Yesterday’s Gone

By Paul Lombino

Someday, some client is going to describe their next editorial project to me and end the conversation with “and can you have it done yesterday?”

As a species, freelancers are reluctant to disappoint clients. So in August when a new client from a prestigious firm with a rich history came to me and proposed a major revision of their company’s 60-page website, I was eager to take it on.

Then he told me the deadline. Gulp. His schedule was — how to put it — implausible.

It wasn’t a matter of putting in more time or working faster. Without getting into detail, there were simply not enough hours in the day. I’m not one to lecture, but I will offer one suggestion when scheduling your next big editorial assignment. If possible, allow a “reasonable” lead time.

Merriam-Webster defines reasonable as “not extreme or excessive.” One way to determine reasonableness is to schedule backwards. If, for example, you have a week, two weeks, a month, whatever, break down your project by fundamental tasks.

  • How long does it take to produce a page of copy?
  • What other people are involved in the review process?
  • Is source material readily available or does your project factor in time for research?

Once you gather all those pieces, determine if the puzzle fits together cohesively.  Does your timeline add up with room for contingencies along the way?

Quality Requires Time

Every project is unique in its own way. And, granted, sometimes emergencies occur that demand tight turnaround times. But time and quality go hand-in-glove. Once you decide an editorial need exists at your business, don’t wait for the last minute to contact your freelance professional. Ask questions to establish a reasonable timeframe. Not for their sake. And not even for yours.

In the end, what matters is presenting a targeted sales message to your customers. If you’re concerned about piling up billable hours on a limited budget, many freelancers are willing to work with your marketing department to negotiate a fixed price. What matters is telling a compelling story. Your company’s story. Now isn’t that worth a reasonable amount of time?

Remember, when you’re planning your next editorial project, yesterday’s gone.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Yesterday’s Gone

  1. Excellent advice, Paul! It is not possible for the next person on the chain to defy time as we know it. The more leeway, the better the quality.

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