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Remind me again how resilient you need to be self employed?(13 Posts)
Lets pretend I am an artist who is commissioned by clients. They order their products (possibly a portrait painting) after seeing my other work therefore knowing my style.
I complete their order and they say 'it's nice' or 'some parts of it are nice' - in theory this could be seen as positive feedback but to me it is a failing. They didn't fall in love with the piece, they didn't get excited about it. Some parts of it are not up to their standard or not what they expected. Knowing this I cringe and think that I am not up to the job. I want to clients to "love" their finished piece. Is this is too much to expect? Should I go easier on myself as a new businesswoman/artist and expect not to be able to please everyone or should I indeed be disappointed that I didn't live up to their expectation.
Also, when it comes to paying for said artwork, a lot of clients haggle to get the price down. Said clients are fairly affluent and they are aware of my prices before hiring me. Yet they feel the need to ask for money off. Do you think this is because they think the final product is not worth what I am asking for it?
I find that some other people in the same business (who are probably providing the same or even lesser standard to me) don't get the same amount of hassle from their clients... Or do they just have a thicker skin and are not worried by a few 'not entirely overjoyed' customers?
I think your thread title says it all - you need to be resilient to be self-employed. I am not in the same industry as you, but do feel that positive feedback is something you very rarely get as a freelancer. You have to take the positives from someone not providing feedback, if that makes sense. As for negative feedback, I can see how that would be very common in your line of work, but try to correct it for the client if you can, remember that they were pleased with the rest, take the money and move on!
Money is a tricky one. I think that everyone is looking for more for less these days, so have the confidence to try and negotiate a discount. You either need to go in at a higher price than you really want (risky, because you may price yourself out of the market) or have a lower price you are prepared to go to and politely refuse to go under it.
Back to feedback - remember to take good things from more work from a client or them recommending you to someone else. Let the cash flow do the positive reinforcement
Science, thank you for the quick reply! I always try to make them happy if I get even a hint that they are not absolutely completely happy with what I gave them. I think you are right though, turning no feedback into positive feedback seems the way to go!
I just wish I could please everyone 100% of the time, I find it so difficult to think that someone might not be happy with what I have given them.
I used to feel like that - mithering over whether something was ok, and then checking that it was before invoicing. But I've decided that people are just busy, and simply don't take the time to say "that's great" as they will to say "this isn't quite what I expected". So now I invoice when I submit work (much easier for those who commission me as the work and invoice arrive at the same time - that's what I tell myself anyway ) and take repeated commissions as a sign that my work is good enough for them to want more. Being busy is the best feedback you can get
Blinding light - well, within the last few days I have had to deal with someone saying that my website looks flat and the colour and typeface looked wrong!! That's after having a recent revamp !!! I'm a recent newbie to this self employed lark so I will have to take it on the chin and look at it as constructive criticism but honestly !!!!!!! Good luck with whatever it is that you are doing !!
Clare, good for you taking the plunge into self-employdom. Any criticism is difficult to hear I think, even if it is for greater good. I think if it didn't hurt, even just a little - it would mean we care enough, surely?
I'm a graphic artist and a web designer and criticism is hard to take. But you have to shake it off and learn from it in order to continue to improve.
Stand firm on your fees. They knew what they were when they hired you.
People never like my work as it tends to end up with them paying both me and the tax man, and they rarely give me credit for how much I've saved them.
Skin like a rhino.
At least people do not swear when you walk into the room - common for me as the auditor :-)
OP, I can imagine that if you do something creative that you put passion into, it must be disheartening to receive little/no feedback and customers haggling over price!
I agree with other posters, people are often too busy to feedback. You may already do this, but thinking about your audience, could you start a feedback 'programme'? Get a classy postcard (am thinking matt thick card matching your branding) produced with a couple of questions on it and then a couple of lines for them to write their feedback. The questions don't need to be "rate your purchase" a la amazon, but could be 'where is your portrait hanging?' And/or 'when you see your portrait, how do you feel?'. This could be sent 3 months after. All entrants could be entered into a draw for a free portrait or something else. Include a SAE and add an opt out box, saying you might use their comments unless they let you know. So you could add to your website. Just a thought.
Re the haggling. How do you communciate the price to them? If you don't already email them the price/order details.
I would try to stand strong on the price. They knew the deal . Can you present them with the invoice with the portrait?
As others have said, try to take no/little feedback and payment as good feedback.
MrsMargoLeadbetter's idea about the postcard is a good one. I am also new to freelancing and have had to thicken my skin. I find it particularly tricky when I submit work electronically, because emails (or silence) can be difficult to read for tone. If you handed your work to them face to face or sat next to them in an office it would be so much easier to read whether the silence was an awkward one, an "I'm too busy to talk" one, or a "that is just what I wanted now I can crack on with the rest of the project one."
They need to pay the price you quoted. Quibbling over quality is a well known tactic to try to get the price down. Stick to your guns!
When you employ someone (as in traditional employment) part of that includes giving feedback, both good and bad, taking part in appraisals, talking about development, etc etc. All the good stuff of having a job-job.
When you employ a freelancer, you don't have to do it. In the same way as you don't have to pay them holiday pay, or NI, or invite them to the staff party - as someone who's been on both sides of the fence, it's one of the perks of employing freelancers - 'brilliant, I don't have to make any notes on this to use in their appraisal.'
So no feedback is really, really good - as a freelance you will only every get feedback if it's negative. Instead of measuring myself on feedback, I measure myself on repeat bookings. Am doing fine
Now in your line of business OP, I guess repeat bookings is going to be tough - if you've bought portrait A you probably aren't going to buy portrait B, so you're going to have to find some other way to validate your work. Margo has suggested a way of getting feedback, I wonder if you have some sort of referral scheme in place too? Because if they're telling their friends to use you, you can be sure they're happy with the work.
The price quibbling thing is another thing altogether. I presume you're already agreeing a price up front? I'd get them to agree this in writing too (email is fine). And say no if they quibble. No being complete sentence, etc.
And you can't please everyone all of the time so you need to drop that one right away <tough love emoticon>
You have all made me feel a lot better I have to say. It's sometimes easier to hear it and believe it from other people as opposed to just telling yourself. I will take your wise words with me on the rest of my journey and I know where to come when I fall into doubt again!
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