I liken trialing to boot camp for contractors. It’s like getting a scholarship to go to school and have your education paid for by a benefactor. In this case, it happens to be a potential employer and the trade-off is a week or two of intensely hard work and crunch time which either leads to landing the gig or getting your stomach punched in – figuratively.
I’ve been living la freelancing vida loca lately and enjoying the grind quite a bit. Between web copywriting gigs and generating entrepreneurship content, I’ve kept myself busy enough to feel productively sane.
I’ve also benefited from a bit of “trialing.”
It’s a term endeared to consultants and employers who’ve taken on enough stringers in their lifetime to know that there’s such a thing as over-promising on a relationship that might not work out.
The same concept applies to us lowly stringers on the opposite end coming from a place where I’ve signed on to work for/with someone only to realize a few weeks into it, that it just wasn’t meant to be.
So having been put through some trialing recently with some new clients I engaged through virtually networking my little tush off, I’ve come to realize the benefits of trialing far outweigh the cons.
- Commitment-free means fewer facial lines: Being a successful freelancer demands you try your hand at many different jobs before you can pick the ones that are right for you. This also translates to having the time available to do this which means before you commit, do yourself a favor and walk the walk. You’ll be less stressed out for it!
- Choosy freelancers choose the best gigs: Don’t be afraid to turn down something you don’t really want to do. If you can swing it financially and have enough on the backburner (even if it’s on a low flame), then respectfully decline the project, but don’t burn the contact. Your contact will respect that you were self-aware enough of your enthusiasm (or lack thereof) to let this project go, not to mention considerate enough to be upfront with them.
- Juggle freely but don’t lose focus: Be mindful of learning curves while trialing. Most of the time what on average might take you half the time once you’ve mastered the rhythm of a particular project and aren’t reinventing the wheel each time, will take you double or 3X the time in the beginning. Be patient with yourself and factor in the excess time when taking on a lot of trial gigs at once.
- Flat rates work best: I remember feeling so guilty when I charged a client an hourly rate for my first assignment and it took me twice the time it should have. I felt pressured to get it done faster so as not to charge too high while trying to put my best foot forward and make a good impression so I could land more work. Recently, when a new client approached me and suggested a flat rate for copy for the first two sites she commissioned me to work on, I was able to to take my precious time and make sure that I got the copy down pat before sending it off to the “printer.”