Moses had commandments...
Biggie Smalls had commandments...
And by some miracle, I've been granted The 5 Commandments of Premium Freelancing etched into my toast this morning.
I ate the toast so I can't show them to you. (I mean, there was already butter on it so how could I not?) But this I'm pretty sure I remember the gist of it. So here we go:
1. Thou Shalt Never Rest Thy Livelihood on a Single Client
Look, that one killer client you're looking to land can actually kill your business. How? They take up all your time, get you living off the fat of the land, and make you lazy. Then later, when they move on, you have no way to pay your bills and no system for getting new clients. Oh yee of too much faith, don't get hosed!
2. Thou Shalt Not Compete on Price
Most people compete on price. So it immediately brings you down to the herd level when you do this. But there is a higher flock for you to join... Those who compete on the service and the value they provide to their clients. I know this can be hard to wrap your head around, but basically it means you understand the improvements your work makes to your clients, and you offer those outcomes and benefits at a premium.
3. Thou Shalt Truly Serve Your Clients
How many freelancers just want a way to use their skills to make a living without a boss? That's all fine and good, but as Saint Paul McCarthy said "In the end the money you take is equal to the service you make." We are in the service industry, and if you want to be premium, that comes from finding people who you can help and focusing on what they genuinely need. As Saint Dylan said "You gotta serve somebody." And if you're caught up worrying about what is truly right "for you" get out of that endless loop of mind-noise and ask yourself a different question, "who and how can I serve at the highest level?"
4. Thou Shalt Not Reduce Your Price for a Specific Client Without Also Reducing Your Delivery
Ok, this one is a mouthful, but I wanted to be precise. Go ahead and discount if you want, that's called a promotion and is totally cool. Go ahead and negotiate if you want, but make sure you're having a true negotiation, which means if they pay less they get less, somehow some way. Otherwise you're not negotiating, you're HAGGLING and that's never a premium move.
5. Thou Shalt Have Client Standards
You must develop some kind of standards of who is acceptable to you as a client. It's counter-intuitive, but this helps put some power back in your hands. Imagine someone who will kiss anyone on the street. Do you want to kiss them? Probably not. Having some standards does a couple key things. First, it helps you screen out PITA clients before you sign with them, and second it helps attract quality clients because they see you have some standards. It doesn't have to be anything crazy, but you shouldn't be willing to work with absolutely anybody. Got it?
Ok, that's all for now. I'll keep toasting my bread, because I think I could probably do dozens more of these...