Increasing the Odds: Tips for Contractors

In the e-learning industry, many of us work as contractors. This type of work has its ups and downs: the flexibility can be great, but waiting for a client to call can be excruciatingly frustrating. I worked as a contractor myself for several years, and now I supervise the work of contractors. Seeing this dynamic from both sides has taught me that while you can’t directly control the amount of work that comes your way, there are things you can do as a contractor to increase the odds of receiving “the call.”

Keep the lines of communication open.

Sometimes, projects are offered to more than one contractor at a time, and the first to respond gets the work. Regularly checking email, voice mail, and text messages will give you a better chance of being the first to respond. You don’t want to get the email that says, “Sorry, I didn’t hear back from you, so I sent this project to someone else.”

Say “yes.”

Job requests don’t always fit into your schedule as perfectly as you wish they would. However, there’s a difference between an inconvenience and an impossibility. In most cases, if you can do it, you should do it. Save “no” for the times when you absolutely can’t complete the project on time, not the times you just don’t feel like it. That way, when you do say “no” your client will see it as an exception.  This is the type of contractor clients want to call again.

Try fixing things yourself first.

Regardless of how long you’ve been in the industry, you may find yourself stuck at times. Make it your policy to do a little research before asking the client for help. There’s nothing wrong with needing help from time to time, but if that question can be answered by doing a quick search, why not handle it yourself? You won’t have to wait for the client to answer, the timeline won’t be thrown off, and you’ll get to look like you knew what you were doing all along. Your client will appreciate the time savings as well; with a packed schedule, saving them even five minutes is a big help.

Provide a quality product.

Read and reread the instructions for the project. Check and double-check the list of edits you’ve been asked to make. Proofread and edit your storyboards carefully. Your clients need to know that they can expect a quality product from you. Returning work that’s riddled with mistakes makes more work for your client and sends the wrong message: that you want them to take care of it for you. Clients don’t want or expect that from a contractor.

Be on time.

This is my number one piece of advice. Things happen—family emergencies, technical difficulties, illnesses. They can all lead to problems with completing work on time. However, you need to do whatever you possibly can to meet the stated deadline. If it means rearranging your schedule or staying up late or using the wi-fi at the coffee shop, do it. If there’s just no way to avoid being late, treat that very seriously when communicating with the client. Give them as much notice as you possibly can—more time means more options for solving the problem. Let them know that you are truly sorry for the inconvenience and that you realize the client may face consequences themselves for your tardiness. Otherwise, you may find yourself at the bottom of the list—if you’re still on it at all. 

What are your tips for getting more contract work?

Tammi Ritter
Artisan E-Learning

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