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Fulltime to Freelance. Contract Negotiating

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Mike Patrick
Fulltime to Freelance. Contract Negotiating
on Jun 8, 2009 at 10:54:23 pm

Here I am again posting about my current work situation its ever-changing dynamics. For a quick recap, I work fulltime (permalance-no benefits, 401k) in the entertainment department for a professional sport team in the New York area. My job consists of shooting practices, game-day action, community relation events, run and guns news updates, as well as studio shows which I then edit into various segments and output to either broadcast television or compress for the teams website.

When I posted a few months back about renegotiating my fulltime contract come springtime, I received some great advice from you guys here on the COW stating, the best move might be to get out and move on.

Although I didn’t fully get out, I have slightly moved on by picking up a few side jobs here and there continuing to build relationships and experience outside the organization barring no conflicts of interest or schedule.

In a recent positive turn of events, I was told more money was allocated for my services in this year’s budget. A feat I’ve been chasing for almost two years. However, the catch is I have to decide whether I want to become full-time staff employee, which would include benefits and 401k with little or no time for side jobs, or work solely as a freelancer.

Although some might think I’m crazy, I’ve decided to choose freelancing. I’ve just started to prove myself in areas of the industry I’m more passionate about. Besides I’m 27, just moved back home with mom and dad, and have a car payment…that’s it.

So, next week I have to deliver my decision to the Bossman, and as I’ve never been confronted with a business decision like this, I’m a little green as to how I should approach the situation.

What type of pay structure should I look out for? Dayrate, Hourly, Seasonal? Should I allow the Bossman to structure a contract, and negotiate from there? Or, should I draft up a written contract myself and hand it to him after I deliver my decision? If the latter is so, what should I include in the contract? The Bossman has been known to be a bit of a grinder to outside vendors, and I’d like to prepare myself as best as possible to avoid being grinded.

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Bob Zelin
Re: Fulltime to Freelance. Contract Negotiating
on Jun 8, 2009 at 11:31:15 pm

you are a freelancer - there is no contract. You negotiate your day rate. No hourly - do you want to ruin another freelance opportunity if they want to book you for 1 - 3pm ?

Don't make it complicated for them, or you. This is your rate, no benefits, no contracts, no complicated discussions. You should stay freelance - there is no such thing as a "permanent" full time job - those days are over. It's better to always feel unemployed, and keep looking for the next job. If you are staff for 20 years, and get "let go" at age 47 instead of 27, it won't look so rosie !


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Franklin McMahon
Re: Fulltime to Freelance. Contract Negotiating
on Jun 9, 2009 at 12:03:41 am

It's good you are looking out for grinding, because that is essentially what the "Bossman" has probably been doing to you for two years. You've been "chasing higher pay for 2 years", working full time while the company pays you absolutely no benefits and judging from your job description, you are doing it all and more in dedication to the company.

What you need to do now is negotiate, nothing is more important, and it has nothing to do with skills or promises of future money need to decide what you want and present it. It's a gamble but if you don't ask for what you want, you'll never get it. There are many, many books on negotiation, it is an art, so its worth cramming for this "exam".

You've been working 2 years in one place, that makes you very valuable and your position very pivotal. Beleive me, if I had a talented person I invested two years into, I would be very anxious if I sensed they might be planning a move.

People think because they are not an employee they have nothing to bargain with. They do. Its not on paper, but its trust and commitment and dedication. I am sure your boss wants to continue with you, and would fully be willing to bump up the package to keep you. You just need to ask for it. Ask for what you want, then add more. That way if its trimmed back, you still get what you want. And if he can't give you what you want, and need, you're going to go through many many years with that person, constantly not getting what you think you should.

Deciding to become an employee or freelance is a choice only you can make. But I do suggest really working to negotiate for what you really want out of the relationship. You've put in the time and dedication, you deserve more.


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Gav Bott
Re: Fulltime to Freelance. Contract Negotiating
on Jun 9, 2009 at 2:18:53 am

The guys above have already given you the good word.

If you decide to go Freelance, before you go an tell him:-

Work out your day rate.

Work out your week rate (if you want to encourage block bookings)

Work out your payment details.

And let them know what they are, and that you would love to carry on working with them as much as they want to book you.

The Brit in Brisbane
The Pomme in Production - Brisbane Australia.

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Mike Patrick
Re: Fulltime to Freelance. Contract Negotiating
on Jun 9, 2009 at 2:30:30 pm

Great words of wisdom Franklin. I have a good idea what would make me happy to continue working as a freelancer, however, the one thing i feel i need to prepared for is what he might throw back at me. Are there any "Gotchas" that a seasoned negotiator might throw at newbie that i should keep an eye out for?

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Mark Suszko
Re: Fulltime to Freelance. Contract Negotiating
on Jun 9, 2009 at 4:37:05 pm

Well I think he's crazy to pass up benefits, but I'm old with a family to support and he's single and young enough that if it blows up, he'll survive okay. In any case this job doesn't sound like one he'll retire on in any case, so what we're talkign about here is probably 4-5 years, then he's going to want to leave anyhow.

Good point about the "you can be replaced like that" speech: they CAN always put another person into the job, but they always do some arithmatic in their heads about the relative cost/benefits ratio. A new guy, even a trained guy, has to be brought up to speed. There is paperwork. There are client relationships to re-establish, etc. people to fit in with, and a way of doing things that needs to be learned. There is a hassle factor to replacing someone who is good at their job and otherwise should stay. When they can put a cash value to that hassle factor, it just so happens to nearly coincide with how much they are willing to raise your pay. If you demand much more than that, the math then goes against you.

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Timothy J. Allen
Re: Fulltime to Freelance. Contract Negotiating
on Jun 9, 2009 at 5:18:45 pm

I'm afraid I might be misunderstanding Bob, when he said as a freelancer "there is no contract". I think a contract, or a less formal agreement, is really only worthwhile as a communications tool - to remind people what the agreement is. That means it's not worth much if you are dealing with unethical people.

Hopefully, you are dealing with ethical people - the kind that a handshake would be "word enough". Even so, I think that if they expect to have a "preferred client" status with you or if you expect to be a "preferred vendor" with them, it would be helpful for you to draft a Memorandum of Agreement that spells out what that means and outlines some basic understandings between you and this particular client.

I'd present this Memorandum of Agreement as a tool to streamline the freelancing process with you for EACH job.

I'd talk with them before drafting the agreement and find out things such as...
  • Are they going to expect you to be available with X days notice?
  • Can you use the materials you produce in your own advertising for your freelance services?
  • What are the terms for payment?
  • Are they going to guarantee a minimum amount of work within a certain period of time?

None of this has to be outlined, and I'd keep this agreement as simple as possible - but if they want to put any particular constraints on you, you need to be compensated and that agreement needs to be documented in some written fashion. Above all, you don't want to agree to anything that would impede your ability to effectively market yourself to additional clients.

As they try to gain things from you, (for instance, for cost efficiency, it wouldn't surprise me if they expect you not to raise your rate with them for a certain amount of time) you need to be able to counter with demands that balance the scale.

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