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Reputation Is Critical: The Importance Of Keeping Your
Word
Your character and perceived reputation is critical with all freelance work. The truth is that
even in the best situations a formal contract or purchase order is often not initiated. Emails
are often utilized to follow-up or discuss the work and the subsequent agreed upon rates.
The magic formula for any freelancer is remaining true to the articulated parameters of the
project. As Steven Tatar mentioned earlier, if there are changes in the scope of any
agreement they need to be conveyed to the client along the way.
Sheryl White, a copywriter for major national clients, discusses the importance of “keeping
your word” as intrinsic to maintaining the client’s loyalty and trust in you to deliver what was
promised. The freelancers’ ability to keep their word is almost a throwback to a time when
verbal contracts were acknowledged with a handshake. Sheryl, when asked if she still had
trust of people in the advertising business notes, “Only a few, everybody’s only looking out
for themselves. Except us freelancers we’re always looking out for each other. At least in
my group of people. We really look out for each other.” This is a business where you know
who your friends are and they help to promote your work because they have confidence in
not only your competence but in your ability to keep your word.
Talent is only a small part of the success quotient for any freelancer. There must be equal
values of loyalty, trust, and respect to not only make sure they are capable of completing
the task but also relating to the client’s needs. Therapist, coach and consultant Harlene
Anderson suggests that we engage in a respectful relational partnership by “entering the
relationship as a learner who listens and responds by trying to understand the client from
their perspective and in their language” (Anderson & Gehart, p. 45).
Carol Beck, a videographer, reminds freelancers to respect the fact that it is work for hire
and not to confuse with art:
Your clients are not going to tell you how great you are (LAUGHS). If I get a thank
you at the end of a project, it’s a big day. You can’t confuse work for hire with art.
If I want to make art, it’s on my own time. This is work for hire. They get to make
decisions. You can make recommendations, guide them, educate them but
ultimately their video, their money, and their consequences. If it’s a bad video, it’s
their decision even if they decide to throw you under the bus it’s their video.
If there is a problem with a timeline or if unforeseen circumstances arise, it is important for
the freelancer to immediately discuss this with the client so they can propose solutions
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