You hire an independent contractor. She does great work. So you hire her again, and again, and again. This is how the gig economy works. Finally! You've found the perfect independent contractor who can do the job, on time, and on budget. And you've learned something along the way, about how to manage a hired gun, and it's made you a better boss.
Oh, but there's more. The secret lives of freelancers. What are we doing, anyway?
Here are 7 things we will never tell you:
1. We have no idea what we're doing.
Particularly if the work is creative—say, art or prose—we have no idea what we're doing. Not really, anyway. This is creative work, not writing code. There is no right way. There is no wrong way. This is guesswork. Sure hope you like it!
2. We use fuzzy math.
Most of us work at home. That means we may spend 45 minutes out of an hour focusing on your project and 15 minutes watching the end of "Bethenny Ever After." Or walking the dog, who had to go right then and would not wait. Or eating lunch and finishing up that project at the same time. Are we overbilling you? Are we underbilling you? It's hard to say.
3. We did it all wrong.
On occasion, we create work for you that's awful. Usually, this type of work is created over a long period of time with intense focus and great seriousness. Then we look back at what we've done and realize, this is terrible. That's when we scrap it all and whip out a new site design for you in half an hour. That's how we roll.
4. We don't like you.
Ideally, we like you. That's great! You trust us with your vision, you pay us on time, and you keep giving us more work. You are our dream boss. Unfortunately, we have a lot of different bosses in the freelance game, and they're not all as good as you. The other one is a harpy, a brow-beater, and insists on paying us on the last possible day according to our contract. The thing is: You'll never know the difference. We may make gagging motions when employers we don't like call, but we never let on how we really feel. We're just that good.
5. We needed you to pay us yesterday.
One of the hardest things about being a freelancer is juggling the financial end of things. Rarely do we pull a steady paycheck. Instead, we can spend days waiting for the mailman to come and hoping to God you bothered to put our check in the mail. We may seem cool about the fact that you forgot to get a check cut for us (again), but inside we are screaming.
6. You're not our priority.
How we prioritize our workload changes. During a slow week, we may take more time working on the projects we like the most. During a busy week, those who pay us the most may get top billing. Getting us to do a job for you at less than we'd like to be paid may get the job done, but it may also land you at the bottom of our to-do pile on a regular basis.
7. Referrals beget loyalty.
Want to charm the sweatpants off your independent contractor? Find us more work. When we're not working, we're hustling to find work, and those who hire us and recommend us are revered like freelance gods. Take the time to write a recommendation on our LinkedIn profile. Tell someone else looking for an independent contractor that they should hire us. We're our own boss, and making us happy makes us want to make you happy, too.