Web workers are often hired on on a contract basis. The benefit, and the failing, of contract work is that it is not permanent, and almost always ends. Sometimes you may have ample warning of a contract’s end date if you’ve established a set term beforehand, but sometimes the end comes unexpectedly, and you should always be prepared for that unfortunate possibility. Here’s a guide to the steps you should take when a contract closes.
I wanted to start with feedback because it’s valuable regardless of the outcome of your contract engagement. Whether your client loved you or hated you, finding out why can only help you in the long run. You can use feedback to spot your faults and improve, to capture best practices, and to help convey the impression to your employer that you’re a conscientious worker.
There are different ways to go about soliciting feedback, and some methods might be more effective than others depending on who you’re working with. Some prefer a personal approach, but in all cases I find it best to have an Adobe feedback form ready to go soon after the project starts. Generally, you can use one standard form, and maybe tailor it a bit for different clients. Adobe forms have the advantage of being portable, accessible on every platform, and easy to create.
Recover Intellectual Property
When you’re doing work for a client, you’re also doing work for yourself, in that you are producing IP that you can use to sell your services to other clients. Valuable IP could be templates, presentations and even content sometimes. The key is knowing what you can and can’t shop around once the contract has ended.
As long as you scrub anything that you actually create for a client of any reference to their company, and of any client-related content, you should be able to use it going forward either to demo your abilities to others, or as the basis for future work. No use reinventing the wheel every time, right?
Ask for Another Contract/Reference
If you don’t ask for more work, most of the time you won’t get it. Even if someone was pleased with what you gave them, they might not even think about recommending you for upcoming contracts in their own or other areas for the simple reason that it just didn’t cross their mind. A lot of contractors will shy away from asking about future projects directly because they don’t want to appear needy or desperate, but there’s nothing needy about wanting to work.
As for references, you’d better ask if you plan on using them at all in the future, because even if you think a project went wonderfully, the person paying the bill might have different ideas altogether. Failing to ask about references is something that can seriously affect your ability to secure work in the future. It’s better to be sure someone doesn’t like the work you did than to assume they did and leave yourself open to the possibility that they didn’t. There’s also no harm in asking if you can use a showcase project in your sales efforts.
Some of these steps may seem more obvious than others, but all are designed to make sure you get the most out of the end of a contract. It’s a time when you may feel overwhelmed, and things tend to happen in rapid succession, but if you’re prepared and you develop a routine that’s easy to replicate, it can be a positive experience, or at the very least not a total write-off. The nature of the freelance web working beast is that all contracts must end, so there’s no reason not to be prepared.
What procedure do you follow when closing a contract?