Thursday, September 5, 2013
It's not personal, it's business
I know from my many years working at ad agencies that nothing is given away for free.
If a project runs longer than projected or a client requests services that were not discussed in the original agreement, you can be sure the groundhogs in the Finance Department are going to pop up out of their cubicles and yell something about "SCOPE."
I have no problem with that.
After all, as agencies are fond of telling clients:
"It's only fair that we get paid for the services we provide."
"The less we're concerned about clock management the more we can focus on delivering creative solutions."
"If we're doing more than what we're being paid for, we wouldn't be smart business people. You wouldn't want to be in a partnership with bad business people."
These are all valid statements. But they are also why I am given to fits of fury (internalized of course) when it comes to negotiating my pay.
After all, if agencies aren't giving it away for free, why should freelancers?
For starters, I won't do a Project Fee. This is Fool's Gold. And is all predicated upon some fictional time line and assumed client approvals that never come to fruition.
Revisions become more revisions. More revisions become "Maybe we should rethink the brief?" But "let's rethink the brief" rarely turns into "Let's renegotiate the fee."
I'm also leery of the weekly rate. Because somehow agencies have it in their head that the week starts on Monday and ends on Monday. I've been burned on several occasions by this kind of agreement. But it won't happen again.
Even the day rate is losing its appeal.
Last week a friend of mine told me he showed up at the office at 8 AM and didn't go home that night until 1 AM. That's not one day. That's not even two days. That's 2 &1/2 days in the Siegel Book of Fair Labor Practices and Missed Episodes of the Daily Show. And if he doesn't bill them as such, he's doing us all a disfavor.
The best way to pay me is also the best way to pay a lawyer. On an hourly basis.
Some agencies, I call them the Good Ones, do pay on an hourly basis. Some agencies even pay overtime. I call them the Better Ones.
The hourly rate makes the most sense. Because then, if you want me to stay late or work on weekends, you'll pay me to stay late and work on weekends.
In essence, this forces agencies to plan better and manage more efficiently. It's almost like I'm doing them a favor.