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Freelancing: I act like an employee, my client acts like an employer

Discussion in 'Hustles, Freelancing, Bootstrapping' started by Ika, Sep 21, 2017.

  1. Ika
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    Ika Busy Idiot Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Recently one of my clients started micromanaging me – he wanted me to track every task in Trello and wanted me to write a detailed daily report about what I’ve done and how I’ve done it.

    In short: He treated me like an employee.


    That made me think.

    Normally I envisioned a client–freelancer relationship like a win-win situation.
    I give you value, you give me money.
    We are both equal entrepeneurs.

    But then I analysed all of my client relationships. And I’ve noticed that in every one I act like an employee while my client acts like an employer.


    The fault is definetly on my side.

    It probably comes from my our first contact, my communication, my presence.
    Maybe I’m seeking permission for certain task.
    Maybe I let the client make the big decisions (and thus take on the risk).
    Maybe I'm choosing the wrong type of clients.


    What can I do to stop acting like an employee?

    The answer sounds quite simple - do the opposite of the small list above.
    Make more decisions?
    Set more boundaries?


    But do you have any more concret tips on how to be seen 'equal'?
    What can I do with existing client relationships, how can I turn them around?


    Thank you!
     
  2. Ayanle Farah
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    Ayanle Farah Bronze Contributor Speedway Pass

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    You're not an entrepreneur if you're a freelancer, so you're not equal in that aspect.

    Other than that, it comes down to your trackrecord and how important the job in particular is, how much they're paying you, the deadline for the project, how many revisions they can afford etc.

    There are many factors at play which determines the nature of your relationship.

    If your current client started micromanaging you when they didn't do this previously it means you didn't live up to their expectations somehow and they regret hiring you to a certain extent. It could also mean they just want to stay updated on how your perform and based on this may decide they'd like you to do similar projects in the future.

    If you don't like how you're being treated you can either go with the flow, complete the project and take this as a lesson or end it and save time for both of you.

    If you're using a freelance website like Upwork then don't worry if you don't get a good review, from the way you described your situation I doubt you'll get anything noteworthy for future clients.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2017
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  3. ZCP
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    ZCP Legendary Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    You billing by time or task?
    Bill by the task. Add 'updates' and 'daily reports' as a billable task. Charge for it.
    And have some confidence in your self and your work.
     
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  4. AgainstAllOdds
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    AgainstAllOdds Legendary Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Freelancing is just another form of being an employee.

    You're trading time for money.

    If you want to be treated differently, then become an agency. Hire other people and manage them/growth.
     
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  5. BrooklynHustle
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    BrooklynHustle Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Good for you for realizing the situation and wanting to change things

    Read this e-book on value-based pricing if you haven't before: freshbooks.com/breakingthetimebarrier

    Will only take a couple hours & it should definitely help. First saw it in @Fox's GOLD thread
     
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  6. jpanarra
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    jpanarra Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    I second this... The way i see it because I'm freelancing right now under my company name is that at the moment I'm being an employee to build a system to hire employees to do what I do. Then from that point on I can focus on scaling the business which is the transition of becoming an employer, freelancing is the first step that needs to be taken to be an employer IMO.
     
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  7. Lex DeVille
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    Lex DeVille Sweeping Shadows from Dreams Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    I thought I blocked you, yet here's more of your valuable freelance wisdom. Like that time you said getting work on Upwork was a waste of time because it's too saturated. Remember that? In case you don't, here's a quote of your words:

    And another one ..

    Then I started a brand new profile, with no credibility markers, sent 1 proposal, and started working with a company that got a deal on Shark Tank, and then went on to pick up 5-figure clients and referrals all in the last 6 months. You didn't post much in my thread after that. You linked to your own progress thread, but haven't updated since February, so I'll assume that was too saturated also, and you quit again.

    So I hope OP will take your words with a grain of salt, because you actually don't know wtf you're talking about, and I say that as a freelancer who makes actual money on Upwork, and has actual years (as in plural) of experience dealing with this situation.

    ---

    This part is for the OP, @Ika

    Actual words of wisdom based on real experience, not on limited mindset..

    1) Your solution starts with your proposal as you suggested. To avoid this situation, you do have to pick and choose your clients carefully. Pay attention to how their job post looks. If it's broken down into a whole bunch of tiny details, then that's a good sign they'll micromanage. If you start by figuring out what kind of clients you like to work with, and only apply to gigs when you're certain they're a fit for you, you'll avoid most of your trouble.

    2) If you're not already doing this, you need to get the client on a call before you work with them. Until you meet them face to face (or ear to ear) it's hard to get a feel for who they are. Sometimes I think a client is a good fit until we talk, then I end up turning them away because I discover they're not who I thought they were and I can't help them after all. This can't happen through chat, only by phone or Skype. Plus, asking for a phone call positions you differently in their mind, because most freelancers are too afraid to go beyond chat like a real business.

    3) Draft a service agreement. On the call is where you ask questions and get clear about what they want and what they expect from you. Assuming you decide to move forward, you need a service agreement that specifically details exactly what you will and won't do. If you won't be on call 24/7, then it needs to be in the agreement. If you'll charge for Skype calls, put it in there. If micromanaging is an issue, put it in there. Also be sure to detail the EXACT DELIVERABLES. 5 x Emails. 2 x Blog posts. 1 x Sales Page etc. Do not work with clients until they've signed your agreement stating exactly what you will and won't do. If they won't sign it, they can get lost.

    Everything else is confidence you build over time. But if you start treating your freelance career like a business, and operating as a contractor, you'll shift the way clients see and treat you. You're right that acting like an employee gives them room to take the employer role. Instead, your role is a doctor and they are your patients. You are there to solve a problem for them, and you are the expert. If they don't like it, or don't agree to your approach, then send them to another doctor who can better help them.

    P.S. That last paragraph is also the solution to the question, "how do I get clients who pay high rates?"
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2017
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  8. RogueInnovation
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    RogueInnovation Gold Contributor Speedway Pass

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    Well, I deal with CEOs at times
    Who TELL ME "don't let me be the boss" cuz they don't want to be
    SHOW your skill, let them relax, as you go get results AND ask enough precise questions
    Be a pro
     
  9. Guest3722A
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    I think it's great you're getting this type of feedback. Use it to prepare for future clients who will be like this. Then put them in your little game of chess. Meaning, if they make move x, you're already familiar and prepared to counter with move y. And on a side note, don't forget that sometimes you have to tell people how you want to be treated. If you're good, they'll most likely know already and don't be afraid to drop a client if you can afford it. I eliminate stress immediately and yet my service business keeps growing.
     
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  10. jpanarra
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    jpanarra Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Great advice here... I'll be following some of it myself! Once again, thanks LEX!
     
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  11. Dunkafelics
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    Dunkafelics Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

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    This is a valuable framework and advice right here for contracting yourself on UpWork. Bookmarked for sure!
     
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  12. Ayanle Farah
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    Ayanle Farah Bronze Contributor Speedway Pass

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    Well I wasn't exactly wrong in my statement. You asked me to stop posting in your thread because you considered it to be spamming so I stopped, I haven't looked at your thread since.

    Apparently you thought you blocked me but you go out of your way to look at an old thread of mine(why look for someone you seemingly blocked?) while accusing me of avoiding your thread when you're the one who told me to not post anymore, you don't seem a very consistent guy yourself.

    Fyi I haven't quit what I was doing but you don't deserve to know more than that and I feel I am qualified to talk about freelancing, I'm not afraid to admit I failed in it and I'm not saying I know everything which nobody does so I will give advice on what I feel confident in, F*ck off.
     
  13. Brian C.
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    Brian C. Rolling Thunder Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    I don't know where @Ayanle Farah comes off saying that freelancers aren't entrepreneurs. Don't really see his point of view there.

    OP, the employee/employer dilemma is quite real for you because it is; at least at this point it seems.

    But even as a freelancer, you are your own business, you know? You're representing your brand albeit through an independent contractor role. 1099 style here in the USA, if I'm not mistaken.

    Once I started a legitimate business via a marketing agency, and even before I took on contractors and employees, my client relationships started changing. I could fire any client that I didn't want to work with, and shit - you can even do that now! That really changes your relationship quite quick.

    And you certainly can create a business off Upwork or any other Freelance platform and expand from there. It's "Fastlane," and it's real.

    Forum Message.png
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2017
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  14. Ayanle Farah
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    Ayanle Farah Bronze Contributor Speedway Pass

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    The way I see it, if you selling time for money then you're not very different from an employee and that's what freelancers do, being able to choose who you work for or when you work doesn't make you an entrepreneur.

    Putting the time in to sell a product or service that is independent of your own time is what fastlane entrepreneurs do, like MJ says.

    My comment isn't meant to be taken literally and I should've clarified my point but they're different strictly speaking.

    I know many freelancers who find success like to sell courses on their expertise, that goes beyond freelancing, that's just one example so I know you can transition from freelancing to entrepreneurship, just like you can do the same having a regular job.

    I don't think we're in disagreement.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2017
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  15. Brian C.
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    Brian C. Rolling Thunder Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Appreciate the logic man, some good points.

    You have to consider, and I'm speaking in theoretical hopefuls here, but don't you expect freelancers to become more efficient?

    To spend less time on subsequent tasks? To be able to reference & utilize their past work portfolio? To get better at what they do?

    I guess that's the hope rather than the expectation, but from me at least, you kind of expect freelancers to naturally expand if they're finding any success. Just like any entrepreneur would.

    Trading time for money is the stage of freelancing most freelancers seem to be stuck in, which isn't all bad. It's a great way to learn something valuable, be integrated & contributing to the business community, earn a dollar, and grow your personal portfolio of credibility. I've learned more about business and marketing than any other W2 paying job could possibly offer.

    I'm not here to debate whether trading time for money is or isn't Fastlane because I think I know the answer, but I'm here to tell you that Freelancing can easily be made time independent, just as you stated.

    And i'm here to tell the OP that once you stop acting as an employee, but rather an employer of sorts, your relationship begins to change.
     
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  16. Joe Cassandra
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    Joe Cassandra Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    You're mixing up so many different words and putting them in a pot.

    An entrepreneur is anyone who takes great financial risk to succeed in a business venture. I quit my job with over $221k in debt and a stay at home wife and toddler. I'm not an entrepreneur according to you.

    But, the guy selling $5 widgets online and broke is an entrepreneur simply because he hears a *ding* once a day from someone buying his widget?

    No.

    Fastlane means you run a business free of your time.
    Fastlane EQUALS entrepreneurship...but entrepreneurship DOES NOT equal fastlane. Your first few years of building your "fastlane" business will be you doing all the grunt work.

    The guy remodeling our bathroom is just as much an entrepreneur as Mark Zuckerberg. But, he doesn't have a very scalable business so he's never going to be 100% fastlane while Zuck will be.

    Many people get their start on the fastlane by doing more 'entrepreneurship' work like freelancing. The first skill you need to learn to become fastlane is LEARN HOW TO MAKE $1. It's an invaluable skill that took me years to learn.
     
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  17. Lex DeVille
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    Lex DeVille Sweeping Shadows from Dreams Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    For anyone reading this who's new to the forum, here's some more actual knawledge based on real-world experience rather than pipe dreams and what "people I know" have done.

    1) Freelancers can set up commissions, referrals, and revenue share deals and earn ongoing income without extra work.
    2) People who quit before they get that far wouldn't know that..
    3) It's not about choosing who you work for, it's about choosing who you work with..
    4) People with a poor mindset wouldn't see that..
    5) What fastlane entrepreneurs do.. is whatever the F*ck they want.
    6)
    People who aren't fastlane entrepreneurs define it otherwise.
    7) Comments that aren't meant to be taken literally shouldn't be positioned as literal advice.
    8) Just because some people do things one way doesn't mean everybody does it that way.
    9) Just because you mix in generally true statements, doesn't mean the rest of your advice is good or useful.
    10) Just because you're confident, doesn't mean your advice is valuable.
    11) Just because you hide your insecurities and excuses within your words doesn't mean they can't be seen.

    Freelancers are entrepreneurs.

    Doubters, nay-sayers, victims, and people who discourage others based on their own acidic mindsets, even when it's done passively, are NOT entrepreneurs. Just kids kidding themselves.
     
  18. Ayanle Farah
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    Ayanle Farah Bronze Contributor Speedway Pass

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    I agree with what you said and yes, the OP can definitely avoid being treated as an employee.

    Look, I'm not trying to put anyone down and I hope it works out for you.

    We can have different definitions aslong as we recognize none of the definitions are fixed.

    You said yourself to be fastlane you first need to learn how to make $1 and I agree so the guy selling $5 widgets online would be an entrepreneur, not saying you're not(I don't know what you do).

    ---------------------
    Edit:
    >Technically if you have a 9-5 you work with your boss too.
    >You do whatever you want in business you won't be in business for long so that's a bunch of bs.
    >My comment was stating a fact which depending on circumstances isn't always clear cut, it wasn't even advice. I did phrase it wrong though.
    >I'm only confident because I know my advice has value or I wouldn't say anything.
    >Freelancers can be entrepreneurs but freelancing is not entrepreneurship, just like working a regular 9-5 job isn't entrepreneurship.
    >I don't recall ever discouraging anyone, not even passively. You know who's a kid? The one who call others names for not having the same opinion.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2017
  19. Ika
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    Ika Busy Idiot Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Thank you all for taking the time and helping me!


    I agree.
    Atleast as the kind of freelancer I am today, I don't really have a business - I have a job.
    There are a lot of ways to be a freelancer and have a business, I don't take advantage of them though.

    Not so long ago I realised I'm building myself a job, I'm on my way taking action to transform it into a business:
    [Progress] From Freelance Job to Freedom



    By task. But I did a poor job on setting this task's boundaries.
    They were too dynamic to meet the client's needs, too weak.
    I've changed this and started communicating clearer boundaries for the project.
    Having confidence is easier said than done. I analysed my proposal and work so far and already found a lot to improve.

    Thank you for answering!



    Thanks for the link!
    I've read it before, just as I was starting out my freelancing journey.
    Looks like I have to re-read it as my client's high offer made me blind to the ideas and principles.


    This is exactly the reason why I don't want to outsource every task from the start!
    Would love to hear your progress on building the processes and systems.
    Thanks for writing it up!


    These ideas sound so 'basic', yet I've never thought about them.
    My clients don't hire freelancers because they want to have another employee - else they would hire another employee. They want to work with a pro.
    Thank you for the answer, I will try to implement the points from now on!



    Good points!
    I will have to examine the current situations before getting the right grip on "firing clients".
    At the moment, it is this vague gray area. I hope this changes as I implement real boundaries I don't want my clients to cross.

    Thanks!
     
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  20. Ika
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    Ika Busy Idiot Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Bookmarked.
    This post should be a required read for all freelancers transforming into a service businesses!

    Basically I've been doing the opposite of this list.
    From hiding behind chats to not having clear project boundaries.
    I hate to use this phrase, but this post opened my eyes to some big shortcomes.

    Thank you very much for sharing this real life experience!
     
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