One aspect I’ve come to learn with freelancing is to take time to understand what you value.
Whether it’s your own values as a freelancer, or company values for an entrepreneur, knowing this is crucial for various reasons.
The reason I bring this up today is that I was approached with two opportunities this morning:
One I accepted, and one I rejected.
The one I rejected is consistent writing work for the foreseeable future. It’s on a topic I’m familiar with and don’t mind writing about. The pay is within my own pay range that I’ve set for myself as a freelancer.
The reason I turned it down is that I feel the potential client only cares about getting the work done quickly and with quality. There’s nothing wrong with doing work fast and to the best of my ability, but it’s rather strange that the client in question isn’t a person of quality or someone I’d want to produce content quickly for.
Because I don’t even know their name nor their business. It’s from a group that I used to work with where my entrepreneur friend would send me clients from this group.
They refused to sit down and talk to me about their business. Also, I don’t know their names. Even my friend is kind of in the dark about their business and what they do. Let alone what the content is even for.
On the other hand…
The client I did accept is someone outside of my area of familiarity. They’re willing to pay me more for the work while the overall word-count demand is roughly the same. That’s nice, but the money is secondary.
The company is looking for someone to write for them for four months so the money isn’t as guaranteed like the other client. That being said, the company provided me with their website.
This allowed me to get a better understanding of who they are, what their business model is like, and their values.
From the scenario, I’m sure you can piece together what I value the most in terms of an ideal client. However, it’s important to have that image for a wide variety of reasons.
It Develops Grit
Knowing your values and valuing them is the difference between doing work you don’t agree with or working for someone you dislike versus developing a mindset to keep pushing and finding a truly amazing client to bring you out of a tough patch.
While at times it may be tempting to take the easy route out of something, you often lose more than you gain. As I’ll be bringing up in the later points, going against your values is basically betraying yourself. There’s a lot of emotional repercussions to that.
And it’s something that we often forget and need reminding of every now and then.
By sticking to your values, it shows you value yourself more than doing work that could ruin you for years to come. Think of it like branding and building it or reputation. It takes years to build and moments to destroy it.
That’s not to say we shouldn’t stretch our brand and try new things. But at the very least do things that we do value and that we want to include in our brand.
You Keep Your Integrity
Becoming someone you’re not has a lot of built-up shame in it. From people around you judging you to a sense of betrayal from yourself as well.
As I said, there is an emotional impact to that. After all, you’re essentially giving up on your own individuality.
And it’s so important to maintain that.
Even if your face is behind a company brand. Your business is always an extension of you. Once you start a business, it’s part of you.
By sticking to your values and recognizing them, you’re creating a space where you can thrive along with other people. Absolutely it is difficult to turn down offers that would help you out of a situation. However, it says something about you and your intentions if you don’t mind settling for work you don’t believe in versus work that you do value and find meaning for.
To me, it’s a look at your self worth and the higher it is, the more you’ll respect yourself. Even if it means turning down people who’ll think less of you.
You Gain More Skills And Growth
A good example of this is through my own business. It’s obvious that I work with businesses and people who care about their clients. But one thing that I don’t often mention is that I grow a tremendous amount from these particular clients.
Not just in writing and dealing with clients, but in other areas as well.
Part of the reason is when you care for someone’s business, you will do what you can to stay there. I’m not saying you’d act out of desperation to find work. But you’d go out of your way to provide a lot of value.
I know this because the clients I work with make me feel invested in their growth. I don’t want to be the sole reason for that growth. However, if I can find fulfilment in playing a part that’s more than enough.
What this means is that I’ll accept additional tasks and work above and beyond what is required of me. Instead of writing an article and sending it off, I ask myself whether I can backlink the post to other content the company published. I’ll ask them about their email marketing or general SEO strategy. I’ll look for other ways that I can contribute to the growth of the company that plays to my skills.
Yes, it’s more work, but when you position yourself as someone who is invaluable to a business, not only do you grow your skills, but you have a valuable client that you can keep for several months or years. Longer than what was originally intended.
Not to mention, those skills you can pass over to other areas.
For example, one of my clients got me into writing on Wikipedia. I’m not an expert, but I generally know the language on Wikipedia and can write a decent page. I can now offer that as a service.
You Get To Turn Clients Down
Being picky pays off because you get to fire clients or refuse work from certain clients. While we are already overwhelmed about the choices in our lives, these particular choices bring a certain level of satisfaction.
I’m slowly moving into a position where I have enough clients that I don’t really need more work. On top of that, I have clients that I do want to be working with. This means that any clients that I bring in have to be exceptional. The value I bring must be worth the time it takes to deliver it.
And again this emotional aspect is something we often overlook. The reason for that is we always focus on the financial benefits or the work itself. We never fully think about how we feel about the work we do. Nor whether we can tolerate the work for several months or even weeks.
It why some people eventually feel disconnected from their workplace. It’s why we have people experience burnout or receive unnecessary stress.
The emotional aspect is most important. It’s gotten to the point where people are talking about this more and more. I’ve heard some stories about businesses dealing with tough clients.
So why should freelancers be the only one to accept bad clients?
It doesn’t make sense. After all, freelancers aren’t that different from entrepreneurs. So with that said I’ll say this:
I’d rather work with an excellent client who’ll work with me rather than someone who isn’t.
Do What You Value Most
Freelancers and entrepreneurs need to understand where they are in terms of values and virtues. When you decide what those are to you, you improve the overall quality of your clients.
You’ll start to push away the people that don’t fit your image and begin to attract those that do.
To do this, ask yourself:
Who do you want to be working with?
Paint an ideal picture and define some core qualities of that person. At least three or four.
When you have a grasp of who you want to work with, you can use it as a sort of checklist. You’d be surprised how many people fit that bill, but it’s also a great tool for your own development. Professionally and personally.