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What do you do with freelance projects that you don’t have time for or don’t want to do?

  • # May 14, 2012 at 10:55 am

    Hey guys,

    I have a question for anyone on the forum who does freelance work. I’m just wondering what you do when you have requests which you either don’t have time to do or you don’t want to do. Do you just turn them down? Do you have other freelance connections that you refer them to? Do you refer them to a freelancer friend and take a commission?

    The reason I ask is that I’m trying to cut back on freelance work as it’s taking up too much of my spare time so I find myself turning down quite a few decent requests. Most come through google as I’m right near the top for phrases like ‘minneapolis wordpress designer’ etc. Turning down 6 or 7 requests a month feels like I’m wasting opportunities though. I don’t want to do freelance full-time for a bunch of reasons and I’ve steered away from subcontracting in the past for because; a) I don’t have a network of other designers/developers that I know/trust to contract out to, b) I’m worried they’ll do a bad job and it will either reflect poorly on me or I’ll spend half my time fixing their mistakes, and c) I’m not good at the business side of things.

    Does anyone have any advice for me?

    A big thanks in advance!


    # May 14, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    I’ve always been in a situation where I’ve been able to recommend somebody else. This works for me for two reasons.

    1) I’m still helping the client get their project done which, barring any disasters with the new dev/designer, makes me just as memorable

    2) I start getting jobs from other freelancers when they are too busy.

    To ensure #1, you gotta make sure you trust the person you are handing the project off to. While it’s certainly not your fault that it could go wrong, you are still the one that made the recommendation.

    # May 14, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    Yep.. I have to say turn them down.. or if there is a trusted designer you know.. refer them. I’m not really interested a referral fee. That kinda keeps your mind tied to a project your not working on. If you are handling a LOT of referrals and it just seems like leaving money on the table.. how about you start considering starting a ‘Design Studio’ with the people you would be referring all those clients to?

    # May 14, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    @TheDoc Haha, what? That’s very confusing. How does that make you memorable in a positive light with the client if something goes wrong with the designer or developer you recommended? That would only make you memorable in the clients mind to most likely, never come to you again for outsourcing. I agree with the very last statement you made in which it is absolutely important to trust someone because, in a way, that person is also representing you.

    Unless you’re doing some of the work I don’t think it would be appropriate to take a commission? I think if you can’t recommend someone that you can trust, I would always recommend them to sign up for a scout account on dribbble and let them find someone to hire.

    # May 14, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    @ChristopherBurton – maybe you misread? Or maybe it’s Monday and I haven’t had enough coffee? I only hand over projects to people that I trust, that is super important.

    # May 14, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    Edit: I have misread that

    I read that without noticing the comma. That made it seem like you were saying “even if there were to be a disaster, I’m still just as memorable”.

    Have to love Monday’s.

    # May 14, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    @johnnyb refer them to me, I’ll take the work.

    If I had 6 or 7 a month I’d go fulltime freelance, I know I could market myself to fill in the gaps.

    Seriously, you should try to find people near you that you CAN trust, they might be a better fit for some of the projects you get anyway. Like a Ferrari specialist.

    # May 14, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    When I don’t have someone to refer a particular project to, I will simply let them know what the situation is: “I’ve got my hands full right now. I should have an opportunity to start on your project in _x_ weeks.”

    People don’t always have the time to wait, but the ones that do usually turn out to be great clients (even if they’re just “one-time” clients).

    # May 15, 2012 at 10:47 am

    Hey thanks everyone for the ideas. I know a few people locally but none of them I consider accomplished enough to take on these projects. @Schmotty, I’ll keep you in mind in future – can you message me some details on your skillset? @ChristopherBurton, thanks for the tip on the dribbble scout account – that’s a good idea. To answer your question though, I don’t think it’s inappropriate to take a commission or a “finder’s fee” if I’m passing on work to someone. That’s essentially what any design agency does.
    @traq, thanks for the suggestion, after I finish up my current projects I’m looking to take a break for the rest of this year though and so I doubt anyone’s gonna want to wait till next year!
    @mrtwebdesign, I like the idea of starting a design studio, I might look into something like that later this year. Thanks for the idea!

    Thanks again guys.

    # May 15, 2012 at 11:27 am

    That was my fault. Wrong punctuation. I have worked at an agency and I can assure you that’s not always the case. To me it just seems like a desperate way to gain. Again, that’s simply my own opinion but this is also an entirely separate subject.

    # May 15, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    I also agree that a finder’s fee isn’t something that’s inappropriate to ask for, but I’d suggest making it fairly low. Let me know if you get a design studio idea working… that honestly sounds very intriguing. I’ve had loads of times when I wished I had some extra development hands as I typically focus on the visual stuff. I still haven’t managed to find someone local that is reliable and in times where I’m up to my eyeballs in projects, it sure would be a breath of fresh air heh.

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