The Inside Scoop from a Business Owner
I opened my email to find yet another message from a freelancer I was hoping to hire. Annoyed and crunched for time on a busy Wednesday morning, I made up my mind in that instant. I would not be hiring this recipe developer and food photographer.
I had already replied to previous messages with more information about my specific needs. I had carefully crafted my messages to include the specifics of my business and the jobs I was seeking to outsource. Our exchanges should have been straight forward, but this person was wasting my time. Don’t be that person.
With that in mind, I have compiled a short list of things that turn me off, reasons I opted not to hire a company or individual. My reasons may differ from those of other business owners, but I believe these are fairly common sticking points.
Three Reasons I didn’t Hire that Freelance Worker
1. You ask too many questions before giving your rates.
Business owners are busy people. As the creator, editor in chief, creative director, graphic designer, digital producer, and all-around hat wearer for my magazine, my time is very limited. My inbox currently has over 400 emails. My phone is constantly dinging, swooshing, and bing-bonging. When I’m not responding to emails, I’m reaching out to writers and photographers, writing articles like this one, posting blogs, creating email campaigns, communicating with my editor, and working with other design clients.
If I’m reaching out to you for rates, it’s for two reasons: I liked your work and your website lists the services I want to hire you for. In the case above, I understand that gathering information can help determine the best quote, but then you better have specific questions you need answered to make that determination. Asking me generic questions that can only really be answered after receiving the rates, and then requesting that I provide as much information as possible is frustrating, to say the least.
If other factors play into the rates, have a way of quoting average prices and then letting the potential client know the possible variances. For example, let’s say I want to hire you for recipe development in conjunction with food photography. You should state that your average cost for the recipe with X number of photos is X amount. Then make a note that rates may increase depending on the size of the project and ingredients. Likewise, clients may receive a discount for multiple projects booked.
Simple. No frills. No fuss. I understand that you are quoting me an average price and that there will be some variation depending on the project and frequency of using your services. Now I have the information and can make my decisions accordingly, and more importantly, I can return to those other 400 emails in my inbox.
2. You don’t know your own rates.
Nothing stops me in my tracks faster than a freelancer asking me to quote what I’m willing to pay. There are a few reasons why this turns me off, but here are my top two:
As a business owner, I will low-ball you on price because I want to save money when and where I can, but as a creative and a business owner who understands the struggle of self-worth, I want to offer you more than I should. Now my brain is in total meltdown and I’m having this internal struggle that it’s not my responsibility to have.
Second, I’ll reiterate my last point, it is not my responsibility. Period. This is your business. Know your rates before you advertise your services.
The first recipe developer I hired for The Chews Letter was perfect. I found her work, I saw she offered the services I was looking for, I asked her about her fees, she told me what it would cost, and I assigned her the first project. She met the deadline and submitted exactly what she agreed on. So, I assigned her three more projects, and because she executed those with the same professionalism, she landed her first magazine cover.
3. You offered more than is needed or asked for.
This is also a big turn off for me because it tells me that you haven’t worked in the industry very long. I’m big on new beginnings and branching out, but you need to do your research.
Photographers are usually guilty of this. A lot of photographers begin learning and building their careers by photographing friends and family, and then delivering hundreds of photos to them. After a while, they learn to pare this down, but they often forget to think about doing it again when they step-a-way from the family portraits or wedding circuits.
I don’t know about all creative directors, but if I hire a photographer it’s because I liked their work and I know they’ll consistently deliver the same results. This means I need fewer photos. A lot of photographers lose my business because they’ll send me a quote for 50–100 photos, and when I ask for a smaller quantity and new quote they don’t know how to respond.
Here’s an example of a company that knows what it is doing. I asked for their rates to lease photos (pulling from photos they already have in their portfolio) and the cost to hire them for projects. The reply came swiftly and succinctly — X amount per photo to lease and X amount per hour for new projects.
The Bottom Line
I don’t want to have to work hard or chase you down to give you money. I just want you to know your rates, your business, your worth, and execute business in a professional and timely manner.
If you didn’t get hired by the last person to contact you for rates, it might not be your prices or your work. It may very well have been that you made them work too hard to hire you.