Effective August 1, 2011: I will be requiring a signed client contract before I begin to work on any project. Having done a considerable amount of work for friends and clients with what might loosely considered a ‘verbal agreement’ I’ve run in to a few complications with regard to payments.

“A contract? But, you know me…”

Yes, which is exactly why I need you to read and understand the agreement. I can’t pay my mortgage with the favors that you think you might return someday. And yes, I do take pleasure in the work that I do, and most of the time I enjoy it. But, the only work I do for free is the work I do for me. If your project takes time away from myself, my family or my other clients – you’re going to pay for it.

“What about the homeboy discount?”

Ah, the dreaded discount… I’m not sure how to address this one. I have been known to offer considerable markdowns on things I’ve done for friends and acquaintances. However, there’s a difference between showing you how to optimize your vacation photos, and setting up a custom e-commerce web solution for you to peddle your wares. If I charged my mother each time I showed her how to get photos from her camera to her laptop, I wouldn’t need to freelance. Of course, she pays with home cooked meals, babysitting, and other mom stuff.

“What’s the Friend Rate”?

There is no “friend rate”.

Because I prefer to treat each of my clients as individual entities, I allow myself the right to determine my rates based on the needs of each. Basically, once I’ve heard your request, I take some time to research the project, make a simple plan of action, set a timeline, check my schedule, and decide what it’s worth for me to take on the work.

Of course, there are a few things you should consider before you think about hiring a freelancer. One of those things is your relationship with the developer you’re thinking of hiring. Are you friends, acquaintances, or do you just know them through another friend? How would you describe your relationship? Good, not so good, meh?

Now, think about how your relationship with this person might change were you to hire them. I’ve had clients become good friends and I’ve had friends become bad clients. The dynamic can be a double-edged sword.

Consider the consequences, or pay more in the end.

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