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Switching contracts

polycounter lvl 5
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Busterizer polycounter lvl 5
Is it good idea to try and switch clients, while already doing freelance work for a client? I already work freelance work, but if I find a client that is willing to pay more, is it a good idea to make the switch before my work is done with previous client (basically I would quit myself)?

I ask this since I am not really happy with my current position and I don't get clear indication as to for how long I will be doing my work for said client.

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  • ZacD
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    ZacD polycounter
    It'd probably be best to at least try to wrap up your current work with your existing client, you don't want to burn any bridges, someone you are working with at your current client might end up moving to a different company and remember your name when they are looking for contract work. You can always take on 2 clients at once if there's no conflict in the contracts.
  • DanglinBob
    Yeah I am certainly of the opinion that the game industry is SMALL. You start doing things that make people upset and you WILL run into them again in unexpected places.

    Take on both clients, that's my advice... unless it is totally impossible. In which case try to be as diplomatic as possible. Even to the extent of going to the current client to explain the situation and see if there's a way to offload some of your work... I'd avoid just up and quitting. Good artists that produce work on time and on budget are SO hard to find - and those that don't do that are easy to throw away. You don't want to be in that last group :)
  • Kevin Albers
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    Kevin Albers polycounter lvl 15
    +1 for 'keep adding clients. Try to avoid abandoning clients before their current needs have been satisfied'
  • ysalex
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    ysalex interpolator
    I agree with the argument about small industry etc., but id like to add that just suddenly ditching a project that you signed on for isn't a cool move in general to do to another person, independent of whatever bad karma you want to avoid later.

    If you have to leave, be as gracious about it as you can and give them a chance to maintain continuity. Give them a couple weeks notice, suggest a plan for transferring all the current WIP files, possibly even suggest a replacement artist who you think might be available and capable, if it seems appropriate.

    Also, depending on the contract you signed with them, if they've paid you in part for an unfinished project you might be beholden to either finishing that project off or repaying them the money if you have no intent of finishing for services partially paid for.

    There's nothing wrong with switching clients, just like there is nothing wrong with switching employers, but do your best to handle it in a gracious way by not putting them in a bad position, and make sure you abide by the contract if it covers such a scenario.

    Also just to add, if you're unhappy with the client side participation or feedback, it's always helpful to communicate that and let them know how it will positively affect your preformance for them. They might not be aware that they're making your job harder.
  • kanga
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    kanga sublime tool
    I agree with the argument about small industry etc., but id like to add that just suddenly ditching a project that you signed on for isn't a cool move in general to do to another person, independent of whatever bad karma you want to avoid later.

    If you have to leave, be as gracious about it as you can and give them a chance to maintain continuity. Give them a couple weeks notice, suggest a plan for transferring all the current WIP files, possibly even suggest a replacement artist who you think might be available and capable, if it seems appropriate.

    Also, depending on the contract you signed with them, if they've paid you in part for an unfinished project you might be beholden to either finishing that project off or repaying them the money if you have no intent of finishing for services partially paid for.

    There's nothing wrong with switching clients, just like there is nothing wrong with switching employers, but so your best to handle it in a gracious way and make sure you abide by the contract if it covers such a scenario.
    The above, but some thoughts from me.
    Freelance work works both ways. A client can dismiss you tomorrow which is why it is interesting for customers to use temporary artists. If you are being underpaid or mistreated you can stop work anytime you please. If your current client is asking a lot of volume for little return you may be honest and inform your current client that the present situation is unsustainable and to stay in business you need to charge a reasonable price. You are the one taking the risks and this situation never arises commercially because most jobs usually last no more than a couple of weeks. Perhaps your situation is something like an indy client who cant pay much but wants you to work full time on developing a game, which can take years.

    Be honest and inform the first client, if they are unable to pay give them a time limit for the termination of your services, inform the second client you would be pleased to work for them and inform them of your step-over time. We cant see what the workload is so we don't know how difficult it would be to work for both. You should have more clients if you are a freelancer, very lucky freelancers have only a few good clients.

    Hope that helps
  • coljwood
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    coljwood vertex
    I've a couple of these situations lately. Doing small freelance projects for next to nothing, and then suddenly something big will come on and take my attention, and pay fairly.

    In both situations I informed the first client that I simply didn't have time to delay the large, newer project in order to priorities theirs, and could not afford to not take the larger project on (played up the fact that i'm just a small Freelancer and expenses were important).

    Both scenarios worked in my favour, as the first time the client simply allowed more time and stated that the deadline wasn't a huge issue. The second scenario, I was offered an increase in payment and promised a further, larger project (which is now completed and paid for) if I could get their project done as soon as possible.

    Obviously, the tactic could backfire and the client can just tell you where to go, but by being honest both situations worked in my favour.
  • kanga
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    kanga sublime tool
    I read back what I wrote and it seems kind of harsh. I guess to avoid the situation you could inform low paying clients that you have time to work at a special rate but the situation could change and that payment by hour or units delivered would be best for both parties. I dont think you should promise full 24/7 service to low budget long term projects. That sounds like the situation you might be in.
  • Kitty|Owl
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    Kitty|Owl polycounter lvl 3
    Be prepared for clients to react completely randomly.
    A few years ago I had a client and a better opportunity (offer you cannot refuse) came along a few months in, I accepted it and notified the current client that I would work to the next deadline for them about 5-6 weeks notice in total (as I had arranged to start the new contract the day after).

    To me, with the importance of the deadline it was a reasonable offer, they had been extremely happy with the work I had already done and my working relationships were good.

    Needless to say they didn't react as expected and immediately released me from my contract leaving me with 6 weeks of free time/no income.
    The lesson learned was that no matter how accommodating you try and be in this type of situation people can and may take it as a slight on them or their company.

    Whilst is seems like a bad thing, it is actually better to let clients know that you are running a business and have your own goals/responsibilities to stick too.
    Do your best work and let them know in advance if there is an opportunity that arises you need to take (never use the word "want", explain it as a matter of profit). Some people may get annoyed with you as it is only natural, normally however with seemingly endless contracts they are fine as there is no way they can expect you to work for them forever.

    Ducking out of contracts that are only a week-3 months is a definite DO NOT DO. Even up to 6 months it can be risky leaving at 3-5 months in. never leave the month before the contract is due to end anyway, normally a company offering something better can wait or is willing to have you work less hours until you finish up the first contract.

    alternatively if you are really worried, get a/your lawyer to deal with contract related issues. That way it is very clear that you are running a business and removes any personal conflicts that can arise from handling it yourself. A good lawyer can normally negotiate a better deal for you to begin with anyway (they can also give fairly decent advice on which contracts to turn down).
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