Freelancing and work ethics

I must start this post by admitting that I haven’t done that much freelance work in my life as developer, so my experience in that area is somewhat limited when compared to others. What you’re about to read is something that happened to me recently.

A close friend of mine got in touch with me regarding a potential WordPress theme integration work. Her regular developer was out of town at the time, they were already behind the schedule and she needed to show something to the client three days later. You know, the usual stuff.

Generally speaking, I don’t jump into projects without reviewing deliverables first. Experience dictates that you should never start a project unless you have everything you need beforehand. This time around though I did otherwise.

“They have no real commitment since there’s no contract involved. They even dissapear on me at times …”

My friend

The next day I got an e-mail from her containing the PSD file with the templates, and a note saying “here’s also a link to the site we told the designer to use as reference“. The said site was actually quite nice. It had a very clean user interface and minimalistic design. I really liked it and understood why they chose it.

The PSD mockup -on the other hand- was a nightmare. The designer sent a bad copy of the referenced web site just for the sake of submitting something. Even a few of the elements were shameless screenshots.

When I told my friend about the poor work by the designer, she replied back “What are you saying? That’s normal. Every freelancer I’ve worked with has been like that.

I was shocked.

She continued: “They have no real commitment since there’s no contract involved. They even disappear on me at times, leaving me hanging. You really can’t expect much from them.

While I understand that because she may not have that much experience (she’s been on the business for the last 2-2 1/2 years) she’s been led to believe that this is “normal”. I was quite upset about it.

“I’m sorry, I’m too busy right now to fix that.”

The designer

She also told me that when she pointed out a few design details she noticed after receiving the PSD file the guy replied with an “I’m sorry, I’m too busy right now to fix that.” I had a long talk with her afterwards.

It took God and a lot of patience to convince her -and I’m not too sure that I succeeded- that freelancer or not you are obliged to do the job to the best of your abilities and according to the directions given to you. Work ethics still matter and not just when sitting behind of a desk but everywhere.

Since I couldn’t back out and hate to leave a damsel in distress, I ended up wearing both the developer hat and a borrowed designer hat. Fortunately, I wasn’t half bad at it and the client was happy about the outcome. Years of seeing designers work had finally paid off.

Of course, I got her in touch with a couple of good designers I have worked with in the past and recommended to never ever hire that fella again.

I’m no saint and honestly can’t say that I have never let someone down before (and I’m not proud of that either), but after many years in the business I know that being sloppy just won’t do. It’ll come back and bite you in the ass. You must do your best every time at every thing. There are simply no second chances.

Am I the only one who still thinks that way?

One response on “Freelancing and work ethics”

Ok, this is a great post. Inspiring. I am a Blind woodworker with some residual sight yet no central vision at all. In other words, I can’t see what the heck I am looking at. I taught many Blind students woodw working and one of my talents that I never new was having the ability to listen to a thought bubble and bring it into a working plan that would result in the realization of their thought/idea.
As for other weekend warrior wood workers or fly by night contractors, some of them give all of the rest doubt.
Anyways, great post.

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