Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Here’s What Happens When You Don’t Time Projects Correctly

Last week after much negotiation, I landed a new client needing help with an extensive ebook project that really interests me. I’ve been doing the preliminary research in preparation for all of the writing required, which is a lot. The problem is I didn’t give myself a large enough window of time to comfortably complete it.

Figuring out how long it will take to complete a project was a big problem when I first started freelancing. I pulled quite a few all nighters as a result. It doesn’t happen nearly as often as it used to, but on the rare occasion that I do take on a project and misjudge the amount of time it will take me to complete it without yanking every last strand of hair from my scalp, I find myself feeling overwhelmed and anxious. I know that I CAN complete this client’s project within the amount of time I’ve allotted, but I so hate that rushed feeling.

As you may have heard me mention before, I have an accountability partner, another writer who lives/works in Santa Barbara, California I speak with each morning to discuss our daily objectives. She once mentioned to me that she is not a fast turnaround writer. She tells all clients that their projects will typically be completed within 2-3 weeks (sometimes longer depending on the project) which gives her enough cushion to work at her own pace. Anything requiring immediate attention gets charged an appropriate rush fee (she considers anything due within one week a rush job).

Whenever clients contact her with crazy turn around expectations, she quickly lets them know she doesn’t work that way and thinks nothing of turning down the work because it’s not worth the stress. And yet she always has projects in the pipeline because she continuously networks and markets her business.

I’ve noticed that many web writing clients expect a quick turn around. Maybe it’s directly related to the nature of the web – instant gratification? I’m not sure.

In the meantime, I’ve carefully mapped out the time I’ll spend researching, writing, proofreading and editing this project so that I meet the established deadline. Personal projects will have to be placed on the backburner (which really makes me want to kick myself), because I have other client projects that will also require my attention during this time. Has anyone out there figured out a full-proof method of determining out how long a project will take to complete?


Lori said...

No foolproof method of guesstimating, but I will say I've gone back to clients and told them the time expected isn't adequate. I do it early in the project and let them know the scope of the work was the problem - not anything else. Sometimes they don't realize the work involved, and many times they're glad you're communicating. I had one project that was due in October, I believe. I was halfway through August and one-fourth the way through that project, which I'd been working on since March. No way it was happening. It was obvious. I was killing myself. So I told them I needed more time in order to complete it properly. They tried pushing back, but you can't demand what can't be done. They complied, and I got the thing done - with help - in eight months. Never again.

But telling them ahead of time made the difference. They were eager to get the project posted and get earnings going, but it would've been crap otherwise.

Kimberly Ben said...

Well, I figured there's no foolproof way of making sure there's enough time to complete a project. A girl can wish though...

If I didn't already know the topic like the back of my hand, this would REALLY be a problem.

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