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Getting started as a freelance cartographer


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#31
James Hines

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LOL I couldn't resist.

"There is much beauty that we fail to see through our own eyes teeming with life forms that give us that perception of our reality.  Leaves on the trees blowing gently in the wind, or scarily, the waves pounding through high surf, or lightly on a warm summer’s day; that opportunity to sit or swim in the water on a white beach.   That comfort to shout, “The universal conscious do you hear me?  I am alive, guide me dear logos towards the path of rightnesses.”  Earned what has been kept, no longer to be absorbed into a life filled with cold damn winds and  that stubborn fog clouding  my vision with nothing but darkness."


#32
Derek Tonn

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I apologize to the forum for dragging out an obvious troll post but I'm losing my patience and sympathy for s hubbard.


David,

I'll give s hubbard the benefit of the doubt, I guess. Even though I think that tone has no place in CartoTalk. I do know that on a few issues, I probably come off a little (a lot?) "preachy." It's just because I:

A. Care a great deal about certain topics, and
B. Feel as though I have good knowledge/experience to offer on certain topics.

Related to graphic design issues (color, type, balance between positive/negative space, etc.) and education related to the operations side of running a business, I have roughly 16 years of professional experience and 7+ years of business coursework (B.A./MBA) under my belt. More than most, related specifically to the cartographic industry.

When it comes to GIS, the Magic 8-ball on my desk might know more than I do! :lol: Consequently, I keep my mouth shut in those types of threads and just read/listen/learn! When it comes to running a business though, that's my 'hood or backyard...so I tend to get a little long in the tooth. Which is probably interpreted by people who don't know me as a "chip on my shoulder" or me thinking I am "a wee bit superior to thee." That's not it at all! It's just a field I have spent the past 21 years of my life working on.

We're all experts and we're all idiots...it just depends upon what topic is being discussed at any given moment. For the things we are "experts" at, share our $1.50 with the group so the rest of us can learn! And for the things where we are idiots?! We all (myself included) need to use our ears/eyes a lot more than our fingers/mouths.
Derek Tonn
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mapformation, LLC

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http://www.mapformation.com

#33
Geographic Techniques

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Ah, the democracy!..The hurts and the pains... This is Cartotalk at its finest! Where else can you find the trials and tribulations of being in the cartography business? We may have all experienced similar experiences (or not if you're lucky), but we certainly can learn from others.

Seriously, thank you sharing your frustrations, and for this forum! We as maps are human too.

P.S. I believe Mt. Horeb (WI) might actually be the Troll capital of the world (apologies to Norway). Where else will you will you find the "Trollway"? :lol:

Mount Horeb Trollway
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#34
James Hines

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you still didn't offer any solutions >> excellent reminder of what, how?
put yourself in a bad spot? are we suppossed to be psychic like you?
you offered nothing - and the dead beat thing again - wow, you didnt even read the post

so you think i'm being rude huh? i'm being honest and making truthful comments.

still, no one has offered a solution - just petty ramblings about how i didn't psychicly know that this huge company is a dead-beat? come on people.


To be fair putting myself on the fire line......

You have a business problem, I understand it even more then you do. At least you get clients, not counting sub contracts I get no requests. Now talk about sales problems, it's clear that I do, & I'm willing to let go of my ego to admit it. Heck I even lost out on a possible relationship with an ex-crush of mine. Now Derek has no responsibility teaching you how to run your business, he can only give you advice on how you can solve your own problems.

Now your problem deals with a client that does not want to pay you, now ask the client what's going on. Is the client broke? If so be patient. Is the client a dead beat? Don't take business from him ever again & spread the word. Simply it's the clients reputation that gets hurt not yours. And before you know it your client is an elancer. Or maybe the client is dissatisfied with your work & hasn't told you yet. Either someone else is re-doing your project or the client has abandoned the project altogether.

and yes, i wil go down and see a different person, higher up the chain, who i personally know from before.
and yes, i will probably get my payment cause i know him.


There is a saying, never take projects from your friends, maybe he's taking advantage of your good nature.

really good interaction here. i can tell who can dish it out, but not take it back >>


Rate now your not taking it too well. Like I said your getting offers while I get none. You should try living in Nova Scotia, Povertyville, high taxes, very little employment in the high tech industry, & low income for 80% of the population. In other words for the majority of freelancers in Nova Scotia the market is international not local making it hard to get clients especially if they want to meet you one on one. You should count yourself lucky not to be an east coast Canadian.

that's ok Hans, i'm done. did you really just make the "pretty please" comment - and then tell us to watch our tone? amazing. i wondered why with over 8,000 members - there is only a handful of posts every day.
no we know why...all this, and not one bit of constructive help. just stuck-up responses. i guess you guys know it all!
good luck with all that power >>


That depends on how many of them are simply too busy to post because they have work to do. Of course there are some who make the time.

"There is much beauty that we fail to see through our own eyes teeming with life forms that give us that perception of our reality.  Leaves on the trees blowing gently in the wind, or scarily, the waves pounding through high surf, or lightly on a warm summer’s day; that opportunity to sit or swim in the water on a white beach.   That comfort to shout, “The universal conscious do you hear me?  I am alive, guide me dear logos towards the path of rightnesses.”  Earned what has been kept, no longer to be absorbed into a life filled with cold damn winds and  that stubborn fog clouding  my vision with nothing but darkness."


#35
François Goulet

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Apart taking the non-paying clients to court, I don't know if there's a mean to force them to pay.
Even your friend there may not be able to do it (depending of it's position).

My girlfiend is doing freelance translation work and she did a couple of contracts for a friend who was in charge of the Web Marketing Department for a large supermarket company. She received some of her biggest checks about 6 months later! Her friend did transfer her invoice to the Finance Department as soon as she received it, but once it was there (another department in another city), there was nothing we could do. She knew she would get paid, but even her friend couldn't call the Finance department to tell them to hurry up for she'd been told "It's in treatment. She will received her checks when we get there". bigger company, bigger structures and sometimes bigger problems to get paid.

Nevertheless, here's some trick that anyone should try in the future:
http://freelancefold...ing-ripped-off/
http://freelancefold...p-you-get-paid/

I know it can't solve you problem, but sometimes there isn't a simple solution. Even for the most experienced of us. It sucks but there's nothing we can do.

#36
MapMedia

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It is critical to know each client's invoice fulfillment terms. Some of my clients have a 30 day fulfillment term, others 60. If I want to do business with them, I accept these terms. Forgetting these terms and freaking out (follow up emails or phone calls) would look silly on my part. :D Hence, partial payment upfront is great, since the client expedites this payment (they want something) and I have my overhead costs covered. Then the remainder of the balance, of which I have to wait 30-60 days, is profit. Fortunately, less than 10% of my clients have 30-60 day payment terms.

#37
frax

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Has anyone had any experience in selling invoices? I assume a collection agency would require all paperwork (contacts) to be properly signed etc.

I haven't yet had a problem with clients delaying payment of invoices for other reasons than bureaucracy and incompetence. I have a fairly big invoice waiting to be paid, sitting on a desk in Nairobi now - waiting for UN paperwork and a manager's approval...
Hugo Ahlenius
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#38
MapMedia

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For small invoices I would avoid debt collectors. I would always suggest to try to work with the client, sit down with them and say 'I need to get paid - I have 2 kids to feed, etc. I am willing to work with you on a payment plan or other solution.' I sometimes get approached with other-than-cash offers, such as shares in a startup or merchandise - at least they are being honest up front about their inability or unwillingness to pay with cash.

#39
Derek Tonn

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I personally think that the biggest mistake we all (as humans) make is thinking that working for ourselves will be easy. No idiot boss telling us how to do our jobs. Working in our pajamas all day from home. Phones ringing constantly, with people who just can't WAIT to hire us! People never, EVER paying their bills late...or quibbling over design fees. Etc.

So why is it that people think that running their own business will be easy?! Sales and marketing is an art/science. A strong understanding of finance will keep a LOT more businesses afloat during leaner economic times. Exposure to Business Law? Could be the difference between protecting your back-sides in your contractual agreements and being held over a barrel. Etc, etc. However, most liberal arts programs around North America don't even require "Business/Economics 101" in their core curriculum...even though the vast majority of that institution's graduates will go to work for businesses or start their own small businesses at some point in their life, with 99-100% of graduates having to manage their own personal finances and cashflows. Most trade/tech schools? Same thing.

I get it, I think. "Business is easy! Map-making is hard." The great fallacy in all of that, however, is forgetting that any trade/field could be listed in either of those two "blanks." ;)
Derek Tonn
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mapformation, LLC

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http://www.mapformation.com

#40
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MapMedia, I didn't mean debt collectors that kick in when the bills have been unpaid - I meant more the kind of outsourcing where you sell the invoices for some 90% of their value, and they do the invoicing for you (I have no idea about the percentage there!).
Hugo Ahlenius
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#41
DaveB

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Derek,
I don't think it's neccessarily that people think business is easy. I think it's more the case that for many of us creative types business is not interesting (as well as difficult, possibly because of the lack of interest in it) so we avoid it. But you're quite right that some training in that stuff would be a good thing for anyone planning on going freelance. I avoided it by not going freelance and letting someone else handle the business stuff. :)
Dave Barnes
Esri
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#42
MapMedia

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I look at freelancing, or even starting/running a small business, as the trill of the hunt - you want to be independent, yet also be fulfilled in the sort of work you do. I wouldn't think what I do worthwhile if all I did was making street maps (boring!).

In terms of STAYING in business, you have to adopt and maintain the right behaviors. Just as in a personal relationship, you can really suck at some things, and have blinders on (avoidance). Successful people in relationships or business are great in many aspects, sort of like jacks of all trades - and damn good in each category. Some people are natural at it, others require a lot of discipline to train themselves and keep at it. When I started freelancing 3 yrs ago, my biggest blinder was marketing when my workload was full. I had trained myself as an employee, to focus focus focus on work, but then had to set aside 2 hrs a day to market. Things like accounting I threw up my hands and let my wife handle - delegate where you can :)

#43
Derek Tonn

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Very good postings, you two!

I've probably gone the other way the past 4-5 years. The more time has marched on, the LESS map design I am doing. However, it is not because I don't love to design. Rather, it is because there are people on our team who can draw me under the table if we were to ever have a "contest," while those same people don't get the enjoyment I do out of market research, quantitative analysis, web development, sales, etc. Do what each of us does best for the sake of all boats rising.

Our team has just recently undergone a bit of a shuffling of the deck related to who does what, and especially how we do things. We (in 2009) were still doing organizational tasks the way we did them in 2005...when we were half the size. The BIG advantage of teaming up with others is the specialization and focus it allows. Rather than me having to wear 100 hats in running my own business, now I only have to wear 20! That means I have more time to focus on doing those "20" things very, very well...while leaving the other "80" things to other people who are more than capable (and/or better at them than I am).

We're still kind of in No Man's Land related to our company's size. Too big to pretend to be "freelancers" anymore, but still too small to feel "corporate." Maybe that is the best of both worlds though?! We get some of the economies of scale from working together while avoiding being too big/impersonal and losing touch with some of the nuts and bolts. We have lost a little bit of our "high-touch" the past year or two as I've approached burn-out from having to wear too many hats! However, the steps we are taking in 2010 to correct that have me very hopeful that we will be positioned to have an absolutely tremendous run over the next 3-5+ years.

Moral of the story? Give up as many of those "hats" as you can afford to employees/partners/vendors and really focus on CRUSHING with the things you do well. Let the experts at other tasks do their jobs...so you can knock it out of the park doing yours. B)
Derek Tonn
Founder and CEO
mapformation, LLC

datonn@mapformation.com
http://www.mapformation.com

#44
David Medeiros

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Will there be another freelancer discussion group at this years NACIS meeting? I hope so. I'm not sure I'll be able to attend, but the practical cartography schedule and freelancer discussion group will be my primary draws. Those of you who are succesfully doing this work on your own are a big inspiration to guys like me, keep it coming!

GIS Reference and Instruction Specialist, Stanford Geospatial Center.

 

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#45
Hans van der Maarel

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Will there be another freelancer discussion group at this years NACIS meeting? I hope so. I'm not sure I'll be able to attend, but the practical cartography schedule and freelancer discussion group will be my primary draws. Those of you who are succesfully doing this work on your own are a big inspiration to guys like me, keep it coming!


Well, as one of the panelists, I certainly wouldn't mind doing it again this year and I'll definately bring it up with NACIS. There is also an article in the upcoming issue of Digital CP devoted to this subject.
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