1. Deliver a good quality job within the deadline.
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2. Don’t accept a job outside your abilities.
The “abilities” refer to specific area (a job outside your specialization), format (you are not on friendly terms with the relevant software), deadline (your best turnaround is not high enough to deliver the job on time), subcontractors (specialization again), etc.
3. Before accepting a job, check it thoroughly and fully.
Assess the complexity. Take the wordcount (and compare it to the wordcount in the PO). Leaf the file trough to the very end: if the first few pages look innocent it doesn’t necessarily mean the entire file is like that – there might be an ugly surprise closer to the bottom! If the file is to be processed in a specialized program, check if it opens alright (there might be tags or .ini file missing, or your software version is a bit too old to process it).
4. Before accepting a job, discuss all the details.
Payment issue is not a problem with regular clients, but an assignment of a new type might be. A good example is proofreading of a very poor translation: the deadline might turn impossible (and payment on per word basis way too low) because of the inferior quality. Delivery format, use of CAT tools, glossary to keep to – all of these should be discussed in advance.
5. Ask for a later deadline.
You know your turnaround better than anybody else, but it’s always good to be on the safe side. Most of the problems emerging while you are working (a virus, your kids phoning and asking to drive them home from school because they were late for the bus, or a severe headache) won’t last more than a few hours. But it’s these hours that you may be short of to complete the job. On the average, reserve 5% to 20% of the time, depending on the reliability of your system/hardware/working process).
6. Inform the client immediately if something goes wrong.
Internet connection problems, your PC going nuts, files not opening, family events requiring your interference – there are lots of things popping up in the course of work. Don’t hesitate – inform the client at once. In most cases, the deadline would be shifter accordingly, to everybody’s satisfaction.
7. Keep your word.
At times it is problematic – mostly, if you didn’t follow the above rules. While working on the job, you may discover that you undercharged (see #2 & 3), or the progress is too slow (see #1 & 4) – well, nobody was ever killed by a sleepless night. And that’ll be a good lesson!
8. Identify you principles, stick to them and be ready to accept the consequences.
The principles vary – there is no ideal solution – and each one would have its pros and contras. If you look for more jobs and work at lower rates, be prepared that the inflow of work may sometimes be overwhelming (it’s also true for those working at the highest rates, though!) If you subcontract, you will sometimes face with non-delivery or poor quality from your subcontractors. Anyway, try to work out the best principles and put up with their negative consequences! Comply with the general best practices and work out your own, like confirming every business message, getting confirmations of deliveries, storing archives and creating backup files, etc. Time spent on arranging the work process will help you to avoid problems in the future, and you’ll be rewarded for it.
9. Get a confirmation of a job receipt from the outsourcer.
A job is only delivered when the client received it. Even at that stage, the project cannot be regarded as completed: there might be minor changes requested by the end client, or some other follow-up. A job is generally regarded finished only after you get paid for it.
10. Enjoy it!