So, how is choosing a pony like choosing a freelancer?
I went horse-riding on Saturday (for the first time in years) and had asked for a “slow” pony. What I should have asked for, I realised, as my pony bucked a little and tried to bite her reflection in the arena mirror, all the while needing to be forced out of a v e r y slow walk, was a “slow and placid” pony. Never mind – I had fun and I could cope with the pony, and learned a lesson about asking for what I wanted as well as expecting what I’d asked for.
And then, I’ve just finished reading a book (look out for the review on my book blog) in which the heroine *twice* gets what she wanted, only to find out it’s not what she really wanted at all. Cue heartbreak and all sorts of lessons learned.
All this got me thinking about how, especially when we’re hiring people to do work for us, we need to think about what we (really) want before we specify the terms and conditions. If you’re using a proof-reader/copy-editor (yes, I know – I’ll explain the difference soon!), it’s useful to realise up front that you need to cut some word count, for example. This is something we can do, but it’s far easier for us (and cheaper for you in terms of time and money) to do it as we go along, rather than having to go back through the document, snipping away. If you’re concerned about a particular aspect of the project, tell us – ask away; if we’re any good, we’ll accept your questions, answer them and reassure you. I would much rather you, the client, were happy with the outcome and relaxed throughout the process, even if that means I do a shorter, smaller project for you or you don’t use me at all!
So, whether you’re choosing a pony, a life partner or a freelancer, think carefully about what you’re asking for, before you ask for it.