I’ll give you all the details in a moment, but I have lots of time from the remainder of September onward for new project work.
TL; DR: As long as work fits within my existing skillset, I look for UX work that is high on adventure, that lets me interact with a variety of people in different places in order to make a difference. So, I structured an offer that is engineered to win my heart as it leads me right down this path!
Offer: For work through the remainder of September, I’ll travel at mostly my own expense for new project work. Clients can pay my normal hourly rate and pay no travel expense beyond airfare.
The extended explanation of what factors go into my decision to accept available work opportunities
Skillset – First, and most importantly, I look at what kind of skillset a potential client is asking for on a project. Perhaps half the time I’m approached, the skillset is simply wrong. For example, the work is really solidly UX design work, not the research and strategy work where my expertise lies. That’s not to say I’d decline if there was a little bit of design work as part of the job, but whether interaction design or visual design, my expertise falls into research and strategy much more so than design.
Adventure – As long as the skillset is a reasonable match, my next step is to picture myself doing the work. Is it exciting? Does it let me interact with a variety of people in valuable ways? Does it let me do good? Make a difference? Go somewhere interesting and different? Ultimately, do I feel a little thrill when I consider doing the work?
Rate of pay – Hourly or project rates can vary tremendously so I want to make sure that the rate is within the ballpark of my range. That said, while I have a standard rate for standard work, to at least some extent, work that is high on adventure can be a little lower on pay. Work that is high in visibility and exposure can be much lower on pay.
Availability – I look at what kind of bandwidth the project will involve and for how long and make sure that would work in light of any other commitments that I have. Short projects are often the easiest puzzle pieces to fit, but longer projects are good too, as long as they provide some flexibility to fit in the shorter projects here and there so that I don’t lose clients for lack of availability. Projects that are full-time and long-term simultaneously are the riskiest. Since there is no commitment of ongoing work, these risk pulling me out of the game for too long such that when they end, I’m stuck with no work for a long time.
It’s a balancing act
Ultimately, it’s a balancing act. I’ve targeted a minimum of about 75% billability each year, and more or less I’ve reached that target and simultaneously met my target revenue. But I also dislike not being busy with billable work or even non-billable “UX adventure” for too long, so I do my best to modulate some of the above factors.
So how does the September offer win my heart?
With my standard rate, this modulates by reducing my effective income while increasing my reach to areas that wouldn’t otherwise want to pay for a non-local resource. This also effectively increases the adventure component by placing me with new people in a new place for what by definition is in-person work.
I care greatly about the work that I do, the people that I get to work with and the places in which I get to do the work.
I’m not quite sure how the puzzle pieces will fit next, but if you’re interested in working with me, I just gave you the keys you need to easily convince me that I should be working with you!
Image: BigStockPhoto.com / 1STunningArt