usually have cheap ethics. It won’t be surprising if your contractor tries to earn back what you owe them. They won’t keep the output exclusive to you and they will likely sell their work to other clients.
7. “Are you sure you’ve sent your invoice?”
Of course, they’ve definitely sent their invoice—it’s the only paperwork that they’re genuinely excited to process! Freelancers are tired of hearing that there’s something wrong with their client’s email service. They have bills due for the month. So, it wouldn’t be fair to send them their check by the following payday.
If there are technical issues from your end, make sure you fix them promptly. Check if some important emails find their way into the junk folder. If this is the case, then make special arrangements to send your freelancer’s payment the soonest, even if it’s outside the company’s regular financial schedule.
There are sweet rewards from becoming your freelancer’s favorite client. You don’t have to be their child’s godparent, but you can still establish a long-lasting professional relationship with them. Keep in mind that your freelancer can be a source of new contacts as well. If the stars align, you may find yourself right before the doorstep of new business opportunities!