Friday, November 19, 2010

How to freelance. Lesson 1, extorting money.

As I’ve been freelancing for a couple of weeks now I’m something of an expert on the subject.

So I thought I’d begin spouting out my vast knowledge, in a new series cunningly titled How to freelance.

Let’s begin with the first task for any freelancer, the distasteful business of negotiating a fee.

As we all know, more important than the actual work is how much you can get away with charging for it.

Now if you’re anything like me (an incompetent coward) then you’re not really cut out for negotiating. So the moment that haggling begins, you’ll want to fold like a cheap suitcase.

However you must resist that urge. This is the time to play hardball.

Whatever they say, double it and add a nought or two. Make sure you maintain eye contact and try to add some menace to your voice. If they dare to hold your gaze, don’t be afraid to bare your teeth.

(If you’re not actually negotiating in person, no problem. You can achieve the same effect over the phone by shouting. Or, if you’re communicating by email, simply write in all caps.)

At this point they may ask you to justify your fee.

This is nothing to be fazed by. If you think about it, there are all kinds of reasons why they should pay what you're asking. You might make excellent tea, for example. Or, like me, have a cute ass.

The only rule when it comes to justifying fees is that UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD YOU MAKE PROMISES ABOUT THE QUALITY OF THE WORK YOU'LL PRODUCE. Trust me on this one. It will lead to all kinds of difficulties down the line.

Once you’ve agreed a fee, you might think that's the end of it. But there are still a few cunning tricks you can pull.

A favourite of mine is to add an extra hundred or two when you invoice. Agencies LOVE this, as it shows initiative and tenacity. And if there’s one thing creative directors are looking for, other than a cute ass, it’s initiative and tenacity.

Hopefully that’s enough advice for you to be going on with. I’ll be spewing out more wisdom on the actual work of a freelancer just as soon as I successfully negotiate my first job.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

This one goes out to the Paveys

This blog is many things to many people.

To some, it's a way to pass those annoying last minutes before 5:30. To others, a mine of information on how to undermine and belittle your colleagues.

But what it has never attempted to be, nor indeed succeeded at being, is a source of humour.

Or so I thought.

Upon visiting my sister-in-law at the weekend, she informed me that she had found it humorous.

[Only my own literary snobbishness prevents me from inserting a massive smiley face here.]

Rach's compliment was especially gratifying as she is currently undergoing chemotherapy, which apparently isn’t as much fun as it sounds.

She told me she’s spent many of her feeling-ill-est hours reading from these turgid cyber-pages.

Although she didn’t actually say so, I think it’s fair to say that this blog is a single shining beacon of hope and joy in her life.

It would also be COMPLETELY accurate to say I inspired Rach to write her own blog, Rage against the lymphoma, chronicling the non-stop-fun of fighting Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

However, I must warn you: DO NOT READ IT.

I don’t say this because I’m intimidated by someone daring to take on a challenging and weighty subject and carrying it off with genuine wit and warmth. That’s not it at all.

I forbid you from reading it because she has TEN TIMES more readers than me.

Ten. Ruddy. Times.

Things like this make me wonder what’s the point of it all.

If people are more interested in reading an honest account of someone’s hopes and fears rather than banal observations on the shallow world of agency life, then I for one feel like giving up.

On the other hand, let’s not forget it’s ME that inspired her.

Which means they’re really my readers anyway.
P.S. I heart you Paveys XXX