My eyes played a trick on me several days ago (EDIT: I wrote this post in January). I received an e-mail titled 'Your "someday" items', coming from Ed Gandia's website, which I'd subscribed some time back in the ice age, but for some reason what I saw was 'Your "someday" terms'.
Ironically, this little hallucination perhaps relates to something to something I read in a book Gandia co-penned ages ago with Steve Slaunwhite and Pete Savage (The Wealthy Freelancer, which you should read if you haven't yet), though I'm not sure my subconscious process was as complex as that. I probably thought simply of contract terms.
In any case, the old something was a very sensible piece of advice, reflecting the law of growth: even if you can't be too fussy about what projects you take right now, you should still have a target list of standards you want to be your bottom line one day.
When I saw 'your someday terms', I thought not so much about essential terms, such as rates and deadlines, but about more terms-y terms, such as copyrights, moral rights (including credit), payment deadlines, acceptance and rejection, corrections, liability and so on.
You may be in the fortunate position of already having exactly the terms you want. Most people are not.
I invite you to see that, in terms of progress, rates aren't the only thing that should or could go up. So are your reputation, your professional standing and your work comfort and satisfaction, not to mention liquidity and stability. All of these are affected by the terms of the contracts you sign and POs, specs, instructions and other rules you accept as binding. Hence it would be a mistake to focus exclusively on rates.
The easiest example I could give you is difficulty. Chances are difficulty raises the bar so high that few people can compete, so there is less price pressure. Normally, however, it's much more likely that a text that pays 20% better will also consume 80% more time, because it's so much more difficult. Thus, it's certainly possible to give yourself a nominal raise and seemingly defend it but start making less money in the end result. The same is true about other things than the difficulty of things you do or the time it takes you to do them. We'll visit some of them in a separate post soon.
Knowing what terms you want is the first step to getting there — sooner or later, eventually, and if not exactly there, then at least a little closer. Remember not to deny yourself the small steps just because you can't make the big leap right now.
There is a reason I didn't say 'ideally' — this is a long-term project that might well never see its target fully achieved, but don't fret. The easiest way not to move anywhere is to stop walking. Any step you do make makes your life at least a little easier.
Please see my next post about non-financial terms and meanwhile let me just introduce the suggestion that clients who are not in a position to make your life easier budget-wise could still make your life easier in other ways, so just because you can't get better rates doesn't mean you can't help some other things.
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