Ladies and Gentlemen, I don’t want to alarm you, but:
Someone Was Rude on the Internet.
A blog post entitled How to Hire an Artist lit up the interwebs the other day with cries of disgust and outrage. In the brief post, the author outlined his preferred methods for finding artists for not a lot of money and holding them to deadlines.
Some of his tactics include making the artist suggest his or her price for the work (anchoring), withholding information about the project (protecting his interests) and using contract clauses that trigger payments to him if deadlines are missed (incentives).
To this, the Internet has responded: “Pathetic!” “Selfish!” “Twofaced!”
I’ve got another one for you: honest.
Everyone with whom you negotiate will not have your best interests at heart. They will not look out for you or help you. Sometimes they might even be unfair.
Now before you hate me and curse my unborn children, I think the advice in the article is crap. If you want good advice on hiring an artist (and a nice play-by-play reaction to the article) read this.
Whatever you think of Mr. Gregorio’s advice and how he presented it, it is a fantastic article on why you must must must learn the basics of negotiation and business if you’re going to be a freelancer.
1. Learn how to set your prices. Being the first person to name a price is called anchoring and it’s a very basic negotiation tactic. Sometimes it can actually work in your favor. None of those times are when someone forces you to do it. Knowing the value of your work before you begin the negotiation is the most important prep work you can do.
2. Ask questions. Asking questions is a quick and easy way to gather information to improve your negotiation position, but people rarely do it. Many people see it as rude and refrain, assuming the person they are negotiating with will be fair. Being fair and giving you all the information you need to negotiate well are two totally different things. Aside from that, as Mr. Gregorio points out, sometimes people just don’t share. Ask questions: make them share.
3. Read your contracts. All the way through. There are all sorts of interesting things in those guys, but if you don’t read them, you’ll never know. Not reading the contract before you sign is not an excuse for not living up to your obligations under the contract. If there is something in a contract you don’t agree with, say so and do something about it before you sign. Otherwise, it’s your fault when you miss a ridiculous deadline and learn you now owe them money.
4. Pay attention to who you’re working with. People who behave like asses in the past will likely behave like asses in the future. Similarly, people who are good to work with, will likely be good to work with in the future. Keep track of your experiences with clients and use that information when making decisions about working with them in the future. If you run across someone great (or someone evil), let your colleagues know. If you want to work in a good community, help make it good by promoting the folks that rock. Remember: folks like Mr. Gregorio only get ahead when people accept their behavior. You do not have to accept that kind of behavior.
Many thanks to the internet for ticking me off and making me want to write again; I needed that.