Notes on Freelance Camp 2011 – What Clients and Consultants Really Think? (Session#2)

This is a continuation from my previous post Contracts for People Who Hate Contracts (Session#1). The second session that I attended is about Clients/Consultants and what they really think.

/What Do Client and Consultants Really Think? by Corwin Hiebert and Mark Shiah
In the presentation, Mark was the client and Corwin was the consultant. They re-enacted many things that we all go through when in a client-consultant relationship from introduction to project finish.

Some of the things I learned from the consultant side of things:

– Help client make better decision.
– Be the expert by diagnosing and analyzing the problem.
– Know your role.
– Caring for the client or the project.
– Don’t let clients chase you down.
– If you have multiple clients, make sure you manage and prioritize your time.
– Use online collaborative tools like “Smartsheet”.
– Make client feel that they are the priority. I got burned by this previously and I have more details if interested.
– Give your honest advice to the client, and fully believe the project will work.
– When it comes to money, nickel-and-diming is awkward for the next engagement. It’s better to send all your invoices ahead of time to the stakeholder.
– And finally, provide value-base project work instead of billing hourly. Corwin recommended this book “Value-based Consulting”, I believe the one written by Fiona Czerniawska.

From the client side of things, the only thing that we as the consultants ask for, is that you do not carboncopy (CC) everyone in emails. Deal directly with the project manager who will distribute all correspondence to the project group.

For question-and-answers period, a question asked was: What is the difference between Contractors vs Consultants?
– Contractors are “yes” people. They will do what you tell them to do.
– Consultants will bring expert advice and give you options. They will talk themselves out of a job at times if they don’t believe a project will work.

This all I have for this session. The third session I went to is titled “How to Write a Book” by Katrin Lake. Stay tuned for the exciting details.

Short-lived Canpages Writing Gig

I provide writing/blogging services for Helium Content Source (http://www.heliumcontentsource.com) and the latest assignment was to write short 300-500 word articles for Canpages, advertised as Canada’s fastest growing local search company.

Helium uses a great dashboard for article submissions, edits, and approvals. Canpages uses WordPress for the blogging platform and when articles are approved at Helium, a second set of edits and approvals happen at Canpages. I was able to get 4 articles published at Canpages before the assignment came to an end for me.

Here are the published articles, and they are tailored to Vancouver -centric stories in lifestyle, entertainment, and restaurants linked below.

http://blog.canpages.ca/blog/?author=72

If the link becomes stale, here is a graphic

I am always looking for more writing/blogging opportunities so if my writing style appeals to your needs, please contact me at info at aminsolutions dot com.

Notes on Freelance Camp 2011- Contracts For People Who Hate Contracts (Session#1)

Notes on Freelance Camp 2011

This past weekend I was at the Freelance Camp held by TheNetworkHub at New Westminster http://thenetworkhub.ca/freelancecamp. There was a lot of energy at that “unconference” and I left feeling very motivated. I didn’t know that “unconference” meant no set agenda for the day until one was created by participants themselves. Speakers would line up and have a maximum of 30 seconds to pitch their session. If the session gets voted on, it will become one of the sessions offered that day.

Some of the sessions I attended include:

(Session#1) Contracts;
(Session#2) What Clients/Consultants Really Think?;
(Session#3) How to Write a Book;
(Session#4) Rules of Engagement; and
(Session#5) 6 Time Management Tips.

I will have separate posts for each of these to ensure it is legible and easier to digest.

/Contracts – by Danielle Lemon and Martin Ertl
This one was popular and one I immediately signed up for. Danielle and Martin talked about many reasons for having contracts.

-Contracts are great planning tools.
-It shows professionalism.
-It provides a statement of work listing what is in-scope and out-of-scope, deliverables, backout clause.
-Clearly shows milestones for payment, and terms of those payments.
-It shows the approach you will take for the project.
-Clearly specify which law applies when conflicts arise, e.g. write that the law of British Columbia applies.

They also covered most of the questions I had including:

Is an email contract acceptable? Yes. It’s better than a verbal contract. You should start the work initially with the expectation that a full contract is on its way. Also, make sure they reply to the email confirming receipt or agreeing to the content.

As the Consultant, what do I do with subcontractor contracts? Who wins?
They complement each other. The contracts will tend to be one-sided so make sure you read through the other contract and make changes as you see fit.

What do I do with clients that aren’t on retainer and have no written contracts signed?
If there was no provision to make amendments to terms and agreements, you will have to renegotiate the contract. It means you will have to treat existing clients as though they were new.

How much do I charge web clients?
A third of the total as a downpayment. You want to make sure you get paid in case the relationship deteriorates.

How should one make changes to existing contracts?
If you made provisions for regular reviews, update your Terms and Conditions on paper or on your website and direct your client to those changes. However, you need to have a clause that allows you to make changes to the contract.

How do I deal with verbal agreements, over the phone or in person, regarding a new project?
Followup immediately with an email detailing the meeting minutes and ask for confirmation emails to ensure all parties are on the same page.

This is all I have for the first session. Stay tuned for the second session that I attended, i.e. What Do Client and Consultants Really Think?