Top 5 Unprofessional Habits When Dealing with a Freelancer or Small Business

Hello!

Being polite might seem like an inconvenience, but it goes a long way towards being seen as professional.

As an author, freelancer, or small business, you are your brand. How you treat others reflects on you, your service, or your product.

When you treat others rudely, you show a lack of respect and it can be quite hurtful. Some also hold grudges.

This image of a person with a trashcan for a head made me laugh. Artist Jono Doiron http://www.jonodoiron.com/

5. Talking Trash

This should be the most obvious. If you didn’t like the service or product you should let the person know first.

I’m obviously not against airing my disappointment with a brand online or in person, but there’s a difference between not being happy and being treated badly.

Not being happy with something you paid for is unfortunate but something that needs to be negotiated with the provider first.

4. Negative Negotiation

I have been told, “Your stuff is good for someone who doesn’t do it professionally” as a lead up to asking me to lower my prices. I let the client know that after twenty years of experience in being paid to do layout, I’d consider myself a professional. (Yes, my first paid projects were when I was 15-16.)

It’s a common technique to compare products or say things like, “My cousin could do this for free” or “I can do it myself” in order to try and get a discount.

Stop doing it. If you want a professional then they will cost.

That being said there are plenty of other ways to negotiate. For example, if I do more than one job for a product I’ll give a discount. (Eg. Ebook =150; Print = 150; but Print + Ebook is 250)

3. Being Antagonistic

Things happen during a project. Things could not be clear and something isn’t what you wanted. Talk to the person and work it through. Don’t be snarky, most likely they didn’t do it on purpose. A type or misalignment or wrong flavour, etc… Just talk to them and they’ll fix it.

2. Not saying Thank You

There’s no need to send a gift basket or anything grand. Just a small email saying thank you for your work. That’s classy and makes everyone happy.

1. Ghosting

In the past I’ve worked on a project for a client, then they asked me to clear time or give a quote for further related projects. I waited and never heard back from them. Then I saw on social media that they’d gone with someone else.

I don’t care that they went with someone else, but it would have been nice for them to let me know. I could have supplied the source files for the first project and I would have wished them luck. Since they switched after the first in a series of projects, without telling me, it shows a great lack of professional respect.

If you ask for a quote and decide to go in another direction, let the person know. Or let them know you’re asking others for quotes in the first email.

Any of these things can be rude, thoughtless, or just annoying. They are all unprofessional and in some cases will make a Freelancer or Small Business not work with you in the future.


Is there anything I missed? What do you think?

Éric

DIY or FML?

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I have noticed something strange among people I know (or follow online). It transcends age groups, social groups, and economic groups.

There seems to be a collective “looking down the nose” towards people who don’t do it themselves.

Snobbism?

How did this come about? I’m not sure. I assume it’s the backlash to big businesses selling and doing everything (and doing it as cheap quality as possible); the same backlash that has seen a resurgence of crafts people and small businesses.

But when did, “Oh, that’s hand-made? Where’d you get it?”, turn into disdain because we didn’t make it ourselves?

Maybe it’s the hundreds of DIY shows that make it look like people who know nothing suddenly can do amazing things. Reality (show) check; they’re coached and taught by professionals.

Ego?

Because there is so much information on the internet about everything and a lot of websites that trick you into thinking you’re doing it yourself for cheaper, people assume that they can do anything.

And that might be fine for a drywall patch or a regular dessert or even setting up your television system. However, no one is perfect or good at everything. When I make a cake it tastes good and looks like something a toddler put together. I know so little about drywall that if I tried alone I’d probably just screw it up.

It’s ok to admit that you don’t know everything and can’t do everything.

Small Business and Freelance Professionals

I know why this happens and how to fix it.
I know why this happens and how to fix it.

There are certain things you might be good at and that’s wonderful, work on those and improve yourself. Maybe you have the persistence to turn it into a career.

As a Freelance Layout Artist, I have worked on my profession for years. I did my first professional book layout 17 years ago and I’ve been doing it for private and government for 10 years. I have tools, tricks, and resources that most people don’t. The same goes for your friends and family who are professionals in their trade.

Do you know the downfall of most freelancers and small businesses? It’s not that they suck at what they do or that they aren’t skilled in their craft. It’s the business part that’s hard. It forces us to stop working on our passions to become salespeople.

You’re not Bothering Us!

My wife is a travel consultant. Read her travel articles, and contact her for all your travel needs.

She and I get plenty of emails that start with or include, “Sorry for bothering you” or “I know it’s a hassle”. It’s NOT, it’s our job and we love it.

If I could lay out fiction books for the rest of my life, I probably would never retire. It’s my passion and something I enjoy greatly.

My wife relishes finding the best price for someone. My photographer friends love taking pictures. My baker friends love baking. My clothes making friends love making clothes. My graphic artist friends love art-ing. Etc. Etc. Etc.

No one starts a small business, or goes freelance, unless they love what they do.

MONEY!

It all comes down to money. Some people DIY because they can’t afford anything else… or can they?

I understand that not everyone can afford to buy coffee from JenEric Coffee. It’s a luxury item and I don’t get annoyed seeing people drink Starbucks.

I do cringe when I see friends and family booking cruises or vacations “on their own.” No one books travel “on their own”. They use online sites with catchy names. These sites charge you for the privilege of searching for your own travel. Good travel agents make their money by taking the commission from the vendor not the traveller. That means the cruise ship pays commission not you. (Airfare is different and requires a small fee but is usually cheaper than doing it yourself.) So you don’t pay for a travel agent and they can get you better deals than doing it yourself.

Every profession is different but most don’t, or shouldn’t, charge a fee for discussing what you want. And if they do charge a service fee, they are obligated to tell you so at the beginning of the conversation. We love our jobs and are more than willing to discuss things with you. I’ll talk margins, kerning, and fonts all day (and I have).

My Point

Before you waste long amounts of time, get a quote or extra information from your friends who do it for a living. You might be surprised at the amount of frustration and money you’ll save in the end.

And if you truly want to do it yourself, ask us to teach you. I’ll gladly teach you how to roast your own coffee, or work with InDesign.

Éric

Éric’s 5 Rules for Being Professional

Hello my Imaginary Friends,

I was taught from a young age that the secret to professionalism was subservience.

  • Don’t make eye contact;
  • Call people Ma’am and Sir;
  • Never call an adult, client, or superior by their first name;
  • Always use formal pronouns (It’s a French thing);
  • Don’t complain;
  • Don’t get involved; and
  • Don’t look or act differently than others.

It could be that my rural upbringing was extra strict or it could just be the area. If you wanted respect, you needed to give back to the community, or have money.

My mother isn’t who taught me this, she was a progressive feminist hippie. She taught me to judge people’s worth by what they did and said, not by their money or appearance.

This post by a nurse with amazing hair brought back a lot of frustrations for me. As have countless other articles or posts about “Kids these days”. You know, the ones about Pokémon Go, or those I’ve already complained about.

The world is changing quickly and everyone is dealing with it differently. Some are nostalgic for the 90s, some are lost in hate, and others are just delusional.

I deal with clients or customers in all of my jobs (Civil Servant, Layout Artist, Sales person, Coffee Roaster, and Author) and I think I can speak with some authority on how to be professional in this new and changing world.

Éric’s 5 Rules for Being Professional

5. Treat Everyone Equally

Respecting everyone and treating them as your equal is easy but has a huge effect. People like to feel valued and will think better of you for doing it. Nobody likes being treated as stupid or beneath them.

Don’t assume that because they’re wearing biker gear, that they’re part of the Hell’s Angels. They could just as easily be a Doctor or Lawyer that likes to ride a motorcycle.

It’s important to remember that this is about respect and not assimilation or standardization. Treating someone equally also means respecting their ways, beliefs, and how they want to be treated.

4. Judge Others by Their Actions

This is the simplest rule. If someone wears the perfect suit and looks like the perfect employee, it doesn’t mean they’re good at their job.

Don’t judge someone by their race, skin colour, make up, ethnicity, sex, gender, body alterations, sexual preference, clothing, religion, weight, attractiveness, etc.

Judge them by how well they do their job and how they treat other people. You can learn a lot about a person by how they interact with someone who can’t benefit them personally.

3. Never Denigrate Others to Elevate Yourself

If you’re good at what you do, be proud. Tell people that you’re proud. I am immensely proud of my book. It’s ok to tell people that you think your stuff is awesome.

Never denigrate others to elevate yourself. My book is a YA Urban fantasy and I think it’s entertaining, but I’m not going to sell it as better than *insert popular YA here*.

By insulting others you are not showing pride in your work but disdain for others. It doesn’t elevate you, it brings others down. This applies even when the other person’s work is absolute crap.

2. Work with Others

Those people you insulted? They have strengths and weaknesses. If they’re in your field, you’ll be around them again.

If you work with those you consider competition, they become allies. Sharing information can greatly improve both your work.

There are people who just suck and you don’t want to be around. They may be purposely mean, hateful, or destructive. It’s ok to cut those people out of your life or request not to work with them.

But remember #3.

1. Be Polite

Being polite is nebulous and fraught with cultural bias. In its most basic form being polite means the same as all the other rules.

But go one step further and say: Thank you, Please, and Sorry. To Everyone!

If someone accidentally hurts you, physically or emotionally, accept their apology. An I understand, or I accept your apology.

If someone does something for you, thank them.

Finally try your best to follow the immortal words of Wyld Stallyns:

“Be excellent to each other!”

bill-and-ted

Éric