In the process of ghostwriting this week’s blog article for a client on the topic of how to discourage and alienate potential hires, it came to me that a lot of buyers do that when soliciting freelancers. I’ve ranted ad nauseum about the ridiculously low compensation many buyers think is adequate for the work they want done, so I won’t go on another tirade this time. But when you’re seeking to hire a freelancer, it makes sense to present your project as something that a contractor would want to accept into his or her workload.
A request for proposals (RFP) is basically a job description. I can understand if someone who’s hiring a writer or editor has a few typos or an occasional grammatical error, but a solicitation so littered with errors as to be practically illegible discourages all but the hungriest and most desperate contractors from responding.
The RFP should specifically describe the expectations for both the client and the contractor. For instance, if you’re hiring multiple writers to produce installments in a serial, then the project budget the concerns the writers isn’t the total amount you intend to spend on the entire project, but what you intend to pay the writer upon delivery of that installment. In other words, don’t mislead the contractor: it’s dishonest and just plain rude.
Make sure your expectations are in line with the level of effort you demand, the deadline you want, and the fee you’re willing to pay. Before offering a nominal fee for work that’s “easy,” think about why you’re hiring someone else to do it. Is it because you haven’t the time? If so, then what’s your time worth? Is it because you lack the skills to produce a professional result? If so, then the project isn’t “easy.” What would you charge if you were a professional bidding on that project? In other words, don’t insult the contractor at the outset by devaluing his or her skills and competence.
If you truly don’t know what a job entails, as demonstrated within many buyer RFPs, then let the bidders be your guide. State honestly that the posted budget, if one is necessary to be posted on the platform you’re using, is a placeholder only. We freelance contractors know we’re competing with a vast crowd and most will propose what they feel the project is worth to them. Bids in the middle will probably be your most accurate price guide. Before hiring a contractor, be sure you understand the service(s) you’re buying. If a writer or editor cannot specify what he or she will do for you, then seek another contractor.
If you like to haggle, feel free to attempt to do so. Some vendors will bargain with you, some won’t. If you’ve found the practically perfect contractor who refuses to haggle, then you risk losing that contractor if you insist on haggling down the price. It’s been my experience that most contractors will bid their best rate for your project in the first go-around, leaving themselves without room to bargain. Really, it’s not fair to ask them to take a loss.
Pay attention to those bids that don’t fall within your parameters for budget, delivery, and service. You requirements may be completely unrealistic. If what you’re demanding will take eight hours of work every day for a month, then expect to pay accordingly for monopolizing the contractor’s professional availability during that month. Or a contractor may bid on your project, but state that delivery will take longer than you anticipated. Appreciate his or her honesty. It’s better to know up front that the work will take longer than you thought than to stress out over late delivery.
By starting off with an attitude of respect and courtesy, contractors will fall over themselves bidding for your business. They’ll exert themselves to satisfy the project requirements and then some in order to keep a gracious and appreciative client.