The Power of Choice

I think one of the best parts of freelancing is choosing who I work with. Back when I was working for the man, my biggest point of contention with my employers was that eventually we’d get that client that paid the bills in exchange for essentially turning us into mindless task-executing puppets. It didn’t matter how good our arguments were against their “design decisions” — production and design would roll their eyes and build the thing because management was running the show.

This happened in every single place I worked over 15 years. So now that I’m on my own, I no longer have the advantage of avoiding that decision between firing a client and compromising to pay the bills; however, I have gained the advantage of choice.

It’s in our contract that our role in the business relationship is that of a partner, not an employee; we work with our clients, not for them. It’s an extremely important distinction that goes ignored by clients who quickly make the firing list. If we aren’t allowed to develop and design based on our experience, then we’re not interested. That doesn’t mean we’re always right, it just means that there’s a good chance that when we say “that’s a bad idea” it’s because we’ve made the mistake of going in that direction before with dire results and we don’t feel like making that mistake a second time.

Besides: when things to wrong, the third party developer/designer is the easiest party to place the blame onto. I’d much rather own my own mistakes than someone else’s; who wouldn’t? The fact is if I build something I know isn’t going to work and collect cash for it, I’m an asshole. If I don’t build something that I know isn’t going to work, I’ll probably not be liked too much by my client but either they’ll get over it, or the relationship will dissolve. In that scenario at least I’ll have retained my integrity.

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Brendan Quinn

Brendan Quinn

Brendan builds stuff and solves problems, often with code and cookies in equal proportions. He's the co-owner of Squid&Crow: a Tri-Cities design and development firm that helps pay his bills, and Forked, LLC: a game design studio that helps give him an excuse to not completely grow up. He's married to his partner in both of the aforementioned endeavors, Sara Taylor, and lives in Pasco WA with her and their eternal puppy Lila.

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  • Becca Lingley

    Integrity is important. And so is pride in the work you create. I’m glad you have worded your contracts to match your company (and personal) goals!

  • I agree with Becca. Integrity is everything. What makes me sad is when I get to know people who claim to be people of integrity who simply aren’t. If we believe what we tell ourselves, then that makes what we say to ourselves so incredibly important.