The Lost Element of Quality


No matter what the field you’ll hear a lot of complaints about a decline in quality. From Super Bowl Ads to bacon, from television shows to toys, many would argue that today’s products and services are inferior in quality to products and services from the past.

If you’ve ever bought something, only to have it break as soon as you get it home, you can relate to the disappointment that poor quality causes. I used to buy children’s clothing from a particular store, but I stopped shopping there because the hems came out of the clothes the first time that I washed them. While the clothes were cute, ultimately they were a disappointment to me because they didn’t last.

Our clients feel the same about quality as I did about the cheaply made children’s clothes. If a freelancer delivers a poor quality service, then the client is disappointed. (If you want to stay in business, it’s not a good idea to keep disappointing your customers).

This post will explore what quality is and how it will help your freelancing business.

What Is Quality?

While many people complain about a lack of quality, a lot of us are unsure of what quality really is. It’s common for folks to take an attitude of “I’ll know it when I see it” about quality. This attitude can make it difficult for freelancers, however, who are trying to determine what the client wants.

I think it is possible to identify some characteristics of quality, as it pertains to freelancing. Here are some of the common elements that I would attribute to quality projects:

  • Lasting value–If something has quality, typically it has a lasting value. I was discussing web copy the other day with a colleague and he described the copy he had written as something that could serve the client’s needs for years to come. His copy would be as relevant to his client’s business next year as it was right now. He had done a quality job.
  • Don’t cut corners–It can be tempting for a freelancer to take shortcuts and skimp on a project in ways that the client might not even notice. However, if your goal is producing quality work, don’t do it. Don’t cut corners. Take the time to do the job right. Pay attention to even those areas that the client might not be aware of. In the long run, your finished product will be better for it and so will your relationship with that client.
  • Shows craftsmanship–Get rid of those bad habits that could negatively impact your work. Instead, pay attention to the little details of your work that make the difference between doing a good job and doing a great job. Like a skilled craftsman, take the time to do the job carefully and meticulously.
  • Shouldn’t require rework–If you’ve done a quality job on a project, you shouldn’t find yourself needing to do a lot of rework. Neither should the client have to get someone else to fix your mistakes. While the client may change his or her mind about what they wanted, they won’t need to repair your work because the quality is poor.

While it may seem that producing good quality is a lot of work (and it can be a lot of work if you do it right), paying attention to quality can actually help your freelancing business.

How Can Quality Help Your Freelancing Business?

In large corporations, quality is so important that many companies have a separate quality assurance department. The job of this department is to make sure that the company’s products and services meet certain quality standards.

Big companies pay a lot of attention to quality because they know that the quality of the product or service that they provide ultimately impacts their brand. The same thing is true for the freelancer.

Let’s face it. Which would you rather be known for: producing quality work or producing cheap work?

I think most of us would agree that we’d rather be known for the high quality of our work.

Providing quality products and services can set your freelancing business apart in an environment where lack of quality is the norm.

Ask yourself, what do you want your clients to think of your work six months from now? How about a year from now? Will the work that you did for them still be as useful then as it is now?

How to Produce Quality Work

Freelancers can produce quality work if they make quality a goal. Here are some tips to bring some quality to your own freelancing business:

  • Be aware, but not controlled by, trends. Trends and fads are not necessarily conducive to producing quality work. What’s popular today might not make much sense in a few months. While it’s important for a freelancer to be aware of trends, don’t let yourself be driven by them. Do what works best for your client and what you know will last.
  • Work smart, but don’t take shortcuts. Working smart is a good idea. This means that you are taking full advantage of the tools and resources that you have to do the most efficient job possible. Working rushed, however, is not a good idea. If you are working rushed then you may be tempted to skip necessary steps of a project such as testing or proofreading.
  • Take pride in what you do. When you finish a job, you should be proud of the work that you’ve done. You should be willing to have your name associated with that project. If you’re uncomfortable putting your name to a project ask yourself if you’ve really delivered the quality that your client needs.
  • Price your services properly. If you price your products and services too cheaply you may be tempted to take shortcuts without even realizing it. To produce quality work, charge your clients a high enough rate so that you have the time that it takes to do the job carefully.

What Do You Think?

What defines a quality project for you?

Do you think quality is important for freelancers? (Why, or why not?) What quality measures have you put into action in your own business?

Share your answers in the comments.

Image by tnarik