Your freelance pitch was successful and there may be a bit of time now before the project kicks off (not always, esports often has a knack of being last minute). There are a few things to think about to give the client a good impression before we get to the show going live though, because at this point, it’s not a done deal.
Sort a Contract
If the client doesn’t sort it for you, then send one yourself, either way just make sure there’s something in place that both parties sign.
If you’re undertaking work for a business, I’d expect them to lead on this process, but smaller operators/teams and individuals may not have a process in place, so there’s nothing to stop you taking the initiative.
The year of COVID disruption has made this even more important than ever, otherwise both parties have no protection for cancelling at no notice.
The contract should cover as a minimum:
- The business details of both parties including official contact details (time to move the conversation off Discord and Twitter DMs for this part),
- The specification of the work – what exactly are you doing for the client
- The dates being worked – including live days and any preparation/rehearsal days
- The agreed rate of pay (including currency of pay for any non UK jobs)
- Consider any reasonable overtime clauses – there’s some flexibility expected with esports jobs (factor this in to your day rate in the first place when you work out your value), but if a job runs through until 4am in the morning due to delays then it’s reasonable to be compensated for that if you were due to finish 8 hours earlier (extreme exaggeration), it’s better to cover this from the start rather than having a fight about it after the event.
- Payment terms – I’m going to cover invoicing in the next article otherwise this will drag on forever, but agree fair payment terms at this point to make the invoicing part easier. 30 days is pretty much standard and reasonable.
- Anything that you are expected to supply (equipment, software etc)
- Anything that the client is expected to supply for you to do your job
- Deadlines for any work that is not related to a set event (e.g. graphic design, software development, PR services etc)
- Cancellation policies – Things do have to be cancelled sometimes, whether we like it or not. Include what happens if either party cancels and have some flexibility in here for things being moved as opposed to cancelled. Both parties need to be reasonable in this section, especially after 2020!
Should anything change around the specification of the work, the contract should be updated and re-signed by both parties either as a new contract or with an amendments section to the original one.
Hopefully your original brief/contract will have covered plenty of the details in the first place but if they don’t, then ask the questions to make sure you’re fully prepared.
But read the information you have been sent thoroughly first, including any linked documents or communications channels you’ve been invited to.
Put in some effort from your side, don’t hide behind “I was never told”. That’s one of the phrases that seriously winds me up. There may be 50+ people working on a show, you’re not going to get hand delivered every piece of information personally.
For example, if I’ve put call times in the brief and you message me asking your call time, I’m going to get annoyed. I’ve put it in the brief to tell everybody once and make the most efficient use of my time.
Things you should be aware of in advance
- Call Times – Just like a start time in a “normal” job, this is what time you’re expected to be ready to work, not the time to put the kettle on and join in a few minutes for online events, or not the time you arrive for a physical event.
- Travel/Accommodation Details – Has transport been booked for you or are you making your own arrangements, is there a budget assigned to that. Did you need to provide anything like passport details and who knows what Brexit arrangements you’re going to need to make now.
- Dress Code – Is it stage blacks for backstage staff, smart wear for talent, or doesn’t it matter? Hint for those in backstage roles, it’s easier to assume stage blacks if you’re not told otherwise, especially if you’re likely to be seen by the public. And never wear a competitor’s brand, backstage or not.
- Catering – Is food sorted for you, have you been asked to provide any dietary information, was there a deadline for replying to that?
- Confidentiality – Don’t assume that you can talk about the job you’re working on, either before/during or after. Many projects are often run on a totally white-labelled basis, some are commercially sensitive. The lack of an NDA doesn’t automatically mean you should shout about being involved. Check with your contact first to be on the safe side.
- Lines of Communication – The person who contracted you may not be your main contact from this point forward, familiarise yourself with the team you’re working with and who you need to be speaking to about the details and on the day of the show.
I start to get really anxious when a freelancer goes radio silent on me after confirming with them. I’m not necessarily expecting you to be in full conversation every day until live day or expecting you to undertake any work in advance (unless that was part of the spec), but I’d expect both parties to have a few questions or clarifications in the build up to any project, or if they’ve all been addressed just to check in once in a while from both sides to confirm that the work is still going ahead/you’re still available.
- If you do get any questions through, then respond to them in a reasonable amount of time (hours/days, not weeks/months) again, using the same method that the client asked in the first place.
- Join any Slack/Discord/WhatsApp groups when invited.
- Start to build a bit of rapport with the team you’re going to be working with, get to know them a little before diving in to day 1 of a show if they aren’t people you’ve worked with before.
There is a balance to this part though between working outside of the contract and keeping in touch, you decide where you want to be on that scale, but at least make sure you're somewhere on it.
There was probably loads more that could have gone in to this part, but I'd gone on long enough.Next time, finances. Working out prices, taxes, invoicing etc.