You won’t pay me?! Nabbesh freelancers reveal the top 10 excuses used by clients to avoid payment.

Many of our Nabbesh guest bloggers have spoken about the challenges of freelancing particularly in the Middle East. The fact that we lack a mature marketplace, proper regulations to protect freelancers as well as a lack of best practices may deter many people from venturing into the freelance world.

At Nabbesh, we have made it our mission to enable freelancing via the creation of a transparent marketplace as well as learning from our community to establish a set of best practices for freelancers, regardless of their type of skill, to provide their services to clients and more importantly get paid for their work.

During September 2013, we surveyed our 25,000 freelancers from across the Middle East, with a majority in the UAE, Lebanon and Jordan to find out about their attitudes towards freelancing.

The survey has revealed that whilst freelancers are accustomed to doing free jobs for friends and family, volunteering or offering sample work to improve their portfolio, a whopping 30% of freelancers have come across a non-paying client in their career.

Here are the top 10 reasons and the story-lines behind them :

 

Middle East Freelancers not getting paid

– He/ she was not happy with the quality of work

– We had a disagreement on the fees that should be paid

– Client kept delaying and postponing and then ignoring follow up

– Client was deceitful – It turned out to be a scam

– Client simply doesn’t like to pay anyone, I found out he did the same to many other freelancers

– Client claimed they weren’t making enough money to pay me

– Client did not understand the amount of work that was put in providing the service

– I was too young to put proper agreements in place and they took advantage of that

– Client had a cashflow problem or company (startup) closed

– Company management put the project on hold and decided not to pay

– There was a requirement, deliverable and communication gap

Call it occupational hazard, freelancers are prone to these types of clients and need to protect themselves at all times and have the ability to pick up the warning signs.

Some went as far as calling it an attribute to the Middle Eastern culture as highlighted by one of the respondents: “I did not get paid by clients more than once. I blame the lack of professionalism in the Middle East. Now I don’t even lift a pencil without a non-refundable down-payment.”

We do not agree with the notion that “professionalism” is lacking in the Middle East. We believe that in the presence of a marketplace, both parties will be required to be respectful and ethical in the way they treat each other and it is the marketplace that will reward freelancers and clients who honor their agreements and deliver quality work.

We highly recommend that freelancers put together agreements (like this sample agreement from the Freelancers Union)  with their clients detailing a concrete scope of work and a milestone-based payment. Another common practice is to ask for a deposit before starting the work. Lastly, ensure you agree on the method of payment and make sure to understand the various charges for the money transfers, for example, a bank may charge up to 30$ for a transfer.

In order to be enablers for freelancing, Nabbesh is launching an online payment facility where clients are required to pay upfront for services, in the form of a deposit that Nabbesh holds in Escrow, while freelancers are bound to the work they agreed to deliver. Freelancers will get paid once the project or task has been completed.

While it may not be a panacea for the freelancing woes, we believe that a marketplace can create a layer of trust, which protects its participants and enables a healthy environment. 88% of our survey respondents confirmed that they will be managing their payments through Nabbesh in order to get paid in a timely manner and have a strong mediator in the event of conflict.

As we prepare for this major step in Nabbesh’s development we look forward to more feedback from you, to help you get better freelance gigs and we hope that our tips will help you stay vigilant!

Note: The full survey will be shared as soon as the data compiling is complete!

How I Stumbled Into Freelancing as a Résumé Stylist

We are interested in learning about how people choose the freelance journey. This is a guest post by Yvette Ali who is currently a Résumé Stylist by night and homemaker and part-time student by day. Her exhaustive career spans over a period of 20 years in everything from sales, marketing, management, operations to small business. Originally from the United States Virgin Islands, she has worked and served clients both in the USA and the UAE. 

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After years of working the 9 to 5 lifestyle, I felt stifled. At day’s end, there did not seem like much room for creativity left in the corporate world. Rumors of company cutbacks pushed me to start thinking what if I lost my job? That in addition to the fact that I needed some extra cash to pay for my college classes pushed me to a brown study mode where I began to identify my marketable skill-sets. I had done a few résumés for my colleagues and students with great reviews and feedback – until one day someone offered to pay me to do theirs. Hence, my ah-ha moment!

I began on a small-scale and grew my clientele base over time via word-of-mouth and eventually social media. Although, this has never been a full-time gig for me, it has allowed me to work whenever I need to and make some extra income. There have been times, I’ve had to turn clients away. But I did not become a great resume-writer overnight, which is my key takeaway here: you must maintain a solid grasp of the latest developments in your area of expertise and focus on selling or marketing one skill that you have truly mastered. Clients looking for freelancers do not want a jack of all trades.

My advice to those who want to become freelancers is to take a close look at all of your current skills and interests to see if any of them can be turned into a freelancing career. This can be just about anything you’re really good at, have good knowledge of, and most importantly really enjoy doing. The possibilities are endless and can run from copywriting, business writing, and audio production to catering, cartooning, researching, social media virtual assistant, photography, proofreading, language translation, medical transcription, tutoring, voice-overs and dog training. The potentials are well worth looking into. Best of all, it’s a business you can run out of your own home right from your kitchen table, although I highly recommend establishing a home office free of distraction. You can establish your own hours and take it to any level you desire! Most  importantly, pursue a path that you REALLY are good at, otherwise you will find yourself pushed outside the door by your more qualified peers.

 

Interested in connecting to Yvette? You can reach her on twitter or via Nabbesh

Joe Akkawi: We’ve had over 10 jobs completed through Nabbesh!

Freelancers help businesses grow and expand. And in this new series on our blog we are sitting together with employers who are actively using Nabbesh to find out how that is done.

We are happy to launch it with an interview with Joe Akkawi, the Managing Partner of Paz Marketing  to find out how their agency has integrated freelancers within their DNA. Paz Marketing  is a MENA based integrated solutions agency for public relations, events, and social media to help brands connect with the correct audiences.

 

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1-      How has working with Freelancers helped you build Paz Marketing?

Freelancers have helped us fill certain gaps that extend beyond our core product offering. Sometimes the key to winning a business is offering a full communication package to our clients and there are certain proficiencies that we might lack internally. Nothing a good reliable freelancer can’t solve!

2-      How has your personal experience as an employee turned  freelancer turned entrepreneur helped you hire better freelancers?

It has helped me most with understanding how to manage timelines. Freelancers sometimes over commit to multiple projects due to need of income while we need to take necessary steps to manage clients expectations. Giving promises based on timelines you can’t control is dangerous and being a freelancer in the past has helped me project and estimate how much time a project might need.

3-      What are your top 3 tips for hiring freelancers?

  1. Take your time. Plenty of talent around. Pick the one that suits you best
  2. Never keep the relationship over email. It’s never personal and meeting the freelancer can give you insight about them and where they can help you more.
  3. Hold on to talent you’ve worked with before. Variety is nice but solid results are better.

4-      In which areas is hiring a freelancer better than a full-timer?

When a service needed is not a core offering of your business. It doesn’t make sense to hire someone for a role that will not generate business or revenue for your company

5-      In your opinion what role do freelancers play in the advertising & communications industry? 

Freelancers are seen as both an asset and a threat. As an asset freelancers can play multiple roles from design to consulting and development. It’s a very wide talent pool and can contribute to any part of the communication process. Yet freelancers pose a threat to agencies that lose clients to freelancers who offer humble services for more affordable fees. This has been on the rise in the UAE in the fields of web design, PR, and social media.  Everyone’s always looking to save. It’s the human condition.

6-      What UAE regulatory issues can one encounter when hiring freelancers?

There are two main issues:

a. Having a freelancer work in your office can lead to trouble if you get inspection on site and they don’t have a labor card.

b.   For companies that audit their finances, freelancers who don’t have correctly marked invoices are a nightmare for finance to work with.

 

7- We’d love to hear about your experience hiring freelancers through Nabbesh! What are your insights? 

Hiring through Nabbesh is organized, quick and efficient. We’ve had over 10 jobs completed through Nabbesh.com in the fields of SEO, SEM, Social, Consulting, Design and Artwork. We even build an affiliation with someone we hired for a job and he now consults on all our business.

The entire experience has been solid but on a general note, the region is struggling to find good Arabic speaking, writing talent. You might have to do some Arabic legwork yourself to get some projects off the ground.

Additionally with new pay-through-the-website feature coming soon, a lot of pressure on sorting out payments with freelancers will be alleviated. I’m also looking forward to a mobile app.

 

We would love to take this conversation further! Let us know your thoughts in the comments and connect with us on twitter

Nabbesh freelancers! Here are 5 tips to land a job via Nabbesh.

We have recently been on a hiring spree to grow the Nabbesh team by recruiting expert freelancers from across the Middle East to work on specific tasks or even manage certain business areas.

Our needs range from technology related jobs, to data analysis tasks to business development and community management! So of course we put Nabbesh to the test!

We were not able to fill all the positions yet, however we thought we’d share with you our top 5 tips to land a job via Nabbesh. Quite frankly, these tips are built into our selection criteria!

1 – Be professional

No matter how friendly or casual a job description may seem, make sure your application is professional. Do not use jokes, caps, shorthand or inappropriate language. Before you submit your application, make sure it is free of typos or major grammatical errors; it can be a turn off for employers. Make sure you spell the employer or the company’s name correctly. If English is not your first language then clearly mention it in your application in order to set the expectations, employers will respect you for that.

2 – Read the job description

There is nothing more off-putting to employers than someone responding in a generic way for a specific job description. For example “I am interested” or “I can do the job” which can signal to the employer that you did not make any effort to address his or her needs. Take the time to read the job post, understand the requirements and address them in your application. Highlight key strengths that you may have in relation to the job like relevant industry or market experience, refer to your skills listed on your Nabbesh profile page as well as highlight your portfolio on Nabbesh.

3 – Be specific in your application

Employers have a short attention span and they quickly scan for relevant information with respect to their job post. Be brief, make sure you get the employer’s attention but not necessarily tell them your life story. Do not by any shape or form copy and paste your CV into the job application as this will certainly lead to your application being ignored. From our experience, CVs are secondary to how you phrase your job application and how you convince the employer that you are the person for the job!

4 – Show your enthusiasm

It is quite nice when you end your application with comforting notes like how much you would love to work for the employer, that you are willing to provide the employer with additional information if needed, that you are available to start immediately and that this is an opportunity that you wouldn’t want to miss! Flattery goes a long way.

5- Follow up

Employers may be busy and may forget to respond, or they may have several applicants that they are interviewing or several proposals to go through. If you follow the above tips, we are almost 100% sure that you will get a response. In case you don’t, it is always beneficial to drop the employer a gentle reminder mentioning that you are looking forward to hear from them and always offer additional information if needed to further emphasize why you are perfect for the job!

We wish you good luck! And we are still taking applications for the jobs on Nabbesh. To apply please visit http://www.nabbesh.com/careers

Top Five Tips from One Freelancer to the Other

This is a guest post by Zainab Mansoor, a freelancer journalist and contributor to various local and international publications. She is an equally doting mom and strives to strike a perfect balance every day.

Contrary to popular belief, freelancing or the freelance industry is a comprehensive order. There are clear do’s and don’ts in the business that should adhered to, but it differs from person to person, experience to experience. Below are a few of my personal tips to all freelancers out there, pitching for work or otherwise.

1- Let not your missives speak. Written letter with tall orders are so clichéd these days – Avoid them completely. Share your profile, portfolio and your list of strengths in which you excel or wish to excel. Instead of words, be dexterous in work.

2- Association is key. Keep contact with your previous clients. Stay in touch through social mediums for repeat work or referrals.

3- Avoid baring your desperation. If there is a dearth of projects up your sleeve, look at alternate avenues for work. Desperation can make people go all funny and do things they may regret a while later. Don’t under-rate your work or its value by offering work at substantial rates. Offering reasonable pricing for repeat clients make sense but ridiculing your profile is a different game altogether.

4- Respect thy privacy. Projects may or may not contain confidential company and employee information. Irrespective, avoid discussing project or work related details with associates, family or friends. Let the details stay locked on a workstation.

5- Sense of Humor, hold on tight. Do not let circumstances get to you! There may be white and black days, highs and lows, pleasant and not so pleasant criticism. Hang in there and lay supine, facing the sky. Crack a joke or two while you’re at it!

Have you found these tips useful? Let Zainab know and make sure to follow her on twitter  @zzainabmansoor!

How to Keep Up Your Morale as a Freelance Writer

This is a Guest Post by  Anne John, a software engineer who switched careers to follow her passion for the written word. Currently she works as a web content manager with an online women’s magazine and moonlights as a freelance writer and editor. 

Anne John

Freelancing comes with many perks such as the ability to choose your work assignments and work flexibility. However, it has its downside as well. A common problem that most newbie freelancer writers face is keeping up your morale as you kick-start your freelance writing career. Trust me, I’ve been there. As a beginner, you haven’t built up a strong portfolio yet and with every pitch you send out, your hopes go soaring, only to fizzle out a week later. Rejection is hard to face and we freelance writers voluntarily expose ourselves to rejection over and over again. One of the hardest things to do when starting out as a freelance writer is keeping up your morale in the face of continuous disappointments. Here are 3 tips that helped me keep my chin up – and will hopefully help you too:

 

1. Learn to feel good about yourself: Although it is very difficult to believe in yourself when you keep getting rejection letters from editors, it is also exactly the time to give yourself some love. I save every good comment or appreciative feedback that I ever got for my writing. It could be from family, friends or total strangers. It could be on one of your published articles or even on your blog. Build a database of all the positive comments that your writing has ever garnered – you could print out the comments and save them in a folder or simply bookmark them on your computer. When you are feeling particularly uncharitable towards yourself, revisit them. Surely, all those people would not be wrong about you? This will help nip negativity in the bud, cheer you up, build your confidence and restore your faith in your work.

Keep Up Your Morale
Photo credit: Jennifer (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License.)

 

2. Don’t take it personally: Don’t take every rejection as a personal attack on your writing skills. Perhaps, the pitch was not suited to that particular publication at that point in time or perhaps they carried a similar piece quite recently or maybe the editor simply missed seeing your mail. You have no clue and there is no need to be offended. Train yourself to let it go. If the editor gives you any explanation for turning down your pitch, view it as constructive criticism and see what you can learn from it.

 

3. Keep writing for yourself: Most freelance writers start out because of their love and passion for writing. However, we often have to alter our writing to suit the editors’ or readers’ tastes and requirements. Soon, many writers get disillusioned with the whole process and writing begins to lose its charm. To prevent this, keep writing for yourself too. Maintain a blog or a journal where you can give free reign to your pen without worrying about word limits and house style. Simply savor expressing yourself and keep the magic of writing alive. I hope these pointers will help keep your morale up on your freelance journey! All the best!

 

Don’t forget to connect with Anne via her profile on Nabbesh and follow @annejwrites on twitter.

Freelance and be your own boss

We’ve finally seen mainstream media catch on to what we’ve been saying all along, freelancing is a viable working option for those who want to be their own boss.  All the data supports it. Over 65% of MENA professionals believe that freelancing offers a better work life balance, allows you to do what you love and gives you more control over your career.  7 out of 10 people would consider freelancing.

Nabbesh.com has been helping thousands of freelancers and employers connect for over a year now. Whether you’re already in full time employment and want to earn money from your skills after hours, or you’re a mompreneur who needs a work schedule on your terms, find an opportunity for you on Nabbesh.com

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www.nabbesh.com – empowering people to do what they love from anywhere

Are you cut out for Freelancing?

By: Kathy Shalhoub

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So you want to be a freelancer, yes? Well, wanting something is great, and doing it is even greater. But to actually do it, and be good at it, and have someone pay you for it, you should probably ask yourselves a few questions first.

  1. Do you like being alone?

    Sadly, most of freelance work involves you and your skill and no one else. Can you handle that? Some people are made for it, some people aren’t. Think about this point very seriously and don’t try to convince yourself that it could work if it can’t! If you crave company, can you find it? Can you go work in a coffee shop, work with a friend, or find common spaces where other freelancers get together?

  2. Where are you now?

    Ok, what does this mean. It means if you’ve been working in marketing all your life you can’t suddenly quit your job and decide you want to be a freelance photographer and expect the jobs to start coming in. If that’s what you want to be, you need to build up to it and start gradually. Figure out where you are, where you want to be, then find a reasonable (and realistic!) path to getting there.

  3. Can you afford it?

    Need I elaborate? I will anyway just in case. Unless someone can support you while your freelancing career takes off, then you need X amount of Dirhams, Liras or Dollars per month to live on (at least). It will take you Y amount of months when you first start freelancing for you to start making X/month, so you will need to have at least X*Y amount of money in the bank before you start! Develop a financial plan, create a budget for yourself, and stick to it! That means you may have to pass up a couple nights out or those Prada shoes if things are a little slow this month.

  4. Are you flexible and organized?

    Ok, freelancing 101. Assignment comes in, you have a deadline in three weeks. No problem! You have time, it can wait. Two days before it’s due, you sit down to work on it, and all of a sudden three more assignments roll in the following day. Ooopsie! Now you need to pull a couple all-nighters to finish everything. But what about the Madonna concert you have tickets to? No problem, you have notes that will help you finish everything on time! But where are they? Rats, you stuffed them into the cat’s litter box when you were out of litter. It’s ok, you’ll just tell them you’re too busy. Ahem, check your financial plan, can you afford to pass up a couple projects? Be organized! Develop a schedule that works for you, and work for that schedule!

  5. Can you separate work from life?

    Anyone who’s been in a relationship with a ‘freelancer-who-can’t’, will tell you how much they hate it! If you think it’s bad when full-timers are checking their Blackberry every ten minutes, try a freelancer running to her computer every nanosecond you turn your back, so that she can just finish that one last thing that’s been bothering her. If you plan to live with someone more conversational than a toaster for any period of time, develop a relatively normal work schedule and stick to it. Your personal life will thank you!

  6. Can you be your own boss?

    Wait a second! I thought the whole perk of being a freelancer is that you don’t have a boss? Sorry guys, but no matter how much a boss sucks, they do one thing that is imperative to your success: they keep you on track! That means that in the space of an hour, you don’t get a 15-minute cigarette break, a 20-minute coffee break and a 10-minute bathroom break before you’ve even started your project! Being your own boss means pushing yourself to work hard and to be self-disciplined. Otherwise, find someone to do it for you i.e. get a job!

  7. Can you sell yourself?

    Listen, I’m a freelancer not a salesman! Ok ok I know but… you want work? Sell yourself. And do it well! It’s as simple as that. See previous post: Know Yourself, Sell Yourself!

  8. Can you say ‘No’, and can you handle it when someone says ‘No’ to you?

    Imagine this: You haven’t had work for three weeks and that whole budget thing is hanging over your head. Was there a project you were putting off until now? Was there some networking you’ve been planning to do? Now is the time! All of a sudden, a few projects come up with the same deadline. No problem! You’ll just rush through them all and do a mediocre job for everyone, right? Will that get you repeat customers? Nope! Will that help your bottom line? Only this month. Don’t take on more than you can handle, and keep a backup plan for any unplanned stretches of free time.

That’s all folks! Happy Freelancing and enjoy your funemployment!

Disclaimers: I didn’t come up with ‘funemployment’, I read it somewhere on Facebook. And also, this post is based on content from Get a Freelance Life by Margit Feury Ragland.

Blogger’s Bio: Kathy studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Paris. She is also a writer and published her first book, Life as a Leb-neh Lover, in 2010. Kathy is fascinated by matters of the mind, self discovery, self acceptance and personal development and is currently researching these topics. Check out her blog, ‘like’ her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @Lebneh_Lover.