My G.I.F. For New Projects

Let’s talk about my process for onboarding new projects today (dog picture at the end)! 🤘🏻🤓🐶

Initially, like most newbie freelancers, I said “yes” to pretty much every project that floated my way. I quickly learned that wasn’t necessary and though I never left a project dip below my standards, I had a LOT of long days and nights (and Coffee) to crank away and not let anyone down (especially myself). Even with the awareness of being a yes-man, I still struggle(d) with pulling the trigger on the old “no.”

Why? Because I am a softy.

Marshmallow Man Bbq Films GIF by BBQ Films Presents: Ghostbusters - Find & Share on GIPHY

I can pretty easily be coerced, persuaded, flattered, and bribed into doing things for people: especially friends. These attempts on my livelihood happen quite often and the projects usually work out (I have good friends 👫👬), but when they don’t—I am left kicking myself for saying yes, again!

My attempts at “no” have improved over time by falling back on one of my mantras of “slowing down to speed up” whenever I can, but that alone didn’t seem like enough, so I recently created a process for evaluating potential projects and relationships to aid me in this battle:

What’s the GIG? Who are the INDIVIDUALS involved? What do the FINANCES look like?

Gig — Individuals — Finances.

(my) G.I.F.

(see what I did there?) Okay 😬, now the deets:

Questions about the GIG

  • What is the Project?
  • Am I physically creating something?
    • Yes, continue on.
    • No, then am I just ideating or consulting?
      • Yes, continue on.
      • No, then I am not interested and the next two areas (I & F) don’t even matter.
  • Will this project challenge me?
    • Yes, then I am anxious to see how both the individuals and finances look.
    • No, then I am anxious to see how the finances look.
  • How will this project interact with my “Big 3” (being a good husband, a good father, and maintaining my daily self-care routine of exercise, meditation, a healthy diet, and quiet study/reflection)?
    • Positively or won’t interfere, then continue on.
    • Can potentially get in the way at times, then tread carefully into the next two areas.
    • Will definitely be a burden, then I am not interested and the next two areas don’t matter.

I believe these questions are all very individual-based. For me they revolve around what makes me “tick” as a creative, my responsibilities away from work, and sustainability of this career for decades to come.

Questions about the INDIVIDUALS

  • Are the people I will be interacting with competent in their roles?
    • No, then this might not be for me depending on the amount of interaction and dependency involved.
    • Yes, then are they hard-working, down-to-earth, pragmatic adults?
      • No, then this might not be for me depending on the finances and amount of interaction and dependency involved.
  • Are the people involved my friend(s) and could the project have a negative effect on our relationship?
    • No they are not friends, then continue on.
    • Yes they are friends, but are they competent friends?
      • Yes, continue on.
      • No, then this might not be for me depending on the amount of interaction and dependency involved.
    • Yes it could have a negative effect on our relationship, then I am not interested and the next area (F) doesn’t matter.
  • Who will be paying me and are they reliable?
    • Yes they are reliable, so continue on.
    • No they aren’t, so tread carefully into the actual finances.

Even if the project is a commission for a solo work, you still have to interact with the person commissioning you. And, if you want your work to not only be good, but timeless, it’s paramount you trust and understand the people you are working with. Also, don’t ruin a friendship just because working together might “seem like fun.” Be sure both parties can handle the relationship once it becomes professional too.

Questions about the FINANCES

  • How much does the gig pay?
  • Is the amount “fair” when weighing answers to the 2 areas above (G & I)?
    • Yes, then continue on.
    • No, then negotiate what I think it should be.
      • Negotiations went well, then move on.
      • Negotiations went bad, then this might not be for me depending on areas above and the question to come.
  • Can the individuals or organization meet my pay schedule (I prefer monthly payments, with the final amount spread out evenly over the length of the job)?
    • Yes, then continue on.
    • No, then a downpayment (at least 1/3 of the final amount)?
      • Yes, then continue on.
      • No, then this might not be for me depending on previous areas.

I mean we absolutely deserve to get paid and paid well when we are putting our heart and soul into our projects. “Talking money” is often the most disliked part of the job for some people, but I like it. I like it because it’s an opportunity to both assess how much the people you are potentially working with value you, and it’s accountability, which can drive motivation on days where the muses aren’t speaking to us as much as we’d like.

And, that’s it!

I usually write out the answers in my trusty notebook (for when the deliberate process of writing something out is necessary). I have already taken on 1 new project with this approach and it helped me slow down a lot, which I think will really help me speed up once I am deep into the creative process with them. Like my Project List from last week, I plan to reevaluate each of my professional relationships with this G.I.F. every quarter, and on a day where I don’t do any normal 9-5 creative work, but take the day off to reflect and see how things are (actually) going.

So, that’s a process for the freelance noobs like me, but what about you? How could this process be incorporated into your life if it doesn’t involve autonomous creative work? Maybe deciding between new hobbies that pique your interest? Or perhaps you realize you have a little extra time each day and want to fill it with something nurturing to you, so you need to decide between volunteer work, a cooking class, or more time at the yoga studio (that would be my choice 🧘)?

Thanks for reading and I’d love to hear from you in the comment area below! As your reward for today’s read, here’s Keiko Cupcake relaxing next to me the other night (a RARE occurrence right now).

9 thoughts on “My G.I.F. For New Projects”

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  2. Great read Chad! I am so glad / proud that we have been able to maintain a professional relationship without tarnishing the respect and love I have for our friendship! Thank you again for EVERYTHING!!!

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