Fast freelance

It’s already been a busy year already for me. To make a point about where freelance people like me spend their energy, here’s a look at my current project list, sorted by status of work:

I’ve never had this many projects in process at the same time. I’m just one guy, so it makes me a little nervous. The value of these projects varies from $3,000 to over $50,000, and they’ll get delivered over the rest of 2021. But as I’ve analyzed my work on them, I’ve realize that what sucks up my energy and enthusiasm is not the large projects — it’s the fast ones.

The first project is a political book that needs to get out quickly. I’ve worked with the author on small projects for four years, but this one is much larger. There’s a bunch of stuff to do that wasn’t in the original statement of work — such as helping the client to pick a publishing partner and decide on covers and marketing strategies. But I’m thrilled to work on it because the author and the material are moving to completion at breakneck speed. This is my idea of fun.

The two workshops are coming together quickly. One went from lead to delivery in two weeks — the fastest I’ve ever gone. I couldn’t let up on that for a moment.

Then we get to the “waiting” projects.

Two of the proposals are continuing to move forward, I just need the authors to create or review material. Those authors have been fast and responsive in the past, so I’m ready to jump on them as soon as the new stuff shows up.

The academic, on the other hand, is within shouting distance of completion of his book proposal, but I haven’t heard from him in more than a month regarding the material I wrote that he needs to review. This length of delay is typical for him. I don’t think about him until he pops his head up, and even then it takes me a while to remember where we were on the project.

The editing projects will go nowhere until they get me a manuscript. So I don’t think about them much.

The idea development projects owe me reviews on the one-page treatments we developed together. One of them is an extremely influential guy whose book has huge potential. But I’ve been waiting weeks for these reviews. I won’t abandon you if you take this long to get back to me, but I’m certainly not deep into thinking about your issues.

As for the ones marked “closing” — nothing will happen on those until they’ve set up meetings so we can vet each other. Given the rest of my workload, I don’t put any effort into those until they get closer to reality, even though some of them are huge contracts. And the same applies to the ones marked “open.”

Fast always wins

When you are attempting to get attention from a resource — a freelancer or anyone else — urgency beats almost anything else.

If you get back to me quickly, I will spend my time on you. If there’s an open client request on my to-do list, I want to deliver on it as soon as possible. I’m happiest when I’m making rapid progress on these items and impressing the client with the results.

On fast projects, I’m far more willing to do extra work, or work overtime to meet deadlines. And I don’t charge more for fast — in the end, I charge less. (Call it the rush discount.)

I recognize that the world does not revolve around me and you have other things to do. But if you can work fast, you’ll get more of my energy and attention. And that’s probably true of the other people you need stuff from as well.

I’m impatient. I like impatient people. Let’s go. Now, preferably.

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    1. Those numbers just make sorting easier. A zero is for leads that don’t pan out, I just delete them. And a 5, I guess, would be “urgent,” but rather than update the chart I just get right to work.

  1. Josh, Thanks for squeezing in that small agency workshop so quickly. Sorry for sucking up your energy and enthusiasm! 😉