The 7 Phases of Freelancer Relationships

Endless Labyrinth

This conversation is written in the view of someone who needs something done (employer/CEO) and a person with the skills to complete the task (freelancer/Developer).

The Idea Phase
CEO: Woah! What an awesome idea! There's nothing on the market for this. I want to make this idea something everyone uses. Now to make it happen...

The Contracting Phase
CEO: What's up developer!? I got your contact info from this site/person. I've got a foolproof idea on my hands and I need you to build it. When it's done, I'll give you {compensation}, contacts, and even a recommendation. Aren't I so nice? Here are the wireframes/idea/list-of-things-to-do. Let's get cracking!

Developer: Ok. Cool. Simple idea. I'm only one junior/senior developer, but I can definitely handle this project.

The "Omg features!" Phase
CEO: How are we going to make money off this? Wouldn't it be great if this app/website/product had a {geolocation}{connect with friends}{rewards} feature-idea!? Let me email my developer my brilliant feature-idea. (types email)

Developer: (checks email) Cool. I'll add that to my spec.

CEO: (starts assembling a board of non-technical advisors)

The "Omg more features!" Phase
CEO: Woah! I'm an idea faucet! I've got yet another feature-idea. (emails developer)

Developer: Another feature. Fine. Added to spec.

CEO: (meets with 3+ advisors) I'm being so productive! And the advisers think {feature-idea} is such a brilliant idea. (emails Developer the good news)

Developer: Uh great? I'm glad some non-technical-person-who-has-absolutely-no-idea-how-much-work-is-involved-in-making-this-happen has validated your feature. Are you done changing the spec for the product already?

The Unrealistic Expectations Phase
CEO: I'm literally soooooo brilliant. I've got another "wouldn't it be great if {insert feature-idea} happened" idea!

Developer: (starts to dread checking email) (has 7 emails from CEO saying so-and-so thought the past 5 feature ideas were brilliant + another 2 feature-idea emails) This is ridiculous. Just let me build the damn product already!

The Appreciation Phase
CEO: Hey developer! I sincerely appreciate you helping me with my startup idea. I know I haven't paid you in money/equity yet, but I'm going to give you {said compensation} when this is a tried and true company. You're the bestest!

Developer: (facepalm) What is my life... I'm going back to school where I can do hackathons all the time and never deal with the features and gratitude of these messed up freelancing/side gigs.

The Cliff-Diving Phase
CEO: No you can't go! You just don't get it do you? This is going to change the world and all you can think about is money/time behind it. You just don't see the vision do you!?

Developer: Dude. I build stuff for a living. I don't dream about building it. I do it. So don't give me this nonsense about being unable to see the bigger picture. And give me some compensation/money/equity for my time!

CEO: No! You never completed the project! I don't owe you anything. We said you would build and finish my idea and its obviously not done. So...up yours!

Developer: What!!! I worked on this product for 3 days/weeks/months! My hourly rate is $20-100 and I worked 20/100/1000 hours. You owe me $$$! I have bills to pay!

CEO: Sucks for you.

Developer: (sends invoice) (sends followup email) (sends 2nd followup email) I don't want to have to go to claims court... Why did I take this gig in the first place! I knew from their first over-friendly smile it was too good to be true! (writes it off as a tax deduction + time waster)

CEO: (talks to advisors who wholeheartedly assure her/him the falling out was absolutely not their fault) I've learned so much about hiring freelancers/developers because that person was obviously not good enough for me/idea/company. It's ok. Supply and demand. I've got money/equity/credentials and I'll find someone new, bright, and shiny!

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Leave a comment which phase you're in/have been in before!

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